Aaah the refreshing feeling of starting a brand new year. I love it! I hope all of you are pumped about the next twelve months and are eager to increase your wealth, build relationships, advance your careers, and do more of what you love. In order to do those things though we have to be willing and able to kick bad habits and make better decisions. New year, new choices! The possibilities are endless and that’s what makes it super exciting.
Where’s Your Money Going?
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your 20’s and 30’s is not paying enough attention to where your money is going. Sure you may not be making a big salary yet, but that’s no excuse! It’s actually all the more reason to start making smart choices with your money and work towards building your financial wealth. Personal finance is not scary. Nor is it complicated, hairy, or only for people over 40.
Take responsibility of your life, spend less than what you earn, and start paying down debt. Having multiple credit cards and racking up a bunch of debt doesn’t make you cool. It actually makes you pretty stupid, and your future self would shake all the stubbornness out of you right now if you could. If you want a better life, you need to become financially independent and in control of your spending. Take 10 minutes today and write down the following things:
- Current take home pay per month after withholding and payroll taxes
- Monthly total of all recurring expenses (loans, utilities, phone bill, cable/internet, meals, etc)
- Approximate annual total of ad hoc expenses divided by 12 (medical/dental/vision expenses, travel, shopping, gifts, events)
- Total debt
- Total savings and liquid investments
- Total retirement contributions
Calculate your monthly disposable income (money left over after paying all your expenses). Then figure out where you can start cutting back on costs. Please do not make excuses if you want to change your situation. There are always ways to save money, and that means making sacrifices. Building wealth is not easy, nor is it going to happen by itself. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to enroll in a 401k or a SEP-IRA and start making contributions to your future retirement. It’s really important to start early! And you can benefit from a tax break.
Next, take a look at your total debt and scare yourself. You need to feel the weight of that number in order to be motivated to stop making it larger! Start making better decisions on where your money goes each month. Every dollar really does count. Set goals to start building your savings and stick to them. I also recommend opening up a free account with Personal Capital, a cloud based program that lets you safely pull all of your financial accounts into one place. This will let you see everything together so you can easily monitor your progress throughout the year, plus you have the option of receiving a free consultation with one of their financial advisors too. New year, new choices!
How Will You Spend Your Precious Time?
One thing that used to be really hard for me was letting go of ill fit friends and relationships. I’m not embarrassed to say I’m not a popular person and that I don’t have a ton of friends. Why? Because the people that I do have in my life are sincerely good people who are supportive, positive, and inspiring. Time is so precious and I can no longer bother with friends who are flaky, unresponsive, or not trustworthy.
When was the last time you sat back and thought about the people in your life that are no longer worth spending time with? It may sound cruel but it really isn’t. People change all the time, and just because you’ve known someone for x amount of years doesn’t mean they’re still a true friend. Chose who you spend your time with wisely this year because time is one thing we can’t get back.
Also think about how you can incorporate more of the things you love into your schedule this year. You don’t have to quit your day job to “follow your passion” or to find happiness. After all most people don’t fully understand how much work and sacrifice it takes to switch careers or become a successful entrepreneur. What you can and should do is get organized and start better utilizing your free time. Start a side business, sign up for the volunteer work you’ve always talked about, organize family get togethers, take a night class – make your schedule work for you. New year, new choices!
Where Is Your Career Going?
Next, think about where your career is going. Have you had an honest heart to heart with your manager within the last 2 months? If not, schedule a time to talk in the next week or two. It’s really important to build a strong relationship with your boss and let him/her know what your career goals are. Start the year on the right foot.
If you’re bored out of your mind and haven’t asked for new assignments or ways to get more involved, it’s really your own fault you’re bored. Your manager can’t read your mind, and they aren’t expected to know how you spend every minute of your time on the job. Take your career development in your own hands this year. Speak up and take action!
My 2014 Goals
I’m keeping my goals simple again this year. Back in 2012 I went crazy and made over 20 goals and I’m not doing that again. I’ve learned it’s much better to set fewer, realistic goals with solid action plans versus a giant list of goals that you can’t even remember. I succeeded on roughly 70% of my 2013 goals, so I hope to beat that percentage in 2014.
