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Spending money on what really matters

By Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year! Are you as excited about a fresh start in 2015 as I am? 2014 was a stressful year, in many ways, and I'm looking forward to putting that all behind me and moving forward.

I love resolutions and usually make a ton of them, but this year I want to try something different and just focus on a few key changes I want to make in my life. Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking through what holds me back from doing the things I want, and the answer is most often the same – not enough time or not enough money.

For example, C. and I been talking about taking a trip to France for years, but it keeps getting postponed (for one time- or money-related reason or another). I want to make sure that we're spending money on what really matters to us, so we can do the things we most want.

So, these are the three areas I'm planning to focus on (and have some fun ideas in the works already, that I'll be sharing over time):

  • Student loans. For those of you who don't understand the student loan debt crisis, lucky you! When C. and I finally finished our schooling and moved to the Bay Area to find jobs in the midst of the 2008 economic crisis, we were making payments to 13 different lenders each month because no one would offer consolidation at that time. We've made a lot of progress since then, but need to do more. Recently, we've consolidated yet again to lower our interest rates and reduce the number of lenders we have (now at a manageable four!) through SoFi, a company I really like so far. 
  • Food. This week, I sat down and categorized all our spending for the past three months using Mint, providing proof of what I'd suspected – we are spending way too much on food. Not just going out to eat and takeout, but also groceries (we live right down the street from Whole Foods, which has become a convenient curse). I don't have a full solution mapped out yet, but we've agreed to at least plan ahead and keep more items on hand to make quick dinners when we're not cooking Blue Apron meals. Mint also allows you to set a budgeted amount for a specific category, which you can check at any time with their mobile app, and shows your spending using colorful pie charts. For someone like me who loves metrics and visuals, it's fantastic.
  • Clothing/fun spending. As part of a married couple, I know too well that which expenses to keep separate and which to merge is a complicated and never-ending discussion and that everyone needs to find a system that works for them. While C. and I need to tackle student loans and food together, this is an area where I wanted to focus myself. I love shopping but need to do a better job of making sure that when I buy something, it's really worth it to me. I've been hearing a lot about capsule wardrobes lately, so that's one idea I may be exploring and sharing with you soon!
What about you – what are your New Year's resolutions? What really matters to you? And if you have any tips to help me with mine, please share!


  1. One of my favorites and a huge inspiration lately is Jess Lively (I'm sure you've heard me talk about her a lot), and she offers a "With Intention" guide that lists her top 5 books, podcasts, blog posts, etc. It is designed to help you live more intentionally, which sounds like it will help you be successful with your resolutions :) I plan to read the books this years. You can get it here: https://my.leadpages.net/leadbox/12472b173f72a2%3A14fb8e88eb46dc/5724160613416960/

    1. Thanks, Audrey! I already added Jess Lively to my list on Bloglovin, and listened to the capsule wardrobe podcast (and a few others). I'll check out the intention guide, too – sounds perfect!

  2. I use Mint a lot. I agree it's great! No specific New Years resolutions for me, but I do use it as a time to just pull everything together. Pick up the remnants of pushes toward self-improvement from the previous year and reimplement them with new gusto. Happy New Year!

    1. That's a good point, Katie – resolutions don't have to be new things, so sometimes reframing what you're working on is just exactly what you need. See you soon!