Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Goals and Resolutions [Personal] + LINKUP ANNOUNCEMENT

We've finally come to the last installment of my annual resolutions and goals!  I have quite a bit, but my philosophy for the year is go BIG or go HOME!  I also have to remind myself that my word of the year is CHANGE, so things might be tough for a while.  In the end, it'll all be worth it!


For the final part of my goals, I'll be getting more personal.  We're going to talk about financial goals and personal goals.  I have to warn you that I'm going to be talking about actual financial numbers, so if that topic doesn't interest you or makes you uncomfortable, you might want to skip to the bottom for an exciting announcement.  Now, let's get to the goals!


Financial Goals

 

Spending freeze until my birthday (June 28)

I'm actually doing a spending freeze with my blogging buddy Sokphal, and we set up some ground rules (borrowed from the blog the Fashion Fast) :

1. No purchases of new outerwear, clothes, shoes, or accessories EXCEPT:
-- undergarments
-- socks
-- stockings/ tights
-- running shoes

2. Items cannot be requested as gifts nor can I direct anyone to purchase a wardrobe item for me.

3. Gifts and freebies can be accepted and kept.

4. There can be no exchanging of the gift or freebie, unless it is the wrong size or damaged.

5. Hand-me-downs should not be accepted unless they are framed as a gift.

6. All wardrobe items can be repaired, hemmed, dyed, or otherwise altered to provide variety.

7. Special occasions will not warrant a new outfit, unless I am requested as a bridesmaid and need to purchase a dress. (This also includes buying my wedding dress, which I got last week)

8. Should a wardrobe staple such as a white tank top or t-shirt become stained or damaged, it can be replaced. This only goes for necessities.

9. New clothing may be purchased if a situation arises where I cannot get home to access the things in my closet. This only includes extreme predicaments such as: if my luggage gets lost or delayed while traveling or my shirt gets thrown up on while riding the subway to work-- both of which, I sincerely hope, never occur.

10. Borrowing items from other people is permitted. Permanently expanding my wardrobe is not.

11. Necessary running purchases are allowed (new shoes, fuel, race registration, sport massages).  I'm allowing myself to buy new clothes for running within reason, while Sokphal is not.

12. I'm putting myself on a freeze for all non-necessities as well (this is broad, but things like new makeup, perfume, jewelry, purchases for the apartment, facials, mani/pedi, etc.)  Sokphal is keeping this just a clothing freeze, but I'm going a bit more extreme!

13. If either of us breaks our freeze, we have to buy the other something of their choosing worth $50.  Sokphal wants $50 to go towards a new pair of running shoes, and I want a new Energy Bra.


Even though six months seems like a long time, both of us are in a position where we don't need more clothes or things.  I'm always wanting to get rid of most of my clothes and downsize the things that I have- which I'll talk about below- so having this time line where I can't buy anything is really helpful.  

I'm in the process of house hunting now, so every penny that I save now counts.  I also like the though of having a spending freeze until June so that I don't make any rash decisions as soon as I move in (aka- buy #allthethings from Ikea and Homegoods).  This way, I can get all of my stuff in, do some planning, and then see what I actually need!


Save reward money (Discover, Ebates, Ibotta) for entire year

On my Discover card, I get cash back rewards for all of my purchases, and higher cash back for certain categories each month.  These are all redeemable on Amazon, so I usually just spend my balance when I buy something on there.  This year, I want to save that cash back and see how much I can save up. There's usually a 5% bonus on home improvements stores during the summer months, so this should really add up!

I also look at Ebates and Ibotta  (affiliate links) the same way.  Both are programs that give you money back for purchases you make and submit to the app.  I would like to see how much I can make on these two apps throughout the year!  I think it will also be interesting to see how quickly the money adds up as the year goes on.  Get ready for some graph action!


Save $15,000

If all of that goes to plan, I should be able to save a large chunk of my income.  Dan and I made a budget this year (first time ever and inspired by the Matrimoney Podcast) and came up with a goal of saving $15,000 this year.  We have direct deposit on our paychecks, and have money automatically moved to our savings account, so this should be really painless.  

