Topic: Budgeting


Setting goals is a yearly occurrence for me. Failing to reach goals is also a yearly occurrence for me. So it’s no surprise as the New Year approached and people talked about their New Year’s goals that I died a little inside; nothing like feeling like a failure before actually failing. I have reviewed my past history in detail and introspectively examined my short comings and weaknesses. That was fun. I ditched the data and decided, “What the heck — let’s give goal setting another try,” but this year I adjusted a bit.

Don’t take on everything.

The years I’ve decided to lose weight, spend less money, learn to knit, be nicer to my family, save money, volunteer more, read a book a month, cook from scratch and run the Marine Corps Marathon have not gone well. I can tell you the marathon, learning to knit and being nicer fell off the wagon by the end of January. This year, I’ve consolidated, kept them general and have not mentioned specifics in the overall goal statement. I call them my triple F goal: food, fitness and finances. So when people ask if I have set goals, I whip out my three Fs and move on without further explanation. OH, and I HAVE NOT posted them on social media. I can’t think of a better way to set myself up for failure than to announce I’m getting fit on social media. There’s always that one friend that posts a less-than-encouraging comment come the Fourth of July photo album where I’m not in a bikini.

Involve everyone.

There is nothing worse than trying to improve your life and having a bunch of people who are supposed to be your support network doing just the opposite. As a consequence my husband and I found something we could both do together, and because the children living in our home ARE LIVING IN OUR HOME, they are coming along for the ride. It’s not going to hurt them to each work on the three Fs, modified for age of course. Having everyone on board, at least for now, is setting me up to hopefully make it a little further this year towards my goals!

Set milestones.

Reaching a mini goal is more attainable, reasonable and motivating than saying you want to lose 30 pounds. In fact, we don’t even speak in pounds in this house. The mentality is getting fit. For me, as a grandmother of three, mother of six, full-time employee and closer to death than I was yesterday, my milestone is going to look very different than my 11-, 13- and 16-year-old sons. My milestone may be a commitment to walking three days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. My 16 year old’s milestone might be beating his personal record in a 5K. Nowhere in my goal this year is the term 5K. I literally have to walk before I run.

Celebrate those milestones!

I’m not sure what that will look like for us this year. I want my family to have input there, as well. I don’t mean huge expensive celebrations, but something to recognize our effort. I’m thinking if we make it through the first week we need to commemorate it somehow. NOT WITH CAKE!

Be realistic.

My goals used to be all over the place, sometimes even contradicting each other. I made sure this year my goals complemented each other. Food and fitness is a no brainer. The finance comes in because I looked at our budget, and the amount of money we spend on convenience food was staggering. Even though my actual grocery bill is going to go up, the savings in the long run will be significant. If that is my focus and I happen to go down a pant size and have more energy, well that’s just a bonus and reward for being disciplined and making time to start cooking again. Surprise! You have to go clothes shopping in three months! (Oh the things that motivate us.) And this brings me to my last little nugget of hard-learned wisdom.

Don’t compare your goals to someone else.

I have the most amazing friends. One in particular can cook anything, anytime with any ingredients in her kitchen, and it will always be delicious. She has always done this and sometimes on a budget that is so unbelievable. I’m not talking a big budget; I’m talking a dollar amount that doesn’t even rate being called a budget. So my goal of just cooking again and not eating out looks ridiculous next to how she lives, but I’m not her, and I will never obtain any goal if I look outside myself. We are all unique in our talents and our challenges. Make your friends a source of support and a valuable resource. If I start to lose my stride and want to drive through a window to feed my family, then a quick text to my talented friend yields a simple, yet delicious recipe on my phone I can prepare.

Life happens, be flexible.

Somewhere in the middle of the year you may have to manage your expectation of what success looks like. Hear me now, THAT IS OKAY. After all, we adapt and overcome on a regular basis and life is about meeting it head on, not dictating the way ahead.

Finally, at the very heart of reaching your goal is the reason for making that goal to begin with. Don’t forget what it was. Post it, review it and refer to it often. My reasons walk through the front door every afternoon and evening. Set it and get it. Bring it on, New Year!