Saturday, January 6, 2018

Yearly Goals: 2018

You know, I'm not sure why, but the "year in review" post and this post are the hardest posts I have to write all year.  It's really hard to close out the previous year and then think ahead to what I need, or want, to accomplish in the coming year.  A year seems like such a HUGE amount of time when it stretches before you and then you blink and it's gone.  Sometimes it's a really painful blink, like getting sand thrown into your eye by a really nasty wind and you're trying to blink around it, but it does seem to pass in a blink none the less.  Looking toward the year ahead, for me, is always the struggle of battling a keen sense of optimism and doom at the same time.  I want to plan such lofty things, but know that unless I'm realistic about what I want to get done, it'll all be doomed for failure.  And so I sit, staring at a wall with my mind running through all the things I'd wish would happen ("Get Alvah to talk this year, somehow"), to things that need to get done ("get new truck"), to things that I feel like I can realistically accomplish if things work out on my side.

So, let's get this mental plate spinning under way, shall we?  And we shall see in a year's time how realistic vs optimistic I was *laugh*.

When it comes to last year's goals, I feel like I did pretty decent overall.  I did, indeed, try really hard to smile more and spend less (and really, just smile more), the self sufficiency thing was worth a shot, but failed in the outcome (garden did get expanded, but got wiped out, chickens had to be rehomed, etc).  I never did get to using my pressure canner all year round, mainly because I invested in a stove top pressure cooker and anytime I needed something that I would have pressure canned, I just had to throw it into my pressure cooker and had it in no time flat and didn't need to babysit a pressure canner for an hour or more.  Now that I have an electric pressure cooker, I'm really looking forward to using it more in the coming year to help cut down time on meal prep items like beans.  I baked more, I am proud to say, and actually find I really do enjoy doing it more than I had in the past and I did, indeed, cherish time with my kids and focus more on hearth and home last year.  And I am really happy I did as I think it not only benefited me a lot more, but I think it benefited the kids as well and helped lead to some good memories for them in the future.  I mean right now the son is having a blast eating the remains of the gingerbread house.  Who knew he'd like gingerbread cookies???

And so, what about the goals for this year?

Well, allow me to welcome you to

Scrimp and Save Year on "The Make Do Homemaker"

Or, sub-heading, "Get Thyself Organized, Dear Erika"

This is the year, I am determined, that the savings account is going to go from 0 to something.  I don't know what "something" is at this point, but darned it, I'm determined that there has to be places that I can save money and start putting it away to start SOME KIND of emergency fund again.  I haven't seen a nice positive balance in a savings account in about five years, so to have a cushion where I'm not panicking over any life event hitting would be such a blessing.

I have to say that this is the first year in a long time that I'm not dreading the year right out of the box.  I'm not really sure why, maybe because the dental bills are finally nearing their end (I hope.  Here's praying for a good tax return!), but I am optimistic about how the year is going to go.  I hope it's well placed optimism.

The first thing I decided to do this year is actually keep my books and keep them current.  I've gotten kind of lazy the last few years due to the wonder that is being able to look up your bank account online, so I could keep track of the balance in the account that way.  Now that I really want to put my nose to the grind stone and start saving pennies, keeping an actual set of household accounting books and reconciling things constantly will help both my husband and I to stay accountable for our spending.  My husband might get tired of the nearly daily financial updates, but I think this is going to be the best way to start snowballing some savings into place.

1.  Organize Time and Finances

I am kind of tired of feeling rushed all of the time, so I'm hoping this year to get to managing time better, along with finances.  One way I decided to do this was to start a home management system.  Part of it I found online at DIY Home Sweet Home and printed the sheets off that I thought would come in handy in the coming year and then the other parts I ordered from Amazon with part of the gift cards my family sent us for Christmas.  I ordered this system (associate link) and I ordered a weekly menu plan with an incorporated grocery list (also an associate link).  I know I could have printed those off as well, but when it came to printing off 52 pages for the menu plan alone...I decided 5.00 was more than worth saving a bunch of printer ink (that stuff ain't cheap!) and with the budget binder system, I thought I'd give a pre-printed one a shot that I could then supplement with home printed materials.  I've historically had a hard time with a huge binder system working for me, so I'm curious to see if I finally have enough discipline to make it all work this year.  Here's hoping!

So, let the saving of nickels and dimes to victory begin!  Well, after Monday since that's when the rest of my stuff is supposed to be in *laugh*.

2.  Bake yet more, but with healthier options in mind.

I really need to start incorporating more whole grains into our diet around here.  I have a white bread loving daughter and son and I need to work on them to see if I can get them to start eating some healthier options.  So, baking more creatively is going to be on the agenda and I ordered a Pullman pan to help, hopefully, create my own "store bought bread" type of effect in the hopes that the kids will be more willing to eat the home made bread put in front of them (especially Alvah).

