Happy New Year dear readers!
Time goes by so quickly, does it not? Now is the time to reflect back on 2015, and look ahead to 2016. What good things happened last year? What do you want more of in your life this year? Now is the time to assess what worked and what didn’t, and what changes need to be made to make your life more of what you want it to be.
As you reflect on the past 365 days, assess all the areas of your life: health, finances, and relationships.
Health can include your general fitness level, your diet, how often and what types of exercise you do, your visits to any doctors or dentists. Do you see a general practitioner for a once yearly physical exam? Do you see a dentist for cleanings every 6 months?
Take an honest look at your diet, your snacks, “grazing”, portion sizes. No one will know but you so there’s no reason to not be honest. How closely does your current diet over the past year reflect your ideal eating habits?
What steps can you take to improve this year?
Finances should cover how much you make from your main job and/or business, income from other side jobs or seasonal jobs, income from investments, as well as outgoing money.
How much do you spend per year, per month? What do you spend your money on? Can you lower any fixed expenses, negotiate a better payment on your cell phone, rent, utilities, or a better bank rate if your credit improved? Can you take on a side job, baby sit, start a blog?
I recommend hitting the library and taking out finance books, or reading finance blogs. There is a HUGE wealth of information out there to help, no matter what your situation. Whatever the problem, credit card debt, school loan payments, default, bankruptcy, divorce, or just general money management, you don’t have to figure it out alone.
As for relationships, this spans everything from work to friends to family to spirituality. And most importantly, your relationship with yourself.
If you have family members with whom you do not have a good relationship, ask yourself why. What can you do to mend those relationships? Do you need to forgive, or ask for forgiveness? Do you need to show compassion or interest?
Are you happy with your current friends? If not, think of ways to bring the kind of people you want to be around into your life. Maybe you could join a book club or sports group, or hang out in libraries or take a dance lesson.
Do you love yourself? Do you know what makes you happy, and take the time to do those things? When you are fulfilled and happy and joyful, you are more able to give and love others.
My 2016 Resolution?
I have decided I will challenge myself to not buy any pantry staples for the month of January. At first, I thought about trying to live solely from what I already have in the house, but then after discussing with Mister Epicurean, I realized we need certain staples that basically must be bought fresh. Mostly yogurts (which he goes through about 7-10 per week), milk/creamer, and fresh veggies. I can rely heavily on frozen and canned produce this month, but I do like having fresh salads and adding things like avocado to burritos.
Therefore, the challenge this month would be to meal plan and cook out of my freezer & pantry, and to have only $20 per week of “fresh” foods budget. Our average food budget monthly is $400, so to cut that down to 1/5 is pretty great! Of course, that $400 usually includes “stock up” purchases, such as when canned beans were on sale last week for $0.49, and I bought a case.
This challenge has several purposes:
- Help clear out space in the freezer & pantry
- Evaluate what I buy too much of, or not enough of
- Challenge my creativity in making meals
- Save us significant money on groceries
By doing a pantry-clear-out challenge, it will help me to realize I have a lot more food hiding in plain sight that I thought. We all have those half-boxes of pasta, a can of corn shoved behind something else, some spices or condiments bought for a recipe but never used, or used once. Now is the time to reach back into all the dark corners of the cupboards, and down to the bottom of the freezer, and see what can be used.
This month will also help me to see what I have stocked up on far too much, and what we use more often than I thought that I could consider stocking more of. For example, if I think I have more than enough canned tomatoes, and we run out by week 2, I will know that going forward. Or if I count 20 boxes of pasta to begin with, and at the end of the month we still have 19, then I should probably stop buying so much pasta when it’s on sale.
The final two points go together well, in that creativity saves you money. Like I mentioned earlier, the half-used ingredients? Figure out a way to combine them into one meal, and you have not only saved food from being throw out (which creates waste, takes calories out of the food system in a way that helps no one, and is basically like setting dollars on fire), but you also have created an almost-free meal. If you never used those ingredients, they would be wasted. Instead, you have eaten again for the same amount of money you already spent & had in the house.
So, this is the challenge, which started on Jan 1st. No stocking up, no matter how good the sale, and only $20 per week maximum towards fresh dairy & produce. I won’t even be buying any meat, I will be using what I have in the freezer. Good thing I just recently cleaned it out & reorganized.
Wish me luck!
How about you, any goals for 2016? Any Resolutions for this year? Feel free to share your goals & progress!