Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
As 2016 closes and 2017 opens, people start to act like xatu and resolution season begins. Xatuing, or what I will call reflecting on the past and looking into the future, tends to create goals as a way to improve the future.
I adore New Year’s resolutions! As such, I now xatu at different points throughout the year to keep the improvements going all year long!
The Big New Year’s Resolution
I like to give myself a big New Year'srResolution. It is usually something to strive for over the whole year that may hopefully become a natural habit.
My resolution for 2016 was to not purchase any plane tickets without using actual money. My goal was to work on my moody credit card relationship by using actual cash to immediately pay for the plane tickets.
I would consider 2016 successful.
I paid for my tickets to two weddings in May using some of my emergency fund money.*
Then this summer we took a week long trip to both Wyoming, to celebrate my parents’ 30th anniversary, and Wisconsin, for my fiancée’s family weekend. In order to afford this trip, both sets of parents helped us out. We are very appreciative and thankful that they were able and wanted to help us out.
I used airline miles to book my tickets for our Christmas trip to Wisconsin.
I have no idea if this year's resolution has become a natural habit or will continue into 2017. We have at least three trips to Minnesota to continue planning our wedding and I don’t believe I will be able to “afford” those trips in the same way. However, I do think I learned a lot about finding affordable flights and the joy of not using credit on large purchases.
In January of every year, I xatu my net worth and my annual spending reports from my credit cards and banks. I compare them with past years reviews and write down my goals in my financial diary. Later I evaluate how to put these goals into practice and work them into my quarterly goals.
In February and March, I prepare for tax season. Tax season isn’t really a time for xatuing, but it does happen as I clean out last year’s bill books and paystubs.
Then in November, I xatu my student loans as I reapply for my Income Based Repayment plan. This usually involves looking at how much the loans have decreased or increased and how I can plan to make better payments in the following year.
I used to xatu with an annual financial review at the bank, but I didn’t make the time this year.
Every February and August I xatu my Acorns account. Acorns is an app that tracks the spending of my food checking account and one of my credit cards. It then keeps track of the spare change from my purchases and invests it into my portfolio.
When I xatu my Acorns, I evaluate my portfolio and decide how I want to adjust my portfolio for the next six months. Once it's adjusted, I tell myself I have to let the portfolio do its thing, for better or worse, until it is time to xatu again. I like to adjust my portfolio because I get the feeling it rebalances the portfolio and it can utilize a new strategy for growth.
Every four months I xatu my credit card relationships with my Credit Card sticker sheets.
Back in August 2015, I realized that my credit cards and I needed to work on my credit card relationship. It had reached a place that no gym badge could help me and frustration was stronger than return. So, I recycled an idea from elementary school to track my credit card use. I made a sheet that covers four months and has spots to put a sticker every time I swipe my credit card. When I fill up all the spots for that card that month, the card must be put away under the bed. I don’t get it again until the following month. It has been pretty successful, but that is a post for another day.
From September 2015 to August 2016 I gave myself six swipes per card per month. The first four months of this system was a struggle, but it got better. Every time I xatued for the first year, I left it the same to give myself a year to adjust to the system.
When I xatued for September through December, I considered how I was doing with the system and attempted to future sight the following months. So far this cycle has been pretty successful and this December is already more successful than last year’s.
In my financial journal on my phone, an Evernote notebook, I separate my financial goals into three-month increment notes. If I think of a new goal or challenge, I write it down in the following quarter’s note to allow myself to continue to focus on the current quarter’s goals. Long term goals get broken down into the different quarters to encourage chipping away little by little.
When I xatu at the close of each quarter I determine if I was successful. If I wasn’t, I decide which goals I should baton pass into the following quarter. I also determine if the next quarter’s goals and challenges are reasonable based on whatever foresight I can make. Once I have it ready, I freeze it and can no longer edit it. I then use my frozen goals to help my monthly xatuing.
Starting in 2016 I started writing financial reviews to xatu my net worth monthly. This has become a great way for me to keep track of monthly events that I forget over time. As I prepare to xatu 2016’s total net worth growth, these have become very helpful in understanding what events cause what effects.
As I pay things each week, I keep track how successful I was at planning that month’s budget. These notes help me xatu my budget at the end of each month and adjust next month’s budget.
Xatuing can be a very useful practice and I am glad that I do it throughout the year. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? How often do you xatu?
*Short tangent... I know an emergency fund is important and I am working on it, but this year traveling was my priority. As I have said before, I know what I should be doing, but I also need to learn what works best for me at the specific time. Personal finances are not like evolving a caterpie, you put in the work and it’s done. They are like evolving a dratini, there is a lot of time in training for things to go awry and whatever can be corrected now, will be better for the future. In this case, it’s my credit card relationship. My emergency fund has already started replenishing itself.