Here I am, back with Part 2. In case you missed Part 1, please note my disclaimer that I by no means think I’m perfect. But since I consider most New Year’s resolutions as mini-self improvement plans and I personally love reading about what other people do to improve their lives, I want to share some things I do.
Understanding my finances and having a plan really makes me feel in control of my life. There was a time when I didn’t do a budget and was unclear on where I stood with money and it was very frustrating. I made an effort to change that and keep on top of things and that made a huge difference. I know it’s uncomfortable for some people to discuss money so if you are one of those people, maybe skip this section. But I also know there are some people who could use guidance–I was and still am one of them–so I’m passing on what I have learned.
For My Golden Years. As a self-employed person, I am responsible for saving for my own retirement. I have some real estate investments that will help with that and am now in the process of starting an actual retirement fund. If you’re not self employed, you might not have to worry about this. But I think it’s a good thing to do–and something I should have started a while back–for those of us who are our own bosses.
What Now, AmEx?!?! I’ve been working on paying off credit card and student loan debt for the past two years. I have only one out of three credit cards and one out of three school loans left to pay off. The amounts I owe aren’t huge and I should be able to be debt-free by the end of 2016, which will be an awesome feeling. In terms of what to pay off first, I initially went after the credit card that had the highest interest rate (which also happened to be the credit card with the highest balance). After that, I attacked a student loan because the remaining amount was so small I knew I could knock it out in one payment. That psychologically helped me feel better about my debt before I went on to conquer the next highest interest rate credit card. When all my debt is gone, my monthly expenses will have decreased significantly and my credit score will go up.
Get Rewarded. I have a credit card that gives me airline mile rewards, which I love. I put all of my monthly business expenses on that card (making sure to keep track of that amount and consider it in my monthly budget) and I pay the card off in full each month. I have more than enough miles for a free flight anywhere in the continental US right now, and I’m building good credit. This year, I plan on taking some time to better understand the perks my credit cards offer and take advantage of the ones that make sense for me.
AND EVERYTHING ELSE
There are a few other things I do that make my life better. They don’t fall into any of the other categories so they’re going here.
Lost Without You. Google Calendar is my saving grace. It gives me peace of mind knowing I won’t miss appointments, tax bill due dates, dinner plans, etc. With everything that goes on with my business and my personal life, there is no way I could remember everything. Not only do I put every appointment in my calendar, but reminders to do regular business tasks (i.e. confirm appointments one week out, update my Mileage Log, send invoices, etc.). They pop up on my screen and get emailed to me so there is no ignoring them. I learned about Google Calendar from my boss at my last job outside of the beauty industry and I can’t thank him enough for that.
Baby, I Can Be Your Motivation. When I have an idea of something I want to do to improve my life, I dig into it full force. For example, once I decided I’m at the point in my career where I can finally live somewhere warmer during the winter, I immersed myself in that plan. I researched weather, housing and the job market in areas I wanted to move to. I made connections in those places, followed Facebook pages of area attractions and read novels set in the city/towns I was eyeing. Doing all of this got me psyched up to arrange my life so that a snowbird move is possible. That and the final rap battle scene from 8 Mile get me mega-motivated.
Material Girl. I keep a list of long term things I want for my house, my personal makeup bag and my future library. I know they are just “things” and won’t make my life better, but I like making my apartment look the way I want it to, I like splurging on the occasional expensive beauty product for my own use and I am a bookworm who reads book several times so I would love a library someday. I don’t get myself these types of gifts very often, but it’s nice to chip away at the list a few times a year.
A Serene Space. As a child, I had many dream jobs. “Professional Organizer” was one of them. Although I love the look of an organized space and I think labels and storage areas are important, what I’m really big on is getting rid of clutter. If I don’t use or wear something and it doesn’t have true sentimental value or make my house look nicer, I donate it, pass it onto a friend or toss/recycle it. I absolutely believe that if you walk into your home and are greeted by clutter, you are going to feel frazzled and overwhelmed. I’m also into the Feng Shui principle that says getting rid of clutter will bring more positivity and peace into your home. The theory is that objects hold onto negative energy (emotions, situations and conversations you had around those objects do it) so getting rid of what you can part with will take some of that negativity out of your palace. If that sounds too crazy for you, I think you can at least agree that walking into a room that is clutter-free is more likely to make you feel calm than a room full of crap, which sometimes makes life feel more chaotic than it is.
Maybe some of my self/life improvement plans will resonate with you, or maybe you’ve got way better ideas. I’d love to hear what other people do so feel free to comment.
Have a beautiful day :)