2013 – Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

candle

 

Last year was pretty rough and the new year doesn’t seem to be treating me much better so far.  I have decided to go about my goals in a gentler, kinder manner this year, with the overall focus being on simplifying all aspects of my life.

Be present. 

I need to accept that I can’t change the past and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I will focus on each day and find the blessings within it.

Family first.

I have a very small family and I feel like I haven’t done enough to show how important they are to me. I will spend more time with them beyond birthdays, holidays, etc.

Nurture relationships.

I will focus on my marriage this year.  It has taken a beating the last couple of years. My husband is my partner and should have input in all significant decisions. We will start traveling again.

Unclutter my life.

I will let go of the past. I will let go of broken relationships. I will get rid of material clutter.

Learn.

I will read personal finance, blogging & leadership resources. I will continue to blog. I hope to attend Fincon 2013.

Eat less.

I will eat real food. I will try new things. I will eat slower.

Move more.

I will walk and bike along the beautiful parkway I live on. I will walk my dog.

Spend less.

I am doing another no spend challenge. This time I will try not to buy any new clothes from Jan. through March, with the exception of undergarments. I’d love to make it through the year, adding other categories along the way.

Save more.

Use automatic methods to save with 401k (s), Impulsesave & Roth IRA(s). I am also participating in the 52-week savings challenge.

Full of Fail – 2012 in Review

 

2012

2012 turned out to be a very difficult year, particularly in the area of my health. I was on a medical leave for 3 months and still find it nearly impossible to work a 40 hour week, which has subsequently affected every area of my life.

Health

Adopt a healthier lifestyle through better food choices and exercise. Fail. I’ve made efforts to eat better, but haven’t been consistent. I have not exercised at all, beyond getting out to walk occasionally.

Lose 50# with the help of Weight Watchers online tools and possibly meetings. Fail. I only lost 5#.

Continue to work with health professionals to develop a management plan for my fibromyalgia. Pass. I still do not know what is going on beyond fibromyalgia, but the list of things I don’t have keeps growing so that’s a start, I guess.

Wealth

Pay off $12K of credit card debt while not incurring any additional debt (with the possible exception of a used car loan if one of our 1997 or 2000 model year vehicles dies a terrible death). Pass/Fail. I cashed out two of my retirement accounts to pay off our credit card debt, when I thought I wasn’t returning to my job. We also replaced our 1997 Acura CL and now have a car payment.

Contribute 6% to my company’s 401K (from 0%) and have husband increase his contribution from 3 to 6%. Pass. I’ve increased my contribution to 7%.

Pay cash for a trip to Portland in April and Fincon 2012 in the Fall and start saving for my sister’s destination wedding in Winter 2013. NA. We did not travel to Portland or Denver & doubt the destination wedding will be held next month since nothing is booked.

Donate to worthy charities. Pass. I did the majority of my giving on MN Give to the Max Day.

Start to earn a passive income from blogging by the end of the year. Pass. I’ve earned less than $1.

Growth

Blog 3 times a week minimum. Fail. Once again, I failed at consistency.

Learn WordPress. Fail (?) I decided to pay someone to redesign my site.

Read 12 or more books on personal finances, leadership, blogging and WordPress. Fail. My reading selections were limited to mysteries.

Attend Fincon 2012. Fail. My husband got laid off the week before Fincon, so we just couldn’t justify attending.

Life is a journey and is why I will attempt to achieve more goals in 2013. Check back in tomorrow.

We’re Debt Free and Employed, Now What?

 

I returned to work full-time on Sept. 19 and my husband will start his new job on Oct. 22. We are out of debt due to cashing out two retirement accounts because I wasn’t planning on returning to work.

We are painfully aware that we are sorely underfunded for retirement, but we also have a 1997 Acura that is on its last leg. We would also like to own a home (a modest one this time).

