2016 has arrived and as usual we are faced with the big question! How can we make this most of this year? CAN we make some small changes to really make a difference in our 2017? Absolutely!
If you’re anything like me, then you know how daily life can wear on you. Work, family life, keeping and maintaining a home, educating yourself and squeezing in time for hobbies and fun is…well frankly, an exhausting process! Who has time to add anything else to the mix? So I’ve come up with some simple changes that don’t require a lot of extra time but have to potential to make a really BIG change over the year!
1. Set up auto pay on your bills. Make automatic deposits to the account and let all of your bills take care of themselves. You won’t have to worry about late fees or forgetting to pay a bill and you can keep your play money in a separate account! Also it’s proven that thinking less about bills makes you happier and healthier! So let your bills take care of themselves! Best of all, this is going to BUY YOU MORE TIME to do things you want to do!
2. Read! Make it a point to read at least one book a month. Whether it be fiction that takes you away from life into someone else’s world, or self-help that will teach you something new about yourself or life! If you don’t already have a library card, sign up to get one! Find a book on the library website and pick it up! If you’re already an avid reader, why not try a new genre? Either way, the library is one of the best government resources available to us and is STILL FREE! Enjoy it while it lasts!
3. A hobby can bring a lot of joy into your life. So if you’re feeling stressed, it’s the perfect way to get your mind off of the negative and onto something positive! There are thousands upon thousands of choices! Think about what you love and look for hobbies that revolve around that. Example: Like to travel but can’t afford expensive trips? Start a local travel journal or blog and visit the areas and amenities in your own community and surrounding areas! Learn photography, knitting, painting, cooking! All these things and more can be learned via YOUTUBE! Put some time into your new hobby, it may turn into something great!
4. Strengthen the ties with your closest friends and family. Instead of checking facebook for updates from your sisters new job or pics of your cousins twins, pick up the phone and make a call! Pick an hour a week and make a list. Every week at the hour call someone on the list. When you’ve gotten to the end, start all over! Soon you’ll be adding more people and by the end of the year you’ll be planning a great party with everyone!
5. If you aren’t already saving, get started on a 401K or a deferred comp plan. Check with your company to see what the options are. As little as 25 bucks a week can really add up on one year, and will make a great difference by the time your retirement gets here! Already saving? Increase your investments by just a bit and better your yourself in the long run!
6. Sugar….so sweet! Yet it contributes to weight problems and disease such as diabetes for millions of Americans. Why? Because it’s so AVAILABLE and so overly used in our society. The recommended daily allowance of sugar is just 24 grams a day. Just one can of Coca-Cola has 39 grams! Grande Caramel Macchiato 41 grams, 1 cup raisin bran has 18 grams but don’t forget that one cup of milk has an additional 12! Some ways to reduce your daily sugar intake include cutting out processed foods, switching to almond or coconut milk, going black on your coffee, cutting out sodas entirely. Tip: Indulge in expensive candy instead of the cheap stuff. One high quality candy or chocolate is much more satisfying than a handful of junky cheap stuff. Try to use artificial sweeteners but keep in mind, they may be just as bad for you as sugar….so use them sparingly. The idea is to totally wean yourself from the sweet stuff. After one year you will thank yourself for the difference you have made in your overall health with this one decision.
7. When winter is over, and the ground softens, order and plant your bulbs. You won’t see any growth this year at all but next year, when you are tired of winter and shoveling the snow, when everything has been brown, ugly and dried up for months…you will walk outside one morning to see the purple white and yellow heads of your crocus popping up, even while there is snow on the ground sometimes! A few weeks later you’ll have tulips, daffodils and my FAVORITE, hyacinth! Nothing screams spring and brings a smile to your face, like the arrival of these flowers!
8. The best one on the list! Plan your dream trip! Decide on a destination, estimate the travel, meals and accommodations. Divide that number by 12 months. If it’s feasible, put that much money each month into a separate account. Not feasible? Divide it into 24 or even 36. Two or three years is not a bad amount of time to save for a DREAM vacation! And at the very least, at the end of one year you’ll be well on your way to getting there! If your single, consider asking a friend to accompany you, this will bring your cost down a bit as well as ensure you won’t be alone as you travel the world! (not to mention you’ll have someone to snap that photo of you standing in front of that beautiful Irish Castle!