A Fit and Fresh Financial Start for 2017
I won’t be the millionth writer to talk about what a train wreck 2016 was. I’m done with it and I refuse to beat that dead horse of a year any further. We’re on to 2017, which I literally began by stepping in dog shit, but I’m trying very hard not to see that as an omen or metaphor. How about we view 2016 as that ex who we were hung up on for far too long? Well guess what, 2016, we don’t think about you anymore. We’re deleting your number and will no longer scream-cry “You don’t deserve me!” while burning old pictures alone in a dark room. Unlike all our favorite actors and musicians, we actually survived 2016, and that’s something to be grateful for. Whether we’re going to kick 2017 in the ass, or let it kick us, directly depends upon the actions we take each day to better ourselves and make the most of the dumpster fire cards we’ve been dealt.
New Year’s resolutions get a tough wrap these days. They’re difficult to keep and we often set lofty and vague goals without a real plan to achieve them. I still think making resolutions and using the new year as a chance to reflect and improve is important. It’s healthy to take inventory of our lives every so often.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape or lose weight? Ok, so literally every single American who’s ever ordered Dominos just rolled their eyes and lifted their hand. If this is your goal for 2017, how about adding on financial fitness as well? Wouldn’t it be nice to see your waist shrink as your wallet grows?
So how do we create real financial change and get our money into shape in 2017?
1. We Want Six-Pack Abs and a Six-Figure Income
The most important, and hopefully your first step, is asking yourself “what do you really want in 2017?” Do you want to lose 20 lbs.? Do you want to pay off your credit card debt? Maybe save an extra $100 month? Whatever your goals may be you need you an action plan to achieve them. Use the SMART acronym when you’re writing your aspirations down.
Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Time-based. Type or write your financial goals and put them in a place where you’ll see them and be reminded of what you’re working toward every single day.
Start small. Set a goal for the week or month. Your small money changes seem insignificant in the short-term but over the course of the year they will make a difference.
2. Take a Look in the Mirror and at Your Accounts
How can you get in shape if you don’t know how you need to improve? A good personal trainer will tell you to have a plan before you go to the gym each day. Wondering aimlessly around Planet Fitness will only end in you choosing your couch instead of cardio. The same mentality goes for your personal finances. You need to have a plan, but you can’t do that unless you take inventory of your assets and liabilities (what you own vs. what you owe) as well as your monthly income vs. expenses (what you make vs. what you spend). Think of this as your first day pre-gym weigh in. It might be painful to see the numbers on the scale, but now you have an honest starting point from which to work from.
And if you identify with the person who awkwardly walks around the gym without a plan, please know I am also one of those people. I remedied this situation about 8 months ago by deciding to take fitness classes instead of just winging it. I’ve also worked up the courage to ask the certified and professional exerciser people for help, otherwise known as personal trainers. Turns out just because they’re abnormally beautiful and blessed with muscles and great bone structure, doesn’t mean they aren’t helpful and kind. Who knew! It’s amazing how my fitness level improved when I stopped being embarrassed and scared at the gym.
3. Throw All Your Shit Away! Just Kidding! Kind of!
I love decluttering after the holidays. Let’s start this year by throwing away or sell all the junk that doesn’t provide us joy. This is a great way to make some extra cash as well. My home’s level of clutter is directly related to my mental well-being. If you ever come into my house and see it’s a mess and there’s shit everywhere, just turn around and run back out the door because I’m probably in my Eeyore-type state and no one should have to deal with that.
Maybe this doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, decluttering the home creates organization in my brain, which then helps create order in my personal finances and overall well-being. I believe it’s all connected, or this may just be me realizing I’m most likely an undiagnosed case of OCD.
Ask yourself: are your purchases cluttering your life or adding value to it?
4. Spend On Happiness & Feminist Paraphernalia
Continuing on a similar point, if you’re a loyal reader by this point you probably believe I want you to trash or sell all of your possessions. That’s not the case, I swear! What I’m saying is your spending should add happiness to your life. That’s not always possible. Buying toilet paper or tampons probably isn’t going to give you happiness, unless you’re currently experiencing a bathroom emergency.
The purchases I’m referring to are the discretionary ones. What are you buying on the weekends or on Amazon? Is it truly adding value and/or joy to your life? Normally, I advocate spending on “experience” instead of material items, but I did find a pink and black coffee mug on Etsy which reads “YAS QUEEN” and it has added an extraordinary amount of joy into my life. Every time I open my cabinet and see that mug ready for my use I smile a very feminist and basic bitch smile. That mug is the definition of happiness.
5. Fitness Can Be Fun! Or So We’ve Been Told
I have terrible news. I touched on this earlier, but physical fitness and your overall well being go hand in hand. I’ve learned this the hard way. As someone with some pretty real experience with depression and anxiety, exercise has truly helped. Unfortunately for me, I hate exercising. I love playing sports, but just going to the gym and throwing around weights and running until I feel like my lungs may explode doesn’t do it for me. I’ll never understand people who run marathons. “Runner’s High” is a myth and probably something only masochists experience.
Still, I know how important it is to my mental health and my long-term physical health. The key to consistently exercising is finding a tolerable, and dare I say enjoyable, activity. This year I found a gym and an exercise program which is intense, but the workouts rarely exceed 20 minutes. This is perfect for my goldfish-like attention span.
So why should you care about some money writer telling you about their gym routine? Go back and read #3. Physical health helps your mental health which may help you in your financial health. For me, when I feel good and have more energy, I’m much more likely to take care of the other aspects of my life, including my money. When I’m feeling lazy and skip the gym, I also tend to skip caring for everything else. ITS ALL CONNECTED! In no way am I saying this is universal, but if you’re looking to create real change, it may help to remember how related every aspect of life can be.
Just as losing weight is a difficult and long journey, so is getting financially fit. So start small, set specific goals, and don’t give up if you make a mistake or two along the way. You can do it! By 2018 you’ll be a financially independent bad ass in a bikini!
I want to hear about your financial and fitness goals! Let’s dominate 2017 together! YAS QUEEN.