Saturday, January 18, 2014

The New Year's Resolutions for 2014

I chuckle a little bit when I think about how I'm trying to approach 2014 differently from how I approached 2013. My chief goal in 2013 was to lose weight, and that project when remarkably well. I now live in fear of putting it back on, though, and I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll likely spend the rest of my life fighting that fight. My goals in 2014 seem a little bit less noble. They're also more focused. Here's what I'm up to. 

I'm done with debit cards. Done. Finished. The Target calamity with debit cards scared me straight. I'm no longer interested in putting out there the risk that someone will directly get to my money. I'm conscious of how my shift to using credit rather than debit will force the businesses with which I deal to bear a greater transaction cost with me, but we're still living in something of a Wild West when it comes to credit practices in this nation (Clark Howard had an interesting comment on U.S. standards vs. European . . . it's a little stunning how loose we are). Now the game for me is to find the credit card that offers the most logical rewards. 

I'm also done fretting small purchases. I listened to a Freakonomics podcast early in the fall that was a bit revolutionary for me. So revolutionary, I actually tripped when I heard it (this was the last time I listened to a podcast rather than music while running). Steven Levitt shared his practice of simply not worrying about items below a certain price point. If something will make life better at that moment, and the cost is less than x amount of money, just buy it. I'm thinking that my price point is $30. There are some nights where the hectic pace of life makes it tough to get dinner around. Despite how all four of us prefer to eat what we cook, and despite the savings of cooking at home, sometimes we're better off just buying from Boston Market than stoically eating a dinner at 7:05 that we insisted had to be prepared at home. I guess I'm tyring to say that in 2014 I resolve to avoid moments where I'm being penny wise and pound foolish. 

Meanwhile, I'm resolving to be less selfish at my church. For some reason, church (which I love) brings out a crankopottamus nature in me. I start to criticize the music selections. I find an excuse to not attend choir rehearsals. I fret too much at the time I'm losing. But my wife, who has the patience to hear me out on these moments of smallness, pointed out something worthwhile to me, that my son is now old enough to take cues from me about that peripheral stuff in church life. It woke me up. I need to suppress my crankopottamus urgings on Sundays, and get out the door a few minutes earlier too. 

These goals of mine for 2014 aren't earth-shattering, and when stacked next to losing 50 pounds last year probably won't do as much to enhance my long-run prospects of a healthy, happy life. But it would be nice if I did a better job managing the small stuff so it stays small in 2014. 

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