I also have a personal goal of saving $6,000 in my own account. If I follow my no buy rules and not go crazy after my birthday, this should be relatively easy as well!  I'm telling you- making a budget is really life changing!  Now, I just have to stick to it!


No fast food, coffee shops, restaurants, bars

Dan and I both made a rule for ourselves that we wouldn't be going out to eat any more.  Since we are both doing the Whole30 (with some exceptions for him), this has been really easy in January.  We do have some built-in exclusions for this rule, like for our birthdays or if a friend we rarely see invites us.  I have some friends that live all over the country and world, so I wouldn't want to miss a chance to see them! 

The only downside to this rule is that we're spending a lot more on groceries lately.  I've been working hard on meal planning so that we always have enough food on hand, and it's really affecting our grocery bill!  If anyone has tips on how to save money at the grocery store (including where to find good coupons) I'm all ears.


Get a library card

I actually have a funny story about this.  I've been wanting to get a library card for years now, and could never motivate myself to actually go to the library and apply for one.  I shared my annual goals on my blog a few weeks ago, and that same day I stopped at the library and picked one up, along with a few books.  

Gretchen Rubin talks a lot about what tendency people are, and I am through and through an obliger.  As soon as I felt outward pressure to achieve something, I went and did it!  If anyone else out there is a fellow obliger and needs motivation to do something, I hope that this serves as a lesson for you.  Somehow get the outside world involved so that you feel an obligation to fulfill your goal, and it's much easier to actually do it!


Run commute at least once a week when it's warm

Where I'm living now, there is a trail that runs by my apartment to the downtown area, which is pedestrian-only and completely flat.  I don't take advantage of this nearly enough, and it's a great way to both get in my run and save some money.  I currently take the bus to work every day, which is $2.50 each way.  If I run commute just one way, once a week from March to June (when the weather is mild) I can save $45.  Even though that's not a huge amount of money, it's still money that I'm saving and also helps me get in a run that I won't have to worry about later in the day!  My goal is to run more than once a week so I can hopefully save even more.



 Personal Goals


Read 25 books

Last year, my goal was only to read 12 books.  I was easily reading two books a month for a while, but got lazy since I hit my goal early on.  This year, with the help of my library card, I'm hoping to double that number and even exceed my goal of 25!


De-clutter 10 items each month

It may be the trendy thing to do right now, but I love the idea of de-cluttering.  There are a lot of things that I won't want to move into a new house, so my plan is to get rid of 10 items every month.  This seems like a perfectly reasonable amount, so it'll be interesting to see what I'll be getting rid of!


Set up cleaning schedule

Dan and I are both very lazy when it comes to keeping our apartment clean, and that's something that I want to change this year- particularly if we have an entire house to keep clean.  We already made a schedule earlier this month, which we've been (loosely) following.  This is definitely something that I'm going to have to work on, and I'll share my schedule in the upcoming weeks!


Monthly cooking challenge

I love to cook and challenge myself in the kitchen, so each month I'm going to be giving myself a new challenge.  Last year I made a different cuisine each month which was really fun, and I want to do something similar this year.  For January, my challenge is completing the Whole30, which really pushed my out of my comfort zone as far as prep and cooking!


Link-up Announcement


And now on to exciting news- Kristen and I are starting a link-up that we're calling "What's New With You?"  You know when you haven't seen a friend for a long time, and run into them at the store, the first thing you say is "so, what's new with you?"  That's the idea behind the linkup- sharing what's going on in your life, what new things you're up to, what you're loving, anything! 

The rules are pretty straight forward:

-The linkup will be held on the first Thursday of every month, starting  February 4th (that's next Thursday!)

-Please link up to Kristen and me somewhere in your post and share our button (code is below- just copy and paste at the end of your post!)
What's New With You


-Any type of post is allowed- share your favorite post of the month, or a post saying what you're up to!  This is a great chance to share those Currently posts, or monthly goals, or highlights from the month.  You have complete freedom!

-Not mandatory, but it's always fun to check out the other blogs on the linkup and share the love!  Maybe you'll even find a new blogging buddy who will want to ask you, "so, what's new with you?"

