We’re going into a very weird year for me.
I feel…. off. Uncertain. I’m not sure what will happen to my rights in the next four years, and it’s the first time in my life I’ve actively worried about it. And that makes me feel empathetic because I know there are many, many others worldwide who feel this every day of their whole lives. I feel lucky to have made it 34 years without this feeling.
Still, I’m in a family that mostly voted against my interests and that’s hard. I’m angry, and I still want to love these people. This election taught me that I’ve been too comfortable and too uninvolved.
2017 will force me to take stock of what’s really important to me — as a woman and as a mother.
1. Do what I can do to make a difference.
This isn’t about political idealolgy. This election cycle taught me that. I give zero shits about Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals and libertarians. What I care about is patriotism and rights and equality. What I care about is being open minded and hearing all sides and digesting information and having informed opinions. I have a coworker who often says “I haven’t done enough of my own research to talk about that.” Wouldn’t it be great if more of us approached the world that way?
2. Consume less.
For years, I’ve been eating fewer things that are processed and making more myself and reusing. I buy less. I own less. Everything I want from the world is less.
Clothing: Last year, I had $262.50 of my $500 budget left at the end of the year. Some of my favorite clothes are ones I’ve bought at thrift stores for a dollar or five. I find myself trolling internet clothing sales because they are good deals, not because I need anything. I’m not giving myself a new budget this year. I’m going to budget myself $262.50 from last year and see what happens.
House: I’m pledging to scour Craigslist/Freecycle/Buy Nothing/ReStore for two weeks before buying items for my house in 2017. Or to make it myself if the cost/time commitment is right. Namely, I need exterior doors, countertop, backsplash, paint, etc. I got very lucky in 2016: I have one room that needs wood flooring and I was able to get it for free. That’s ~$2,000 saved on the cost of flooring, not to mention diverting items from the landfill.
Food: This is a biggie for me. We waste so much food and it’s awful. There’s probably not much to be done about Thomas at this age, but Josh and I can make improvements.
3. Move my 401(k)s.
This is a carryover from last year, and I’m going to try to tackle it early and get it off my list.
I lost sight of my savings goal in 2016, mostly because of the new house. We spent more cash that I would like to think about remodeling it. It costs 1/3 more than our old house each month. I can’t always put real dollars into my savings account lately, but there are ways I can realize monetary savings. Josh and I also are talking about how to pay off everything and invest better for our future (both for college for Thomas and for retirement for us).
DIY: I need to tackle some home projects myself to save a few thousand dollars. In 2017, I’m going to paint my house myself. But I’m looking for other ways to spend less, so look for blog posts about that.
$3,000: This is the amount I want my savings account to be up at the end of the year (not including any monetary gifts we might receive, but I want to save those monetary gifts, too).
$1,000: This is the amount I want to add to Thomas’ savings in 2017. When I was pregnant, I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to save $500/yr for my child and hand him the account when he graduates college, with $11,000 to his name and the possibility that might bring. In reality, I’ve been saving more.
Stock purchase: I divert 10% of my salary into employee stock of my parent company. My company matches 30% and adds a 20% kicker in years we’re profitable. I need to remember to up my contribution as my salary grows.
This might also involve making a budget. I’ve been looking into using YNAB. But I need to get Josh on board.
5. Find joy.
2016 was about just putting my head down and surviving. In 2011, I did the same thing. Only 2011 was worse. At least I didn’t seriously question my mental health at any point last year. Can’t say the same for 2011. If that’s not a glimmer of a silver lining, I don’t know what is.
Go on a long weekend, just the three of us.
Find peace with a messy house. Or hire someone to clean it.
I might think of others, but I’m ready to share this.