We thought it would be really fun to host an AFS student during the school year. (AFS is an international study abroad program for high schoolers.) Giulia arrived from Italy in early August and we’ve spent the past few months showing her the highlights of New England. So what better way to kick off the New Year than a night in historic Boston? We enjoyed an Italian dinner in the North End, our own “little Italy”. The girls took a horse and buggy ride around Faneuil Hall. Then, we walked out to the harbor to watch fireworks at midnight. It was such a nice celebration.
January 1st is always such a good day for me. I get to kiss last year goodbye while ringing in a fresh new year that can be sculpted and crafted into something new and different. Looking back to my resolutions last year, I’m pleased to say that I did ok. It was a challenge to reduce debt while trying to save for retirement and travel, but we just chipped away at each goal every month.
This year, I need to get back to some basics. My resolutions are straightforward and actionable. I want to be able to keep up with them during this busy year. While running around for years raising my kids and running my business, some of the fundamental good financial behaviors fell to the back burner. So this year, I’m resolving to do the following:
• Get back to the discipline of balancing my checkbook every month. It’s easy to do if you don’t fall behind. If I just spend about 30 minutes each week, I can keep good track of our spending then adjust each month as needed. I think I’ll use Monday nights during “Dancing with the Stars” to manage my checkbook.
• Use technology more to streamline the bill paying. I love not wondering if the mortgage got paid on time. Several of our bills were set up on “auto pay” long ago but not all of them. Some payments can be set up so that I can pay them online. This year I resolve to move more bill paying online.
• Increase my retirement savings and revisit how my investments are performing. Being self-employed means that I have to put my own discipline in place to make sure I am saving enough for retirement. Lately, I haven’t spent much time looking at my investments. So I resolve to restart my basic good habit of reviewing them each year, with a periodic peek mid-year.
So, I feel ready to start 2013 with a renewed focus on financial basics. Once my new routine is in place, I can enjoy sharing more of America with our exchange student!
Have a wonderful New Year.