• March goal checkin

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    * Save 40 per cent of income. Saved 42 per cent, including payment from side job (about a third of which went to our new passports! Gah)

    * Keep eating out to $160 a month.. Oopsies! Totally blew this – $213 was the final damage. There was a friend’s birthday, a few drinks out, a few dinners – one night we tried a new restaurant after I finished work instead of going grocery shopping (it was 9am on a Sunday…) In fact, it’s just been one of those months. Life months. Add rotating shifts into the mix and I ended up buying some few lunches (bless Revive and their half-price vouchers – I’ve gotten so many on the backs of my bus tickets lately!)

    * Donate to charity every month. Done! (I have an ever-growing list of causes to donate to. All these natural disasters keep derailing it.) Oh, and I finally started a small change fund to keep in my wallet for buskers. I always encounter awesome street musicians but never have coins for them. But now I do! And I gave my first dollar to a guy letting rip some Led Zep.

    * Text one friend a week. Er. Didn’t keep track. But as I had free calling credit, I made a few calls this month. And I did more socialising this month than I have in a looong time.

    * Learn to confidently use full manual settings on my dSLR. Took my longer lens out for a spin (can’t remember how long it is and too lazy to get up and check.) Any tips on making the most of it?

    * Read 100 books. I’m not reading as fast as I normally do, so I’m not quite on track with this, having only read 16 books. A) I have less free time lately and B) I’m reading much more challenging books. Books which I want to savour, and which deserve not to be skimmed.

    * Continue running at least once a week, and run a 10k. Win! Here’s a recap of how my race went.

    Just realised I didn’t think up a monthly challenge for March nor do I have one brewing for April. Maybe I’ll come up with one in May.

    How did your goals go this month?

  • February goal checkin

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    February wasn’t so bad. I made my Shape Up for March goals (holla Serendipity!) running twice a week and a $500 grocery budget for two.

    Save 40 per cent of income. Done.

    Keep eating out to $160 a month. Done

    Donate to charity every month. Errr…fail.

    Text one friend a week. Done, although again, not all instigated by me, I must admit.

    Learn to confidently use full manual settings on my dSLR. Went out one morning to shoot for fun (or was it two mornings?) Anyway, baby steps. I’m not allowing myself to use the P mode at all – it’s either full manual or at the very least, aperture or shutter priority.

    Progress on goal of reading 100 books. I’ve read 10 so far. That leaves 90 in 10 months…

    Continue running at least once a week, and run a 10k. Yep. Although I haven’t been doing so well – I’ve been getting strange pains, cramps (I think that was due to not eating enough beforehand) and nearly passing out (dehydration, oops.) I haven’t run more than a couple of ks since, er, last year? I’m hoping to do a 10k late this month – it’ll be my last chance. If I can’t do it in under an hour, well, what’s the point?

  • February goal checkin

    I can’t lie: I’ve been slack on my 2011 goals so far. February needs to be better!

    So, this month I will:

    1. run 2x a week and do exercises at home 2x a week (separate from warmups prior to runs).
    2. organise our passports
    3. sort out somewhere to stay for Wellington
    4. and try to keep groceries to $500 (I’ll post a weekly summary)

    Goals

    Save 40 per cent of income. I know I did, as I received payment for two months of freelancing and saved it all. Not so sure how that compares with just day-job income…I’ll do a proper breakdown tomorrow!

    Keep eating out to $160 a month.I have a good feeling about January, but all will be revealed…

    Donate to charity every month. Yes, albeit a piddly, gold-coin amount to the Queensland floods. Will definitely make a decent donation this month.

    Text one friend a week. Done, though I can’t say I initiated all of the convos!

    Learn to confidently use full manual settings on my dSLR. Not even close. Need to make time to just go out to the park and mess around.

    Read 100 books. Six down. 94 to go!

    Continue running at least once a week, and run a 10k. Uh…I went for a 10-min run yesterday, the first time in nearly two weeks. Pathetic. I’m off my game and need to step it up! At this rate I’ll never run a 10k this summer, and that is not acceptable.

    On the plus side, my best friend is back in the country, which pretty much amps up my socialising 1000%. I reckon I’ve also outdone myself on the cooking front of late. Today, for example, I’m chowing down on a couscous salad with roasted eggplant, capsicum, onion, tomato, cucumber and lemon, yoghurt and olive oil. I also tried out a couple of crockpot recipes as well as sea salt choc chip cookies, buttermilk biscuits, sweet and sour chicken, chicken strips and more, all of which are a decided WIN. Are you hungry yet?

    (PS – Thanks for all your comments on my last post! Petrol is basically $2 a litre and it’s about $80 to fill our tank (anticipate a tankful each way). I’m overestimating on purpose. We aim to stay in the city, so we can walk everywhere once we get there. I’m hoping to get free accommodation thanks to a friend, and should find out today.)

