One of the best decisions I’ve made when it comes to setting yearly goals is to set goals for more than just the standard areas, like improving your health or saving X amount of money for Y account. In 2017 and 2018, I had goals like playing X number of video games or reading X number of books or seeing how many new recipes I could make. These goals were fun, and even if I didn’t always 100% reach them, I still stuck with them throughout the year instead of giving up in despair sometime in February.
As you think about the money goals you want to set for 2019, look beyond goals that are strictly about finances. There are a number of goals you can set for your own personal development and enrichment that, as an added bonus, can also give your financial life a boost. Here three such goals to consider for next year:
1. Find new ways to expand your social life.
Hanging out with friends and family can get expensive fast, especially if busy schedules mean you end up doing get-togethers on short notice or have to meet up at a halfway point instead of doing something cheaper at home.
One of my friends came up with the idea to do a cooking club. Every month, someone in the group volunteers to demonstrate how to make a favorite dish, whether that’s chicken pot pie or paprikash or black bean and spinach enchiladas. We’ve even had people demonstrate simple cake decorating techniques or walk us through the basics of creating your own home garden. We schedule the cooking club weeks ahead of time because of busy schedules and small children, and since there are enough of us, we only need to volunteer maybe once or twice every year. The rest of the time, you get to show up to socialize, learn how to make a new thing, and eat for free.
Brainstorm what would work for you and your social circle. Maybe it’s a rotating movie night or a craft/DIY learning experience. Whatever it is, scheduling regular time to be with your friends in a low-cost, low-stress environment will help you improve your social life — and cut down on your socializing budget.
2. Make it a priority to learn something new.
I’m of the opinion that learning something new is a great way to keep from feeling like your life is going nowhere. And learning doesn’t have to be as structured or demanding as a school environment. It also doesn’t have to be expensive.
During my annual review, I asked my manager if our department had a budget for training. As it turns out, there is one! I’m now looking for local conferences and seminars that could be relevant to my position, and if I find something that sounds worthwhile, I’ll pass on the information on to my manager. Some of the places I’ve worked for also had tuition reimbursement, so it’s worth asking if there are similar opportunities for you to become more valuable to your company on their dime (and use that to leverage better compensation for yourself).
Local colleges frequently have classes for continuing education, as do many libraries. (Not to mention all the books in the library you can learn from.) One of my local grocery chains hosts cooking classes, and YouTube is filled with all kinds of educational videos, from how to do basic home maintenance repairs to how to budget an unpredictable income. Acquiring knowledge and developing skills are always worthwhile endeavors, and many of them can directly, or indirectly, help you either save money or learn to use it wisely. And if you do have the time, money, and desire for it, going back to school can be immensely helpful for your financial life, whether you want to make a transition to a better-paying industry or get the degree or certification you need to qualify for a higher salary.
3. Reassess your entertainment options.
If you’re anything like me, you have acquired more books than you’ve actually been able to read. I get it! There are just so many good books coming out all the time! And yet one-sixth of my bookshelf space is dedicated to books I’ve acquired and not yet read (and this is after purging my shelves earlier this year!). I also happen to be the queen of buying video games, getting to the point where you can explore the map freely, getting side-tracked by side quests, and then never finishing because I buy another game and start the cycle over. And don’t get me started on the movies I fell in love with in the theater, bought on DVD, and then never watched again.
I’m not normally someone who advocates for any kind of spending ban, but if you happen to be like me and hoard entertainment faster than you can consume it, it might be a good goal for you to enjoy what you already have (and give your wallet a breather). This year one of my goals was to read two books per month and to complete four video games, and I’m happy to say that I’ve already hit my book goal and made significant headway on my unread books. I’m only halfway through my video game goal, but I’ve also decided I’m not allowed to buy a new one until I finish an old one. (Kingdom Hearts III is out at the end of January, so I’ve got to get moving!)
Making a commitment to enjoy the entertainment I already own (and rereading/rewatching/replaying my favorites) will significantly reduce my entertainment costs, and I hope it will also make me more thoughtful with my new entertainment purchases.
Whatever goals you decide to make for 2019, keep in mind the kind of goals that will help you enjoy your life — especially if they will have the added bonus of improving the state of your wallet.
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