We are struggling to prioritize these purchases while still saving and investing. We also know we have to do what’s right for us. So far this is what we have:

  1. Emergency fund, savings for income taxes and 401k contributions.
  2. Tuition – My husband is going back to school in January.
  3. Buy a car – We’ll need to replace the Acura before we have cash to pay for one outright, but we intend to pay it off early.
  4. Buy a home – We will probably take advantage of a VA loan and hope to have a mortgage payment that less than our current rent.
  5. Vacation – We don’t know where or when since my husband is starting a new job.  There is a possibility my sister will still have a destination wedding this winter.
  6. Additional retirement investing beyond 401k and house value.

Are you out of debt? How did you make decisions regarding your future?

28 years of consecutive employment only to start over (guest post by Glenn Suckow)

 

Over the past 28 years of my life I have only held 4 jobs and that is if you count the Army Reserve.  At age 17, I started working for a small local pharmacy and I joined the Army Reserve. After 7 years of catching every persons cold that walked thru the pharmacy I was let go because the post office portion was short some 3000 stamps and obviously I was the one using them to wallpaper my small apartment.  (Never mind the other dozen or so people who ran that counter also.). I didn’t let that get to me too much.  I had been going to a community college to get some of my electives out of the way with every intension to go back and get a degree at some point.

At the suggestion of my girlfriend at the time (Now my wife) I  had applied with a temp service and was working within the next week.  As a temp at this new job I started as a machine operator cutting electrical cords for vacuums and other small appliances.  While still being a temp, I was already noticing that I could be far more productive if only I could learn to do all of the set-ups my self, so every time I went to get my supervisor, I paid close attention to what he was doing…after a while, I started to set my own machine up and had the supervisor check it before I turned the machine on.  After some time, the company hired me on full-time.  This was a piece work job, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the more I cut, the more money I was going to make.  After a lot of hard work I was now able to run 3 machines at the same time, something no one they had previously done.  I eventually became the lead person of the cutting department…this allowed me to start learning other things within the company.  At my peak, I was running the cutting department, and fixing or setting up every other machine  in the factory.

After 10 years working here I was offered a job working for a “friend” at a start-up business selling Rotary Lobe Pumps. He was a salesman working for a German pump company that wanted to open a branch here in the U.S.  So it started…we worked out of the basement of the duplex he was living at for the next 3 years…during this time I was sent to Germany on September 10th, 2001…that’s right the day BEFORE the twin towers were attacked.  This would prove to be a difficult 3 weeks in a country that I did not speak the language…in fact, each night after work I would try to watch tv to see what was going on back home, but with only 2 channels to choose from (German or Dutch) it was real hard.  I was there to learn as much about the pumps and the company as possible, and that is what I did.

Over the next 11+ years I learned (primarily on my own) how to do the basics in accounting, how to do CAD drawings using a German CAD program (not a stitch of English), process and fill orders for both pumps and parts.  After 3 years we moved into our first facility.  We bought some general equipment, and decided to start assembling the pumps here to save a lot of money on freight expenses…as we got bigger and moved into an even larger facility so that we had the room to do our own manufacturing and save even more money.  Over time, I had essentially became in charge of final assembly and shipping.

The last few weeks we had a large-scale training event for our reps to come and learn more about out products.  It was at this point that many meetings between the German owner and the one who ran the U.S. facility was held…two weeks later, I was called into his office and told that the company was going in a direction that no longer needed me to work in the office…I was given two options.  I could either step down and take a 6 week severance package or I could go back to assembling the pumps with a pay cut that would put me back to $4700 LESS than I made when I was first hired 11 1/2 years ago.

Well, this was the easiest (and hardest) decision I have ever had to make…I am currently unemployed…but over the past few years, I have been increasingly unhappy with how I was being treated, and by leaving, I now have the opportunity to go back to school to do something that I really have interest in…Graphic Arts!  Over the past 25 years, I have had full support from my now wife…while I was working, she had the excellent chance of finish her schooling…now that I am unemployed, she is urging me to finally get back to school and do some thing that I am interested in and will enjoy.