Over the next twelve months I hope to:
- Save 35% of my income
- Exercise 2x week
- Scuba dive a new reef
- Visit all of my immediate family
- Complete 1 item on my bucket list
- Get my Yakezie.com Black Belt
- Learn 5 new things on the computer
Untemplaters, are you excited about 2014? What are some of the goals you’ve set for this year? Have you thought about where your money’s going, how you will spend your time, and develop your career? New year, new choices!
Copyright 2014. Original content and photography authorized only to appear on Untemplater.com. Thank you for reading!
Poor Student says
These are some really good goals. I too have a select, small group of friends because I am very choosy.
Thanks! Close friends are the best.
Paul @ The Frugal Toad says
I went snorkeling in Negril Jamaica. I didn’t want to get out of the water because the fish were so beautiful! I plan on going whitewater rafting with my brothers this spring, haven’t seen them in over a year! Best of luck with your goals Sydney and Happy New Year!
Snorkeling in Jamaica sounds awesome. I would love to be in warm tropical waters right now. White water rafting sounds like a fantastic adventure, hope that works out!
Financial Samurai says
I like that Yakezie Blackbelt goal Sydney! WHOOO HOOO! 🙂
A 35% savings rate is great, and I’d like to help you exercise at least once a week.
Best for 2014!
Thanks Sam! Maybe I can even get my 2nd degree belt if I keep my momentum going all year. I managed to do some stretches and toning today. But cardio is going to be my biggest challenge because I’m lazy when it comes to running and raising my heart rate.
Good Luck on the goals!
I not only hope that you go scuba diving in a new reef, but I also hope that you learn more than 5 things on the computer.
There are so many things to learn from computers, that I could spend a week telling you about it.
Happy New Year!
Thanks David. Yeah 5 things on a computer may be a bit low, but I didn’t do very well with my tech goals last year so I set the bar low. I tend to get frustrated with technical stuff.
Great goals. Just 1 item from your bucket list? My goal is 3, but now I’m thinking that might be too much. Belize is pretty awesome. We saw some nurse sharks and some reef sharks. The nurse sharks are not scary at all. The reef sharks were pretty scary especially with the boat throwing chums in the water while we were swimming.
Thanks. Yeah I just have a feeling I might only get to do 1 item on my bucket list this year because of my schedule. Last year I successfully completed two though. That’s cool you’ve been to Belize too. It looks so beautiful from the pictures I’ve seen. I’ve swam with sharks before and it isn’t scary. But that’s nuts they threw chum in the water with you guys swimming there! Not sure I’d feel comfortable with that!
I love the fact you’ve restricted yourself to just 7 goals! Keeping it short but realistic works! Good luck Sydney!
Thanks! It was hard keeping the list small lol. As I started writing things down I just wanted to keep adding more and more things, but I resisted. 🙂
Happy New Year Sydney and good luck with your goals! I just came back from Belize, saw some sharks and manta rays by the dozen, it was really cool. Hope you log some awesome dives this year.
Thanks and happy New Year to you too! Wow Belize sounds phenomenal! Manta rays are so graceful. I love how they swim in giant circles when they feed. Their wing spans are so huge. I can’t wait to see one up close some day!
101 Centavos says
Sharks? Do tell, what kind, big teeth?
David Eberhart says
Hi Sydney, great article! I especially appreciated your thoughts on changing habits. Last July, I went through some very tough decisions to start multiple businesses at the same time as a project to help generate more revenue and also document the process so that we could show others how they could start businesses for themselves.
Why would I want to take on such a workload? Because I wasn’t getting out of debt fast enough working the stressful corporate gig, and I also wanted to help others.
I work 14 hour days now and I’m loving it! Every three hours I invest in the evenings brings me and my partners in our little redneck incubator a little closer to our goal. The first company launched on January 1–keeping a promise I made to myself in July. In 12 months, that site should be generated $3-$6K in monthly revenue. A second company with launch in the first quarter of 2014 and it should hit the same $3-$6K in revenue 12 months after launch.
Is it hard work? Yes. Is it worth it? I’ll let you know at the end of 2015 when ALL of our debt is gone! ;0)
For all your readers, bite the bullet. Make the tough decision. Reach for your goals!
Thanks David. 14 hours a day is tough. Best of luck and hope you don’t burn out working that many hours back to back. I’ve done it before and had to eventually take some breaks. But I like your drive on working hard to pay down all your debt. Motivation and determination is half the battle!