Goals for 2005, Draft 1

Tomorrow, I'm planning to take some time to work out a real evaluation of 2004, and identify what I want to change for 2005. I'll post the results here, and hopefully use my blog to track these things a bit.

But for now, here's some first level thinking of what I want to accomplish:

  1. Continue to improve personal financial management. Work to pay down personal loans, then home equity line of credit, and build up savings. Live within a budget.
  2. Improve and create systems for managing my home.
  3. Work on follow-through - accomplishing what I plan to, making progress, finishing projects to completion.

More later.

No more crafting for Christmas

That's it. I've finally made the decision - no more crafting for Christmas.

I do this every year - get great ideas, and leave them until the last minute. And this year, I did it again.

I was going to paint a 9-drawer mini chest from Ikea for my sister, and fill it with small items for gifts. I bought all the small items, wrapped them, and bought all the supplies for the cabinet. I even assembled it. But by the night before Christmas Eve, I still hadn't painted it.

Two weeks before Christmas, I had even decided to go a different route, but I let my other sister convince me not to. Still, the day before Christmas found me shopping in Target, looking for other gifts. Which she loved, by the way.

So, I've made a decision. No more crafting for gifts! It just stresses me out when I don't get to it, and then I don't enjoy it anymore. I enjoy just shopping much more.

Down to the wire

There are only a few days left before Christmas. To be specific, there are two working days, one day off, and three evenings.

The two biggest projects I need to finish in that time are a puzzle jar, and painted cabinet. And, on a second level, any additional baking I want to do for Christmas gifts, mostly for the guys here. They won't really care (or maybe even notice) if I don't get it done, but I'm bugged that I planned to do something, bought the supplies for it, and then didn't do it.

Oh, and did I mention that my house is a mess, and I desperately need to do laundry?

And tonight I'm going out to dinner with a Young Life girl, and there are hard conversations ahead.

Plus, I'm wanting to spend time with family, especially Dad (who's now home from the hospital), but I can't easily work on my sister's gift if she is there.

Next year - no crafted gifts whatsoever. Things are much smoother that way.


I'm tired. Bone tired. Exhausted. Weary. Desperately wanting to crawl into a warm bed with my dog and just sleep.

But I can't. Too many obligations and even fun things scheduled over the next few days to do that.

So, I will plod along. I'll trudge through my weekly review, and do my best to use these next few days, and especially next few hours, wisely and efficiently. Last night was a good start, at least.

No heat?

The heat shut off again last night. Or, sometime during the day, I'm not exactly sure which, as I've hardly spent any time in my own house the last couple days.

After work, I stopped in just long enough to grab Dakota and head to Mom and Dad's, so I could leave Dakota there and drive with my brother to the hospital to visit Dad. The downstairs was cold, but then again, it always is, as I can't seem to be able to regulate the heat.

So, I turned off the heat, turned it back on, and through my pajamas into the dryer to warm up a bit before climbing into bed. Things were back to a normal temperature this morning.

It's becoming more and more clear that I need to hire a professional. And that's a lot of money.


Last night, I finally replaced my Sony Clie, purchased open-box a year and a half ago. Other than normal wear-and-tear, the thing couldn't seem to hold a charge any longer, plus had an annoying habit of randomly shutting off every time I tried to sync it to my computer. So, after standing in several lines and getting a bit of a run-around, I got store credit and purchased the least-expensive model I could to replace it - a Palm Tungsten E.

I was all prepared to spend the majority of my day today setting it up. To my surprise, it was simple and without problems - charge the unit, install (upgrade) the Palm Desktop, sync, and there you go - without the hassle of installing all the software again.

All of that means that instead of spending my time working on the tool, I can use the tool to spend time working. Period.

Thanks, Palm.

Surgery a success; busy week ahead

Well, the good news - Dad's surgery was a success. He was in a lot of pain as the epidural was wearing off, but after a while, they were able to get it under control.

Tonight I'll take my brother to visit him for a little while.

The bad news...I'm exhausted. More than anything else, I'm just overwhelmed, I think, with everything that I need to do. What I really need, is a good weekly review, to get all these things out of my inbox. But first, I need to finish charging my new Palm for the first time (replaced last night) and getting it set up.


One more thing....Dad's surgery

My dad is scheduled for knee replacement surgery tomorrow. I'll be spending most of the day at the hospital, waiting with my mom and watching him sleep off the anesthetic. Hopefully, he'll be back home next week.

Tomorrow night I need to get my PDA replaced and take care of one of Dad's last-minute details he didn't get to today.

Net worth: on the rise

I'm in the process of refinancing my home, and taking advantage of additional equity with a home equity line of credit.

The refinance itself just makes sense - lower interest rate, and slightly smaller monthly payments. The home equity line - you could argue that I'm making either a good or bad decision. On one hand, I'm consolidating existing debt (car loan, student loans) into a single loan against something of physical value. I'm also giving myself a little bit bigger cushion between the monthly income and expenses, which will allow me to build up more significant savings.

On the other hand, I realize I'm just trading one debt for another. The smaller monthly payment is due to the longer term on the line of credit (30 years vs. 4-6, depending on the loan), and on a couple loans, I'm taking an increase on the interest rate (though not as significant as you might think, since I consolidated student loans too early to take advantage of really low rates). But the breathing room, and eliminating some of the worry and stress, is worth it. Even if it costs more in the long run, I'll feel better being able to build up at least a small emergency fund.

Another concern - the home equity line of credits puts me in the position of actually having the means to go into further debt, something that hasn't been true since I paid off my last credit card and canceled all of them. Now we'll see if the discipline I've built up over the last couple years is going to work.

One really fun thing - I found out with the appraisal that my house is now worth 42% more than what I paid for it eight months ago.

The first holiday event of the season

Today, I joined my family (and several friends) for our annual pre-Christmas breakfast at a local restaurant, all decked out for Christmas. It's been a tradition for as long as I can remember, and I can remember not being allowed to go, as it was for "adults only." Usually, we go out the Saturday before Christmas, but Dad's upcoming knee replacement surgery (Monday!) made today a much better option.

Then, shopping at a local outlet mall, where I picked up most of the rest of my Christmas gifts! A small gift for a ten-year-old cousin, to add to his family's game basket, and stocking items for me and Dakota.

I bought holiday socks for the girls for the family game basket, but now I'm wondering about whether women's socks will work for an 11-year-old girl. Might have to brainstorm other ideas, there.

A good experience at the post office

I had a wonderful experience at the post office yesterday, which I think, in and of iteself, is unique.

I needed to pick up a package, and therefore go to a different post office than the closest one to work (and home). I also needed to open that package, re-package part of it, and send it back out. I had basically resigned myself to waiting in a long line twice.

Not so - the main post office here now has this 24-hour postal service machine, that allows you to mail packages yourself. You just answer the questions - weigh the package, enter the zip code of the destination, swipe a credit or debit card, and the machine prints a mailing label for you. Stick in on, throw it in the bin, and you're done. No lines, no waiting - very simple.

And, since it's in the outer area, it's accessible 24 hours a day. Big timesaver for me, and I'm sure others who work normal 9-5 schedules.

Getting started

I'm not entirely sure why I decided to start this. And honestly, I'm not entirely sure that I'll keep it up either.

I just know that there are few personal blogs that I enjoy reading, and sometimes they spark in me a desire to do something similar.

So there you go.