It’s a spectacularly beautiful New Year’s Day here. The sun is shining bright, birds are singing, the rose bush outside the office window is in bloom. Very shortly now, Cassie the Corgi and I will head out for a nice long idle stroll.
I’ve been so happy (and at times so harassed) at getting free of the Great Desert University, I haven’t put much thought into the future. I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions—a resolution being something to be made and soon forgotten. General goals are good, but they need to be realistic and doable. Over at Bargaineering, Jim suggests using the SMART guidelines to set 2010 goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely).
That’s highly practical where financial goals are concerned. For my taste, it’s a bit too quantitative: the things I’d like to accomplish this year have to do more to do with quality of life than with numbers. After all, we build our financial lives—working and saving and paying off debt—so we can improve the quality of our lives. IMHO, that’s what money is all about.
So, though I have a few SMARTable yearnings, I also have a few that are softer and less measurable.
First, the SMART goals:
♦ Support retirement with Social Security and part-time teaching, so as to delay drawing down 4 percent from savings for at least a year, possibly longer.
♦ Generate enough blogging and freelance income through the S-corporation to pay for computers hardware and software, high-speed internet, blog consultancy, membership in professional organizations, and other business-related blandishments. I expect Funny about Money and the Copyeditor’s Desk to generate about $4,800 without my having to work very hard at it and hope to make eight to ten grand in 2010. Even at the low end, which will come about simply from proofreading detective novels (!) and daily blogging, it will cover basic computer and office costs.
♦ Simplify my financial life. Get rid of the various “piggybank” accounts and run all my personal bookkeeping through three credit union accounts: checking, saving, and one self-escrow money market account holding cash to cover property tax, homeowner’s insurance, and car insurance.
♦ Figure out a way to pay down principal on the investment house, or at least refinance to get rid of the 30/15 terms.
Now for the more interesting goal, one that can’t be quantified by any SMART guidelines:
♦ Get a life. Shake off the inertia that has come with sixteen years of treadmill-trudging and build a new and more interesting life. Possible strategies:
• Volunteer at places where I wouldn’t resent spending time. The botanical garden and the Phoenix Art Museum come to mind.
• Take courses in voice and music theory at the community college, so I can join more advanced choirs.
• Learn silversmithing. Learn how to make some of the jewelry designs that float at the edges of my consciousness, and then find out how to market them through galleries and shops.
• Take up painting again. See if I’m still as good as I was when I was 22. Pursue courses in art and design at the community college.
• Get back into hiking and bicycling.
• Create at least one and probably two books based on FaM.
• Write one of those detective novels!
That’s it. Nothing very ambitious. But it represents a whole new world for me. What’s your plan?
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!
The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I