Tuesday 28 December 2010

Alone: My New Year's Resolution

I have an on-going joke about resolving to do something in the New Year.

Somebody: So, what's your resolution for the coming year?

Me: I'm going to quit smoking.

Somebody [frowning with a perplexed look]: Ah... but I thought you didn't smoke?

Me: I don't but I always like to start with something easy then work my way up to the more difficult.

How many times just before the clock strikes midnight have I said to myself under my breath that I promise to do such and such a thing? Has it worked? In reflecting back on these moments, I can't say one way or another whether I've made a promise I've kept or whether I've even made a promise which was as specific as something like quitting to smoke. I think that generally these promises have been of a more vague nature like "be happier", "try harder", or "save more money". Okay, I suppose "save more money" could actually be quantified so if I put together a spreadsheet and start tracking this in the coming year, maybe I can come back at the end of the next year with some perceptible pecuniary proof of my promise being kept. - Sorry, I couldn't think of a "p" version of "being kept" to keep my alliteration going for five P's; I'll have to be content with four.

The other two resolutions, "be happier" and "try harder" are vague, unquantifiable, the type of promise which may be construed as not really being a promise. They are more of the warm and fuzzy type of thing one says to make everybody feel good, a politically correct thing to say in company which at the end of the day, do not necessarily translate into anything concrete. You can't take that one to the bank.

As I look through some articles penned by various journalists, most of them of an amusing slant on the end of the year tradition, I find this comical take by one lady who talks cynically of her own resolutions by saying that most are broken by day three and discarded by day seven. I suppose that if we start with something vague like "be happier", this is very true but what about "save more money"?

The Wealthy Barber
I recently reviewed this book and would remind everybody that one resolution you should make and keep for the New Year would be reading that book and getting your financial house in order. This isn't just for the coming year; this should be for the rest of your life. And one thing which is attractive about this resolution is that it is quantifiable; it is something which you will be able to sum up and at the end of the year you will have a "total" on which you can reflect.

In that article, I talked about creating a spreadsheet for yourself where you could track your finances. For me, I have a simple sheet divided into two sections: my income and my expenses. Of course, the section on income is simple: it is merely my pay check deposited in my bank account every two weeks. However I have the sheet set up in columns with the headings of the columns marked with the date of the event in question. Consequently, I have columns corresponding to the deposit of my pay so I know exactly on what date I get my moo-la.

The bigger section is my expenses and once again I have columns showing the date of an expense. By glancing at the columns, I can easily see the dates of when any expense is due whether it is a mortgage payment or paying off my VISA. The most important aspect of doing this is that I can see what's coming up in the near future. If I have to pay off my VISA this coming Monday and I can see the cost is $400, I know that I should be judicious in what I spend for the rest of the week and the weekend knowing that I have to have $400 next Monday. Without this overview, I'm not sure how I could keep track of my cash flow and how I could respect my obligations.

I ofttimes read in the newspapers about how many can't seem to control their finances and find themselves in debt especially debt on their credit card. Without some sort of means of tracking my finances, I assume I'd have my own situation messed up and I could even find myself borrowing on my credit card. Actually, I'm not sure calling it "borrowing on your credit card" is an accurate description. I believe people just don't have enough at the end of the month to pay off the entire balance and consequently just make the minimum payment. Okay, that sort of gets you into the next month but has anybody who does this checked at the rate of interest? It's astronomical! Avoid that like the plague.

Enough preaching
Okay, I started off wanting to say something amusing about resolutions but then got off on a bit of a tangent about something practical in which I strongly believe. Money may be the root of all evil but it is certainly a nice thing to have on a rainy day or any day for that matter. Ha!

So for you, what else? Go on a diet? Finish that project? Quit smoking? All are laudable resolutions and I wish you the best of luck in getting past day number three. Just don't forget reading The Wealthy Barber. That is a resolution you can take with you to the bank.

Final Word
This year, I'm going to hold a Monty Python New Year, meaning "And now for something completely different." I've decided to ring in the New Year by myself. I've decided to spend this final time of the year by myself to reflect on both the past year and the coming year in some vain attempt of figuring out all the great issues of cosmic importance concerning my place in the universe. - Wow, now is that profound or what? - I'll have my thumbed copy of the Wealthy Barber open for consultation as I work through my spreadsheet playing "What if?" scenarios to try and figure out either how destitute I'll be when I retire or whether I can afford gold leaf on my bathroom fixtures. Either way, I'll keep a window cracked so I can listen for anybody in the neighbourhood yelling "Happy New Year!" out their window at the stroke of midnight.

In returning to my opening and my "easy" resolution, I will leave you with one final question for this end of the year extravaganza:

Anybody got a light?

Some suggested resolutions
A few items of interest from my blog you may want to consider for the coming year's "promises to self".

Death-defying feat: Parachuting: If God had meant me to...
I didn't realise how influential I am. This past October 8, I did a tandem parachute jump and shared my pictures afterwards with my colleagues at work. One of them just told me he has "resolved" to bestow a gift on his daughter for her birthday this spring which will involve the two of them doing a skydive at the same club I visited. Ah, a brave soul indeed!

Exotic Vacation: Egypt
How about a vacation in someplace you've never been before? My wife arranged for us to spend 2 weeks in the land of the pharaohs and I can qualify this as one of the most fabulous trips I've ever taken.

Unusual activity: Sedona: Hot Air Ballooning
You don't have to go all the way to Sedona to do this but believe me, it is a very nice part of the United States to visit. I talk about taking my very first trip in a hot air balloon and it is quite the experience. Check out some of my links; you can do this near to Toronto.

Something for Couples: Ballroom Dancing: A metaphor for men and women?
I talk about my wife and me taking ballroom dance lessons. One, two, three, cha-cha-cha. Yes, how about something for both you and your partner?


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