That's it!  I hope that you'll all join in next Thursday.  I also want to send out a huge shout-out and thank you to Gina for this suggestion!  When she saw my post on my blogging goals, she immediately messaged me and suggested getting together with Kristen to do a link-up.  She's been like the fairy godmother of blogging for me- always there to help me out and give me suggestions on growing my blog (and my closet).  Thank you, Gina, and please go check out her blog if you haven't!


Who's joining the link-up!?
Any tips for saving money at the grocery store?
Does anyone else want to join the spending freeze? 

linking up with AmandaGinaAllieKate and Catherine

43 comments:

  1. Get it girl! Good luck achieving all your goals. They're all great ideas. I'm liking the save $15K idea. Why $15K specifically? Do y'all have any trips or plans in mind for the money? Groceries are so expensive. Lately I've heard people talking about the cash back you can get from shopping at Walmart. They'll price match and refund you the difference for the items you've already purchased. If you're a Walmart shopper, there's an idea. I try to stay out of Walmart so I don't give into temptation and roam around the center aisles lol.

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    1. I just looked at all of my bills and expenses and saw how much we could realistically save each month! No plans in mind yet except for an emergency fund and home projects. Thanks for the savings tip at Walmart!

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  2. I am always trying to save money at the grocery store without going to a bunch of stores to catch the deals. the biggest way I do it is by limiting the shops to once a week if I can and getting as much as I can at TJ. I watch the sales for the other stores and go if they have enough worth driving there for. Oh, and I don't buy things if I don't really need them for that week. I think it all helps somehow!

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  3. So much new stuff! You totally have this. There was an incredible article a year or so ago about two roommates who lived on either a ridiculously low amount or basically nothing for a year. If I can remember where or if I see it, I will let you know. It is an amazing story.

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  4. What a great idea (the link-up and all of your saving tips!). I love how thorough you are in breaking down your goals. Saving money at the grocery store is something I have no concept of. Needs to change!

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    1. Thank you Emily! I know you're obsessed with Whole Foods, which definitely won't help save money. BUT I know that's where you splurge in your budget so I don't see a problem with that! We all need that ONE area where we treat ourselves I think!

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  5. So impressed with your goals! When I did my spending freeze last August it was so amazing - can't wait to do another one this year. And SO stoked that two of my favorite bloggers are partnering up for a link up - I'll have to pull something together for next Thursday!

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    1. Thank you! I saw your spending freeze and a few other bloggers that did it and it really inspired me! If you're doing another let me know :)

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  6. So I saw the link up announcement on Kristen's blog this morning and I thought...I dont know Gretchen? So I came to stalk your blog and I see you live in Pittsburgh. I am from Greensburg!!! I live in Birmingham now, but I sure do miss "home" sometimes! And then I saw that you are on Whole 30 right now...and I am on doing Whole 30 too! It looks like you have a great plan laid out for this year. Budgeting, decluttering, book reading, making more meals at home...love it all! Best of luck on this!

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    1. You're the sweetest Nadine! Glad that you commented and I sent you an email to talk about Whole30/Pittsburgh stuff :)

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  7. You are a superstar of organization- next time I'm in the burgh I want to set up a coffee date so I can pick your mind for your skills! Seriously though- totally hear you on saving money and all the struggles that go with it. I tend to spend more on groceries than most people- meal planning definitely helps- my biggest downfall is going out to eat. My hubs and I love to eat and we like really really good food so even though I like to cook we go out more than we should- but we started our first budget this year and so far we are doing okay but there's definitely room for improvement! We are likely buying a house in Pittsburgh next year so I would love to hear more about your search as well!

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    1. We love to eat out a lot too, but at this time in our life it's more important to us that we save money. Once we're able to afford a house I can see us going out more often, but hopefully make it more of a special occasion thing. We were going out too much before that it didn't even feel special anymore!

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  8. Aw, I'm happy to be your fairy godmother! LOL! I just love how thorough and organized you are in your goals, it's funny about going to get the library card after you posted it. Blogging is a great motivator for me that way too. Once I make a goal public, I feel way more pressure to follow through!! So excited for your link up next week!

