2016 Goals: February Update

GOALS FOR 2016

  1. CMSRN credential
    1. No further progress to report on this one; I’m slackin’ and need to pick it up if I’m going to get through this goal this year.  I’ve had to work on yearly/ongoing training through work this month so, while I haven’t been working on this certification, I have been furthering my nursing knowledge.  I’ll call that a win for now at least.
  2. Pay off at least $20,000 of debt.
    1. Paid off another $2,500 this month!!!  $4,733 (24%) of $20,000 goal achieved!  I’m predicting March will be an even better month because I’m picking up some overtime in my next few paychecks.  Keeping our current pace, we are on track to pay off about $29k this year…but of course more will always be welcome 🙂
  3. Weight loss:  weigh 200 pounds by the end of February and 185 by the end of April – monitoring with weekly weigh-ins
    1. Weekly weigh-ins completed:  as of today, 3/1, I now weigh 195.4 pounds!  Total loss of 19 pounds and 5 inches off my gut (42 inch waist down to 37!!!)  Part A of the goal, under 200 by the end of February (I weighed 197.6 pounds last week, the last Tuesday of the month), is a success!  Our change in food habits continues without concerns and I foresee things continuing as they currently are.
  4. Increased meal planning with eMeals
    1. While we have slacked off a bit in advance planning of our meals, we continue to do well with food variety and maintaining increased consumption of fruits and veggies.  We continue to eat minimal processed foods and, in fact, are even working on changing the cheese we eat.  My wife read about the fact that most cheese (and some other foods) you find in the supermarket contains “powdered cellulose”, which turns out to be WOOD PULP!  8-|  We looked and it turns out that every cheese in our fridge contains the stuff; to get away from this non-food food additive, we placed an order (scheduled for delivery tomorrow – review to come!) from the Wisconsin Cheese Mart website and are looking forward to furthering our resolve to minimize (and ultimately eliminate) processed foods from our lives and stomachs.
  5. Month-to-month junk food buying ban
    1. Continuing without a hitch!  My wife made two homemade chocolate cakes and a batch of brownies this month, of which I calculated WW Points and divvied up the servings to avoid overeating…too badly, anyway. 🙂  Thankfully, my wife is an incredible baker so we shared the majority of these goodies with my coworkers, who had no trouble helping me out.  The ban continues!!!
  6. Decreased soda :  $24 = 3 cases/month
    1. While still doing better than prior to starting this, this month was not as good as January.  Will continue moderating consumption but, all-in-all, doing well.
  7. Using our treadmill for at least 20 minutes per day when I am off work
    1. This I have been very bad with.  Our crazy-busy evenings with our kiddo typically result in my wife and I eating supper late, with me cooking while my wife gets our son into bed.  This had been the time I was allotting for the treadmill but it just hasn’t been happening as planned.  This area needs work but, thankfully, I remain on track with my weight loss goals.
  8. Improved planning and crop yield from the garden
    1. Still snowy and too cold to be doing anything with the garden right now.  Seeds were delivered earlier this month and ready to go though.
  9. Read a minimum of 5 books in 2016
    1. I’m still working on finishing James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider due to slacking off on reading in order to work on some blog posts earlier in the month and just haven’t had the extra time to finish the book.  However, I still remain on pace to complete 5 books by the end of the year.
  10. Increased personal time and appreciation for my wonderful and loving wife, who is the greatest momma I could ever hope to have for our amazing son.
    1. Unfortunately, I have no specifics for this goal progress this month.  We took a weekend trip to Rapid City on Valentine’s weekend, where my wife got her hair cut and me and my son went to The Man Salon for his first trim! 🙂  I actually paid for a hair cut and beard trim, as well…the first haircut I have paid for in nearly a decade, as my wife has been cutting my hair for years.  I just hope my wife realizes how spectacular she is and how much me and our son love the heck out of her and appreciate all that she does for us.