3.  Eat healthier period.

This is where reading Graham Kerr has proven to be a real God send as he has a lot of advice on how to change your diet for the better without having a family completely revolt on you.  I'm hoping to use his tips and tricks to get my husband more on board with eating healthier options when it comes to food as we're supposed to lower his cholesterol and things this year and I could certainly use a healthier diet for the sake of my health.  I'm determined that I can do this and make the food taste good (so far I've struck out a bit, but I'm working on it as I try recipes I know I'll find ones that work and taste good).  I know I'm up to the challenge.  The biggest concern is doing so carefully for not only the sake of the willingness of the participants but also to keep it within our grocery budget.

4.  Speaking of the Grocery budget...

Now that my husband is on a two week pay cycle, I'm hoping to just lump two weeks together at a time for grocery shopping, so I'll be working on 100.00 every two weeks for a grocery budget instead of 50.00 per week.  Same difference really, but I'm hoping that I can maybe cut down on trips to the grocery store and just go two weeks at a time.  If I can get menu plans dialed in right and do my grocery shopping accordingly, I really do think I can make it work pretty well.  It's definitely a new way of thinking when switching from a variable income mind to a "we get paid every two weeks" mindset, but I know I can finally get this thing tackled. 

One thing that I'm thinking I might be able to do is start to get more room in the freezers freed up since I won't have to stock up so much when meat is super cheap.  Yes, I will still stock up when things are on sale, for SURE, but I don't have that need to have like a year's worth of meat in the freezers at a time now.  I still believe that food storage is important, don't get me wrong, but I don't have to go nuts when doing it now and I think it's time to start scaling back a bit.  If I can free up room in the freezers by summer I'm hoping to have room in them to store more produce.  Which leads to goal five...

5.  Hit the U-Pick Farm more this summer.

Hopefully I can budget for this, but after this last summer I really need to be careful with what I plant in the garden and yard this summer or the moose will just wipe it all out.  Once moose know there is food somewhere, they come back.  I am hoping to be able to afford some garden soil to fill up some Rubbermaid totes a bit and plant up on my upstairs deck this summer just to keep it up and out of the way of the moose and I do plan on planting potatoes (since most animals will leave those alone since the plants are toxic), bush beans, lettuce and chard or kale, but things like cabbages and peas just aren't in the cards this year as they are moose magnets, at least in the garden.

If container gardening doesn't work well, I'm figuring I will have to hit the U-Pick farm for things like cabbage and other vegetables.  So, I will hopefully be working picking vegetables into my normal weekly grocery budget this summer and will have room in the freezers to store them.

6.  Get Home Maintenance Projects Done

We got a quote for redoing our gutters, so I'm hoping to save up the 1600.00 to get those done this summer.  We also need to get our sewer pumped this summer.  Those are my two big goals to get done.  Past that hopefully we can pay for new doors if we get dividends this year (I still have doubts the way our corrupt legislature is going).

7.   Continue to Smile and Roll with the Punches

This is just a goal to keep a positive mindset, no matter what happens.  Things can only get done when you believe they can get done, so keeping on target and positive in my mindset is definitely an important goal.

8.  Continue to Focus on Family and Home

I am going to continue to work on improving my home, both in a physical and mental sense.  It really did benefit me last year to know that I could improve my home with little to no money invested in projects and spending time with my kids and husband.  So, I'm hoping to continue that this year.  We're hoping to play more board games, spend more time playing outside, hopefully find time and money to do some fun things around the state this summer and stuff.  Here's hoping things work out so we can make that happen :).

This also means trying my best to sew more around here and things.  I learn a bit more every year, so here's hoping I can continue to improve skill-wise.

And the most important goal I have...

9.  Always Move Forward.  No Matter What.

As my grandfather used to say, "Just keep moving forward.  Even if you fall on your face, at least you are falling forward.  Dust yourself off and keep going."

Happy New Year, everyone!  May it go well for us all!


  1. It sounds doable to me. I think the positive attitude is number one! I’m rooting for you and your family! You got this!

  2. I'm sure this was a hard post to write! Things will be fine! Good luck with your goals.

  3. One foot in front of the other and a bit at a time. You did amazing with what life threw at you this year. Take care.

  4. I think you did great last years considering how many trials you faced. Up and forward!!!

    Your goals for the year are great ones we should all try to strive for. You have this - you are a great example of perserverance and strength.

    I am trying to make this the year of organization and simpler living, thus being happier.
    Have a fantastic week.

  5. We've had a few hard years. One of my favorite things anyone gave me to encourage me was a set of towels my sister brought me from Disneyland. They said, "Just keep swimming," from the movie, Finding Nemo. It's so true. This Christmas was much better than last year--and so it goes. Financially, we are hanging in there, I think we've adjusted to the lower just let's hope nothing major breaks....It's time for us to get our savings brought up a little higher again...