  • Goals for 2011

    I’m biting the bullet and posting these, subject to later change:

    ONGOING

    • Save 40 per cent of income.
    • Keep eating out to $160 a month.
    • Text one friend a week.
    • Learn to confidently use full manual settings on my dSLR.
    • Read 100 books (I’ve set up a challenge on Goodreads; I know at the pace I read I can easily make this if I keep up momentum. But if I don’t I won’t be too sad.)
    • Continue running at least once a week, and run a 10k

    ONE OFFS (all travel related)

    • Score a travel writing assignment.
    • Take a trip somewhere warm on my birthday (thinking Vanuatu, Niue or similar).
    • Take a big trip later in the year.

    I’m also adding to this a few smaller things I really need to get done in the next couple of months (yep, that’s how lazily I roll):

    • Take coats to drycleaners
    • Arrange dentist appointments
    • Book passports

    And you may have seen my other post on the non-measurable things I want to implement more of, too.

    Even if circumstances affect my travel goals and my savings goals, I still feel better for finally having posted this!

  • Non-measurable goals (aka, not so SMART)

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    It doesn’t feel that long ago I blogged about not knowing what goals to set.

    Last year was very much about making progress. Getting a firm footing financially and career wise. Sure, there was running and cooking and baking in there, but they were very much secondary concerns.

    I’m still cooking up concrete goals to replace my 2010 goals (which I’m pleased to say went swimmingly now that our anniversary is over) and am debating whether to post them now and edit them later, for reasons that will also be revealed later, but I’ve also realised something.

    This year I want to focus more on balance. You know how my tagline reads “Just trying to get some balance, and get ahead”? Yeah, it’s time to pay more attention to the former. And these are things I can’t measure.

    Music

    First, I want to rediscover my love of music. It was such a huge part of my life in my teens. When I could spend hours literally just lying back listening to a CD. When I had the radio on day and night, and literally would put on a playlist fo fall asleep to. When, instead of blogging, I wrote songs and book chapters. Then, you know, GROWN UP LIFE happened. I had other priorities and a hell of a lot less time.

    I want to devote more time to simply playing guitar. Not just learning songs, but also practising scales, strengthening exercises and other annoying riffs that must drive other people insane…and having headphones definitely extends the hours available to me, and eliminates the self-consciousness. I want to learn Incubus songs. Hendrix songs. Rage songs. Chilis songs. I wouldn’t mind finally being able to play standing up, but that’s unlikely to happen, and it’s not a priority for me. Although come to think of it, maybe I should just make it a rule that I can’t play sitting down; my posture would thank me.

    I also want to discover new bands. I feel like musically, I’m stuck in the mid-2000s, when I stopped watching music TV or listening to the radio. While my most favourite bands will most likely remain classic rockers and grungers, I always have room for new discoveries. (And they can come from anywhere – I’ll sing along to Fall Out Boy, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Paramore, Mariah Carey…)

    Recommendations, please?

    Social

    So I talked about New Year’s. But I can’t pretend it was all perfect. What is it that compels seriously decent guys to pair up with spoiled bratty girls? Which leads to me think I really need to work on expanding my social circle, or being a little less judgemental of those I hold dear. I don’t mean not being smart and selective about those in my life; sometime ago I pledged to let go of bad seeds. But even good friends sometimes make choices I don’t like and don’t agree with. Nobody is perfect. Friendships take work. I need to simply accept what is, if I truly value the relationship.

    Cooking

    Oh, we’ve come a long way. These days we rarely buy premade sauces and gone are the days of rushed dinners of sausages and chips (shudder). I try to make sure there are always veggies at dinner. I actually care about the textures and colours of our meals, when I can be bothered.

    I want to bake more, learn more about spices, make more from scratch, eat even more veggies. Unlike what seems like half the blogsophere, I’m not setting an actual goal to eat less meat, or to go/stay vegetarian. I love me some juicy steak, bacon and a bit of chicken in my stir fries. But life is too short to eat dry or fatty roasts. More and more I find myself gravitating toward the vegetable components of certain dishes, and I’m embracing that.

    I want to get closer toward making every meal a pleasure, be it through the addition of a simple thing like lemon, like cheese or even chopped nuts (which lifted a recent spaghetti diner OUT OF THIS WORLD). Plus, if I can get my A into G, I might even post food pics from time to time.

    So, there you have it. These are the unmeasurable pleasures I want to make more of, for a happier, healthier, more-rounded me this year.

  • Going forward

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    (I’ve just put up a new page, Top Posts, for new and semi-new readers.)

    Folks, it’s time to set some goals for 2011.

    This blog has always been a work in progress. Unless you’re totally dedicated and have combed my archives Red-style, you probably missed much of its evolution – from totally random reflections and non-hyperlinked links, through flatmate rants and uni woes, through my rather dull stint of weekly spending logs, to the mix you see today. I’d sort of hoped by now I would have figured out a really reflective blog name, got my own domain…basically be a bit further along this blogging journey. Alas, I’ve failed to come up with something better to replace this holding name (although I guess it’s marginally better than the first version, A Hotchpotch of Ramblings – that’s what you get when you start a blog on the spur of the moment one slow evening at work) and a revamp is not on the horizon. Guess you’re stuck with things as they are.