Interesting to note, I created an Excel spreadsheet this month to begin tracking our net worth – not sure why I hadn’t done this yet!  While I have a Personal Capital account, it’s never accurate; when it attempts to update my account data, it results in my wife being locked out of her student loan accounts.  She’s had to call multiple times to get the account unlocked so I finally gave up and took them off the Personal Capital account.

Surprisingly enough, we are a lot closer to getting into the black than I ever realized!  In fact, we should be there in the next two or three months! :-O  Until this, I had never accounted for the current Blue Book value of our Jeep as being a positive part of our assets.  While the car is obviously a depreciating asset, it is still worth something so I’ll take it!

Overall, this was another good month with regards to our 2016 goals.  I truly hope your 2016 is going awesome and that you are on track to meet and exceed your own goals for the year.  Let me know how things are going in the comments below; I’m looking forward to hearing from you! 🙂

– Frugal RN

Cognitive Dissonance

After answering yesterday’s question, think back to your decision.  Did you spend the money based on a set system of beliefs that you hold?  Or did you let loose, live free, and blow through the cash on frivolous purchases?  Do you regret any of your decisions?  What would you change?  After reflecting, how would you spend the money NOW?


That uncomfortable feeling you may be experiencing in your anterior cingulate cortex (the bright, shiny spot in the brain up above) is what is known as cognitive dissonance.  A highly influential theory in psychology proposed by Leon Festinger back in the 1950’s, cognitive dissonance describes that feeling we experience when our actions do not line up with our beliefs, ideals, and goals, prompting us to seek resolution by adapting our attitudes to be more congruent with our actions.

Every single decision we make throughout our lives has the power to create this feeling of dissonance.  We get caught up emotionally in our decisions, financial or otherwise, that has the potential to bring about later regret.  I know I’ve been guilty of rationalizing purchasing decisions without forward thinking, resulting in not only cognitive dissonance of the initial decision, but additional regret due to the impediment of our short-term and long-term financial goals.  The point is to learn from prior experiences, adapt our behaviors accordingly, and work on changing our actions that go against our core beliefs, whereby resulting in this feeling.


From a personal standpoint, I believe that how one answers this question is largely based on a couple key factors:  1) where he/she may be from a financial standpoint and 2) where he/she may fall on the continuum of maturity levels.  Someone already debt free and financially independent, who doesn’t theoretically “need” the money, has the true freedom to spend the money on anything they choose.  That freedom is what I desire and what continuously drives me forward with our goals.

Even just a few short years ago, if I were given this scenario while in college, I would’ve paid off any credit card debt we had at the time and maybe saved a few thousand bucks.  But the remainder of the cash?  I would have quite likely blown it on several vacations with my wife over summer break and nickle-and-dimed the rest on who-knows-what.  Thankfully, my maturity level has dramatically improved.

 

Here’s to making smarter financial decisions and avoiding cognitive dissonance!

-Frugal RN

 


P.S. – in case you were wondering what I’d do with $100,000 in cash…here it is:

  1. Pay off our CC debt and my wife’s student loans (about $35,000,)
  2. Add $10,000 to our emergency fund
  3. Allot $5,000 to whatever my wife and I wanted to do with it
  4. Deposit the remaining $50,000 in a Vanguard account, investing $10,000 in their total bond fund and the remaining $40,000 in the total market fund


In addition to answering the proposed questions at the top of this post, I would also love to hear what strategies you utilize, when it comes to purchase decisions (or any decision in your life,) to minimize or eliminate the possibility of experiencing cognitive dissonance.  Let me know in the comments below; maybe I can incorporate your tips into my life to help me avoid experiencing that feeling ever again, as well.  🙂

Thanks for reading and, if you you enjoy what you’re reading and haven’t already, please follow along with my family as we make our way toward debt freedom, financial independence, and early retirement.  We would love to have you along for our journey and having the privilege of hearing from and learning from you as we move forward.  Have a wonderful day!