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    1. Oh it definitely is pressure, and I try to use that in a positive way! Thanks again for all of your support and help :)

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  9. I am oh so excited for this linkup, so I'll definitely be joining in the fun!

    As for groceries, I feel like a broken record, but try Aldi. If you're all about the free range meat you may require a second grocery stop, but their produce prices cannot be beat. I buy all my staples there & venture out if I must to get something from TJs or Giant Eagle. I'm almost always able to keep my weekly grocery budget between $30 - $40 depending on if I'm cooking for the BF too.

    And I love the idea of a spending freeze. I'm not on one specifically. But I have a running list of things I'm on the lookout for clothing or otherwise, & if it's not on the list it doesn't come home with me. Right now I'm looking for a vest (that can do double duty with a pair of jeans & when running), & new skinny jeans. So, if it's not one of those two things, I do not buy it.

    As a former library employee & book lover I'm so glad you FINALLY have a library card! They're a fabulous (free) resource.

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    1. So glad that you're joining in!! Yay! I will definitely try out Aldi now. That will be my goal for February :) I put it out there, so now I have to do it.

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  10. I would LOVE to join your link up! You'll have to remind me next week ;)

    As someone who works at a library I'm thrilled that you finally got a card (although part of me wants to wag my finger and say, what took you so long missy! Haha :-P). I also take the bus to work, high five for bus life! Although admittedly I do it less now, with my bf's new job being closer to my work I usually ride with him on mornings I don't go to the gym. I wish I could run commute - I'd do it practically every day if there was a place to shower here.

    Have you heard of the blog Blonde on a Budget? You should check it out, she's a 20-something who paid off a ton of debt and is now a sort of budgeting guru who shares a lot of tips on frugality and simplicity. One of her big things is a "shopping ban", which is a lot like what you are doing.

    Good luck! I'm really impressed by how many goals and projects you are taking on in one year. That would be a lot for me but it sounds like you're gonna rock it!

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    1. I'll definitely remind you :) I know I know..wag your finger because I deserve that for waiting this long. I had one years ago and used to go..but between moving for college and constantly moving after I graduated I just never took the time to do it. Never heard of that blog but I'll look it up!

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  11. i am totally an obliger too - but i'm more extreme, posting about things don't make me do it, but if someone is legit relying on me (like if someone was relying on me to get the library card for some reason) i'd do it in a heartbeat. good luck with all of your goals! the financial goals are awesome and super important. we are trying to eat out less but we still eat out at least once a week, it's something that's important to KC (long story, it's important to him to be able to do the little things like that, whereas i want to spend all the money on all the things and travel, which leaves nothing for eating out haha). i am not doing a spending freeze right now, though i applaud you for doing yours! seriously, it's awesome. i i have cut down my spending drastically in the last year and a half and it's made a huge difference in our bank account. i'm trying to meal plan as well, but i'm not always successful! i don't have any 'new' advice, but basically try and avoid the little grocery trips (just go once a week), buy things on sale, etc etc. i don't use coupons because they aren't typically for things we actually eat, though your grocery might have specific coupons like meijer sent me an email the other day for $5 off $50 which we spend easily, and it wasn't for anything particular (like sometimes they do $5 off $25 produce or meat). also, do you eat a lot of beans and such? i think you do but i can't remember. I try and eat less meat as it's cheaper and healthier, but then i also try and bulk up all of our meals with beans, veggies and grains. i know you're on the whole 30 right now so obviously restricting in some areas, but it helps because those things are cheaper.

    and yay for our link up!

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    1. Sounds like you and KC are just like Dan and me! I want to save up for trips and stuff and he would rather spend it in every day life. Crazy how last year I barely saved any money but I can't tell you where that money went. So annoyed at myself for not making that goal years ago.

      Thanks for the suggestions on saving money! I do normally eat beans, but they're out during Whole30.

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  12. We are in the process of saving too and having a library card and cutting wayyy back on eating out has been huge for us! We love to bike to the library and then to the grocery store and come home, cook dinner and read! It's really fun!!