    Luckily, blogging about my goals in 2010 has definitely helped me keep them at the forefront of my mind, and keep me accountable: much more than any vision board ever could

    Which is why it really bugs me that I’m at a bit of a loss as to goal setting for next year. Initially I thought the financial ones were easy, but I may or may not be making a big change soon…so I can’t even set a savings goal yet.

    Travel-wise, I’m angling to go overseas for my birthday, and hopefully take a big trip towards the end of the year…or possibly in 2012. I also want to score a travel writing assignment.

    But beyond that, I’m stuck.

    I don’t want to set goals like an arbitrary number of books to read, songs to learn, servings of fruit/veg a day. Maybe monthly challenges – like the clothing challenge I did earlier this year – are the way to go.

    What goals are you setting for 2011??

  • 2010 in review

    This year, I really started to get my money under control.

    • I knew my free overdraft had an expiration date on it, so stopped using it as a fallback and started keeping a cushion in my account.
    • I joined Kiwisaver and started contributing 4 per cent.
    • I worked full time, started saving consistently and supported the household when T was out of work for a few months.
    • I met my goal of saving $10,000 and started tracking my net worth.
    • And I earned $5500 in extra income.

    I also started running (semi) regularly and am approximately 187342 times fitter than I was in January, when I couldn’t even run for five minutes.

    I baked more things than I have ever baked cumulatively in my life to date.

    I am a marginally better cook – sometimes I even make up dishes, and am more confident at ‘winging it’. I’ll even attempt cooking a steak unsupervised if the situation calls for it. But I take no responsibility for the end result.

    I eat much better and eat a wider variety of things: this year I discovered veggies new and old that I actually like (albeit some in very small amounts). I’m looking at ya eggplant, carrots, pumpkin, radish, fennel, kumara, spinach, and silverbeet – rather than just the potatoes, beans and cauliflower I ate growing up.

    Oh, and I’ve vastly increased my knowledge of geography thanks to Sporcle – which only seems appropriate for a wannabe traveller.

    What have you accomplished this year?

  • November goal checkin

    Save 20 per cent of my income. Clocked in at 44 per cent plus extra income which I put straight toward the travel fund (as yet untallied). Of course, savings took a big dent with the new car purchase, but the awesome thing is, my net worth didn’t decrease all that much. As for my November goal of living on a $2500 budget and tracking EVERYTHING including T’s spending, I’ll have an update in the next week or so.

    Try one new (to me) dinner recipe each week. Managed three dinner recipes, plus another three baking recipes. Special shoutout to the buckeyes which were a huge hit and made far more than anticipated!

    Run once a week. I hit my stride with three runs per week, but have been busier lately and only managing one or two. On the plus side, those are much longer runs, closer to 10k than 2.

    Donate to charity. I’d been wanting to donate to Movember, but nobody I knew was taking part…until a colleague set up a donation page for him and his mates and tweeted about it. Ah, social media.

    ** Don’t forget to enter my Christmas giveaway, if you haven’t already! **

  • October goal checkin

    So my brilliant idea to get up an hour early 3 days a week to get more stuff done? Huh. A 50 per cent pass rate is a pass, right? It was good when I managed it. Not so good otherwise, like post-Metallica, in the throes of a sudden and random spring bug, or just general fatigue that kept me in bed.

    Sadly, I lost my other October financial info, so my plan to track both mine and T’s accounts like a bounty hunter was derailed. But! I did keep careful track of my savings – I loftily aimed for 50 per cent and managed a respectable 44 per cent.

    Also, I hit my big goal of $10k in the bank. Woooo!

    I really need to keep better track of my cooking. I can’t even remember what we ate three days ago, but I do recall whipping up (throwing together) a rather tasty baked potato/eggplant bake. So that was at least one new dish.

    I’m feeling on track to regaining my teenage fitness levels. Not only did I run every week, some weeks I went twice! (Perhaps even three times this week? I’m not sure; they all blur together).

    Finally, I donated to charity. Not just the $10, mind you! I also donated some old clothing – handily enough, there’s a clothing bin for cancer fundraising outside the primary school around the corner from my house.

    How are your goals coming along?

  • September goal checkin

    Save 20 per cent of my income. Ugh, I think I did. I hope I did. And to be honest, I can’t be arsed checking. But I’ll make up for it by keeping an eagle eye on our finances in October.

    Try one new (to me) dinner recipe each week. Roast pork with red potatoes and cauliflower. Tom Yum soup. Salad – lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, boiled egg, feta. White chicken chili. Except the last one (which was actually for lunch) none of these really count as new recipes – seeing as I didn’t work to any – but they were all new to me.

    I’m kind of out of recipes. Anyone like to recommend some? Also, although I’m far from pro, I’m starting to dislike working from a strict recipe. Perhaps if you could even point me in the direction of interesting new (but not too complex) ideas; otherwise, I’m likely to modify them as I see fit.

    Run once a week. WIN! For the first time in…however many miserable wet months we’ve had? I even went twice this week. Something is going on…

    Donate to charity. Yep – donated to two separate charities in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch quake, before they centralised all appeals into the one. Don’t know how far my $20 will go, but hopefully it will help someone.