December 2008


For the month of December I was able to knock out a  goal off my life list, but not the one I was trying to achieve this month. I’m still working on my Guitar Hero goal. I’m still stuck on one song (“Woman” by Wolfmother) and until I get past that song, I won’t make much progress on the game.

Fortunately, flossing my teeth doesn’t require the same fast fingerwork that a guitar requires, so I finished the goal of flossing for 30 days straight.  Apparently my dentist has been right all along- flossing is good for your teeth. I probably won’t keep flossing every single day from now on, but I will still do it every other day or so.

In any case, getting this goal and establishing a healthy habit was surprisely easy. The reason I haven’t tried to floss regularly in the past was because of a permanent metal retainer welded to the back of my front lower teeth. This makes my front teeth all straight and pretty, but makes it tricky to thread floss. Alas, this was a lousy excuse for my dentist, who provided me with some plastic floss threaders. Using those made flossing much easier. Plus, setting aside two minutes after brushing at night made it easy to floss on a regular basis.

For the next month, I’m going to detox from all the holiday feasting by trying out a vegetarian diet for 30 days. And I will still keep plugging away at Guitar Hero. I wonder if my dentist has any special plastic devices that will make guitar-playing easy?

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Ah, it’s that time of year again. The time when people feel compelled to set lofty goals and ambitous resolutions for the next year. I admit I’m not exempt from this trend. The end of one year and the start of the next is a great time to evaluate where I’ve been and where I’d like to go next. For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about what my goals will be for 2009 and how I would go about achieving them. For the next year, most of my goals focus on finances. When I look at my life list, the major obstacle in the way is simply not having the funds to do them. If I had the money, then there would be nothing stopping me from flying around the world or going out and helping other people improve their lives. So my goal this year is to refocus my finances and to put my resources towards the things I care about and will make a difference rather then to trival stuff that won’t last the year.

Specifically, this is what I want to do:

1. Cut my monthly expenses by $300.

I plan to do this in 3 ways. One is to pay off my car loan. This will make me debt-free and free up nearly $200 to use towards other goals. Another is to cut my cable. I’m currently in talks with my apt. complex to get the cable removed, but it may not happen until later this year when my lease comes up for renewal. The third way is to raise the deductible on my car insurance. Once I build up a larger emergency fund, I would be comfortable raising my deductible which will reduce my monthly premium.

2. Increase my income by $200 a month.

This goal is a bit trickier for me. I want to create other sources of income for me outside of my job. That income could come from taking on a part-time job, finding freelance work, even generating income off of this blog. I’m not sure I can actually generate an extra $200 this way, but I won’t know until I try.

3. Build up my emergency fund to cover 3 months of expenses.

I have already been working on building up an emergency fund for most of the last year, but with a worsening economy, having a cushion of cash to fall back on in an emergency is more of a priority for me. I’m already saving, but I want to increase the amount I’m putting towards my e-fund.

4. Build up the dream fund to at least $2,500.

My dream fund is a savings account that I put money into for the goals on my list. If the fund is empty, it becomes rather difficult to fund my adventures. So I’m planning to use some of the money that I save/earn through the first two goals and funnel it towards the account.

5. Increase my charitable giving.

It is important to me to give back to other people and organizations that have given so much to me. I already give about 10% of my income to charity, but would love to push it up to 13%. This financial goal will be the most challenging one for me, but again through cutting expenses and increasing income I hope to achieve this by the end of ’09.

My other big goal for 2009 is to continue working on my life list. I would like to cross off at least 12 goals off my list and I will be detailing my plan of attack in another post.

I will also be posting my progess on these resolutions and any setbacks I encounter along the way throughout the next year. In the meantime, feel free to post your new year’s resolutions in the comments section.

My thought for today is for everyone who is out traveling to visit loved ones today on th is holiday. I hope that the  airport lines are short;   that the roads are clear; and that the kids don’t ask “are we there yet” too many times. Merry Christmas!

My thought for today is for everyone who is out traveling to visit loved ones today on th is holiday. I hope that the  airport lines are short;   that the roads are clear; and that the kids don’t ask “are we there yet” too many times. Merry Christmas!

