Know Where Every Dollar Goes: We'd like to begin using You Need a Budget to really narrow our focus on our budget and be sure that we're making the most of every dollar we earn. This is even more important as we look toward adding baby #2 to our family in March. Of course, we're already really frugal and try to keep close tabs on things, but the idea of You Need a Budget is to live off of last month's income, so that you've essentially already got a one month emergency fund. We'd really like to totally pay off our home equity line this year, and have already paid off the new-to-us car, and we think this is a budgeting tool that can help us.
Invest More for Retirement: As a part of using YNAB, we think it will allow us to see more clearly just how much more we can invest toward retirement. Since Benny has been a SAHD, we've cut his contributions some, but we're really feeling like we could be contributing more toward his retirement. This will of course be easier once we've paid off the HEL, but we think by using tools like Acorns or Betterment, these microinvesting tools might make the retirement contributions even easier.
Intentionally Work on our Home Improvement Projects: This year, we've got several things on the list that we'd like to tackle. Many of them are small projects, but they're also the type that we tend to put off just for that reason. We'd like to be very intentional about checking these off each month so that they're done by the end of the year. A lot of these projects will be tackled in the evenings after little man is in bed, or while he is at preschool, or on weekend afternoons.
- Paint trim in boys room, including closet doors by March. (This includes new caulk, etc. where needed)
- Touch up trim/paint in rental spaces by end of January.
- Advertise upstairs rental through Samaratin's Purse and have rented by February, if not sooner. Advertise both spaces for August/when lease runs out and have filled by April for upcoming season.
- Install Ecobee thermostat in apartment by January 15 (this is when our new tenant moves in).
- Organize garage space by March 15. This includes installing some drywall and pegboard, as well as generally sorting and storing tools, etc.
- Have new mulch spread and gutters cleaned by March 15 (this is a job we will hire out).
- Paint shelving and trim in craft room downstairs by March 15. Paint chairs to go around table in craft room.
- Move forsythia bushes to front bed and plant creeping Jenny ground cover. Have this done around the same time as mulch is spread so that mulch and compost can go here. (March-ish, depending on soil workability.)
- Mulch leaves with mower and add to compost by end of February.
- Have mower serviced for spring by April 30.
- Paint exterior doors in chosen new color by June 30.
- Have new front porch railings installed and bead board on the ceiling of the porch. Maybe an outdoor ceiling fan installed over the table area? by June 30
- Can at least two batches of peach salsa and two of berry jam for Christmas gifting and personal use.
- Have both porches re-stained (we're thinking of hiring this out to a contractor who Benny does a lot of work for at the paint store).
- Maintain garden beds with regular weeding and trimming throughout growing season. Prepare for fall/winter by October 30.
- Make curtains for craft room shelves to hide some supply bins by November 30.
- Make reusable coffee sleeves for Christmas gifts by November 30. (And learn how to use new sewing machine)
- Make at least one batch of citrus marmalade by December 15 for Christmas gifting.
Have at least 26 dates with Benny: This works out to be at least two a month, which I think it do-able with a newborn being around. This might be as simple as popcorn and a movie at home one Saturday afternoon, or maybe dinner out somewhere. We're going to set a budget of $5/date, which doesn't sound like much, but I think with giftcards, coupons, and having some free at home, we'll be able to make it work. We know that we're much better as a couple when we spend some time for just us doing something we love, so we'll make this a priority.
Read at least 26 new books this year: Again, this works out to about one every two weeks. It'll be a mix of adult fiction, young adult fiction, nonfiction, and devotionals. I know that reading is one thing that feeds my soul and gives me the quiet time I crave each day. I also know that I'll probably read more while on maternity leave than I anticipate, with many nursing sessions, and I tend to read more in the summers than during the school year, so it may not be exactly one every two weeks, but it seems like a good goal.
Try at least two new recipes a month: We tend to get into ruts with our menus, as I know many people do. I'm hoping that this goal will grow naturally out of my habit of reading cookbooks for pleasure, and will introduce us to some new recipes that will become family favorites. Some may be a total flop, but I'm hoping that most will be a success. (Do the new ones I tried for Christmas gifting count?!)
What are your habits to cultivate in the coming year? I'd love to hear how you plan to live and save green in 2016!