All Shiny and New
However, I do believe that I have the power to improve my lot each year. So what am I looking to improve in the coming year of 2013?
I've been walking through my home this past week looking at areas that just aren't working for me. Some areas are merely cluttered and just need a little time and attention that has been sadly lacking in the past six months, like the back deck and entry, the bookcases, my clothing drawers. Some have just never worked well at all, like the plastics storage area in the kitchen, that storage area above the trash/cleaning cupboard and a few other small areas. Some just need to be refined or completed; what's in place is working well up to a point: my closet, the baking area I set up, the storage area for appliances.
Overall, the house doesn't need tons of work, but just for me to focus on each area for a day or two. And then there are the areas that just plain need to be turned out and decluttered ruthlessly once and for all so I can make better use of the spaces available. There's that spot above the refrigerator for instance, the armoire in the breakfast area, the entertainment center bays. I don't believe I should be forever looking for more storage when the storage areas I have are filled with things we seldom use.
In the great hopes that we are returning to the schedule we established in September, just before all the vacation and holidays began, I plan to return to my weekly deep cleaning schedule that eliminates the need of seasonal cleaning and is combined with the routine daily tasks. The decluttering and refining tasks will fit right in with that cleaning schedule.
I've been looking at our 2013 budget. John has a goal he wants to meet this year. I have one or two of my own as well. We've been working hard at savings but I've noted over the past two or three years that certain times of the year are more difficult for us than others. I want to be prepared ahead of time for those slender seasons. That means stocking the pantry and setting money aside to meet those shortfall areas. I can't count on John working overtime when I've no idea if any will even be available...and I'm not keen on asking him to look for extra work when he's worn out.
The grocery budget is a pretty big part of our finances. I've been watching prices rise and we've been trimming all along these past six months but John said something the other day that really made me stop and think. We were discussing how much we'd just spent at one store and he said "Well maybe that's our setpoint total for this place." Uhmmm...Hello? Where have I heard that before? Why from my own mouth after a trip to Walmart where we'd spent $85 yet again. The result of that was that we not only cut down on trips to Walmart but when we walk in the doors there now we usually spend less than $20 and often less than $10 because we became aware of that mental set point for spending. So what will I do? I can't buy every single thing we need from Aldi (which would be ideal) because some items are seasonal for them, some items are simply not to our taste (or the pets). But I can most definitely lower my set point for spending at that other grocery. I can look for other stores that might have better prices on some of those items. I can substitute for some and forgo the expense we've become used to. I can stock up more when things are on sale by being more aware of our usage and sales cycles.
I can run on and on about what I can do, but doing it will require dedication.
There are other areas I've already begun to think differently about. I let my Netflix subscription go. Too often of late I've not had enough time to watch the selections. It's a waste of money. I might use that elsewhere...Like applying the extra to the car loan. Remember I helped pay off our previous car loan by adding little savings to it every single month? Well why not? I'll be looking for other areas where I can make savings big or small.
I've been doing Swagbucks for a couple of years now. I've typically used those earnings to pay for a book here and a gift there. Perhaps I can use them instead to purchase needed items like replacement parts or clothing needs or bulk grocery items.
All of my goals for the year ahead do not focus solely upon our finances or home. I have personal goals as well. There are Bible studies I want to pursue this coming year and I would like to read through the Bible again. I learn something new every single time I do it. I want to spend time in prayer each day, not just when John and I pray together at night. I want to drench myself in music and sermons all through the day.
I do have goals for pleasure too. Like planting more daffodils and pansies and morning glories and petunias. I like flowers. And taking time to find a really good haircut and a good stylist. Taking time to buy what is needed instead of just whatever I can find on sale for my wardrobe. I just need to buy those things first before I spend that money elsewhere. I want to learn to grill (started with my first attempt Christmas Day) and there are all sorts of other new skills I want to add to my list of abilities.
Just thinking about all the possibilities in the year ahead does make it seem shiny and new, doesn't it? Oh I can hardly wait!
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