Last year after living in my apartment for about a year, I decided to go through all the bins I had laying around and see if I could empty out one or two of them. I managed to empty out 4 bins and was able to get rid of a great deal of clutter that I had accumulated over the last 5 years or so. In the process I found all kinds of junk from manuals for equipment I no longer had; clothes I had not worn since high school; empty boxes; and several broken items. But buried under all that clutter I found things like old photo albums; mementos from memorable trips; books that I enjoy reading; and other items that I didn’t know I had that would be useful to me. But because they were covered in clutter, I couldn’t use them.

I realized this year as I was doing my annual closet cleanup that creating my life goals list served a similar purpose that cleaning does. It helps me to focus on what’s really important to me. For example, when I’m cleaning out my closet, I only kept thing that either served some kind of ulitarian purpose, such as nice clothes that still fit, or items that had some kind of very strong memory attached to them. I then either trashed or donated everything else. By creating my list, I’m now starting to do things like replacing mindless TV shows with sessions of running or practing on Guitar Hero. I’m also doing things like not spending money on eating out but saving instead for plane tickets to places on my list. Closet cleaning is also helping me literally with the list. I’ve found most of the picture frames I’ll need for Goal #93, which is hanging pictures of friends and family around the apt, just lying around in a bin. Once I pick out the pictures to put in them, I’ll be very close to finishing that goal.

Odds are, most everyone has some area in their living/work space that could use some cleaning. I suspect even neat freaks probably have some abandoned boxes in some musty corner of the attic somewhere. Here are some tips on how cleaning can help you achieve your life goals.

1. Find stuff to sell. Whether it’s items out of a large CD/DVD/book collection; electronics; antiques; or that old fur coat Aunt Betty gave you; odds are you have something that is worth selling. By using eBay, Craigslist, or a garage sale, you can get rid of your stuff and raise some cash to fund your goals.

2. Clean out your car. If you have a vehicle, getting rid of junk will reduce the weight the car has to move and subsequently improve your gas mileage. Better gas mileage=more money for your dreams.

3. Give stuff away to friends. While I was cleaning, I found a colorful scarf that was in very good condition but I never wore it. I put the scarf into a gift exchange and the friend who received it was very appreciative of it. Giving stuff to friends who can use them is a great way to build up relationships and can be useful if you need a favor from them later.

4. Donate stuff to charity. By doing this, you’re not only helping out other folks in need, but you may also get a tax deduction as well. This is what I end up doing with most of my stuff, since I don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to sell stuff.

5. Recycle your stuff into art. If you have lots of old CDs, soda cans, wine bottles or really lots of anything, you can use your creative muscle and create something new and functional out of old items. You can then either reuse the new item in your place or sell it.

Go forth and get clean!

As the next wave of holiday travel washes over the airports, it’s good to try to maintain a sense of humor as people who don’t fly on a regular basis flood the airports over the next few weeks. Several travel bloggers have gotten together to lanuch a new satirical blog about the aviation industry. If you’re a fan of The Onion, then you’ll love the new Aviation Dally blog. It does a great job of poking fun at the airlines and exaggerating the insanity that is the commercial flying industry these days.

As for my holiday travel plans, I won’t be flying. I’m working both Christmas and New Year’s Day, but squeezed in a long weekend between the two to go visit some friends in Tampa and to go to a family reunion in South Georgia. It’ll be a lot of driving for me- over 500 miles round trip- but it’ll be worth it to spend time with people that I love. And that’s the point of the holidays in the first place. Besides, with hopefully light traffic and the radio tuned to NPR, it should be a pleasent and easy drive.

As the next wave of holiday travel washes over the airports, it’s good to try to maintain a sense of humor as people who don’t fly on a regular basis flood the airports over the next few weeks. Several travel bloggers have gotten together to lanuch a new satirical blog about the aviation industry. If you’re a fan of The Onion, then you’ll love the new Aviation Dally blog. It does a great job of poking fun at the airlines and exaggerating the insanity that is the commercial flying industry these days.

As for my holiday travel plans, I won’t be flying. I’m working both Christmas and New Year’s Day, but squeezed in a long weekend between the two to go visit some friends in Tampa and to go to a family reunion in South Georgia. It’ll be a lot of driving for me- over 500 miles round trip- but it’ll be worth it to spend time with people that I love. And that’s the point of the holidays in the first place. Besides, with hopefully light traffic and the radio tuned to NPR, it should be a pleasent and easy drive.

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