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    1. That sounds like such a great way to spend a day :)

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  13. Saving 15k? That is awesome and so crazy at the same time. To be honest, I don't know if I would last not buying any clothing or going out to restaurants. I'm excited to follow your goals!

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    1. It's only for 6 months (not buying clothes) and we still get to go out to restaurants for special occasions, so maybe we'll appreciate it more! If the year totally sucks because of that I'll change it next year :)

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  14. Welcome to the Library card holders club... We have a few rules 1. Use it properly, 2. Pay your fines (They WILL happen), 3. Don't hoard the books that have holds! ;~)

    I've had a library card for close to 20 years, and I tell you now, I don't know that I could do without one!

    And since you are in a de-cluttering mode, order from your library this awesome book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. It will help you with decluttering BIG TIME!

    Awesome plan for your New Years goals! I hope it all goes great!!

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    1. Haha love your rules for the club! Sounds so exclusive :)

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  15. That link up is such a good idea! I'm excited to join in :) For grocery shopping, what I've started doing when I have to get a lot of things is going to 2 stores, Aldi's and Hy-Vee, to get food that's cheaper. Even though it's not as convenient as going to one place, it saves quite a bit of money!

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    1. I need to go to Aldi! That's always everyone's suggestion. I'm going to hate myself for waiting so long to go there!

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  16. I buy dry goods from Walmart (cheapest!) and things like cheese, peanut butter, meat, from Costco. I am so impressed with your spending freeze. We'd have SUCH a hard time not eating out! Andrew and I always go out for dinner on date night but I don't think we will stop doing that because by the time date night rolls around, we so desperately need to get out of the house together.

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    1. I need to get a Costco membership. There's no place to store all that food in our apartment, but once we get a house I'm going all out with bulk food.

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  17. I'm so impressed with your spending freeze! I oddly love budgeting on groceries. Bulk bins for grains, nuts, seeds, and even spices (actually, especially spices - buy what you need rather than a big thing that goes unused!) save so much money. Whole roasted chickens are a huge money saver, especially when you boil the bones for stock. And making any bread products saves money and eliminates pesky sugars and preservatives. Good luck! :)

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    1. Such great ideas! Love those bulk bin areas.

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  18. Wow, I love this, and I'm amazed that you're doing it for so long. I actually love de-cluttering, but I don't like organizing, so I'm trying to work on organizing my small amount of stuff this year instead of adding to my piles of stuff. :D It's amazing how I accrue so many things that I don't actually need. O_O

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    1. Same here! I think we're all guilty of that.

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  19. Seriously, you are amazing. Your no buy rule is super strict and totally awesome! I would love to do that, but between being preggo, having a new babe coming, and a growing toddler there is no way I could stick to not buying new clothes ahhaha As for organizing, I will say I've been on a roll with that. We keep stuff to a real minimum, but somehow I always find something to throw out or donate! I literally just threw out 2 bags of stuff from my son's room, no idea how..

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    1. Thank you Morgan! I agree- no way a no buy would work for you right now! Kids need so much stuff haha!

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  20. I wish you the best of luck with all your goals and your finances. I think you are making some great decisions! I've really been working on revamping my wardrobe lately. I want to get rid of stuff I don't wear and invest in some other quality pieces!

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    1. Thank you! Same for me on the clothes. I would love to eventually phase out all my cheapo items with high quality versions of them.

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  21. I feel like I have so much to comment on! ha We are currently in a no excess spending time right now. We made a budget at the beginning of the year and are trying hard to get loans paid off and save some money. I can't wait to hear all about your spending freeze! It seems so crazy but you're so right- we really don't need anything! I just went through a major purging fest. It felt so amazing to get rid of clothes I no longer wear! I need to start decluttering parts of the rest of my house too!

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  22. These are some serious goals! You can do it! I did a spending freeze once and it changed my life. It's so important to set the rules early on so you can't fudge your way through them. I can't wait to read about your progress.

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  23. It's so cool to see all of your goals written out :) I highly respect the no-new-purchases goal, as well as saving $6,000 of your own. Very possible, I think!

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