Coming off of two crazy busy months with entirely too much work, I am looking to take charge of my finances and fitness by setting some May goals.
For the past two years, I have set two monthly goals, each and every month. Errr, well, I missed March and April. I try to set one fitness goal and one financial goal. This helps keep my natural lazy tendencies at bay and stay motivated to build health and wealth.
I have mentioned several times in various blog articles, that my career as a pediatric nurse means winters are my time to hustle. With increased patient volumes during flu season the demand for nurses skyrockets. To meet the demand, hospitals increase the number of staff leading to an abundance of overtime shifts. From January to March, my days off are very limited.
With much of the business of winter behind me, it is time to get back to basics and set a few goals for May.
Expense Tracking Experiment
In April, our family saved 53.9% of our gross income. So where did the 46.1% of our income that we spent go? I don’t know….well I have a general idea but I couldn’t tell you exact numbers.
Oddly with as far as we have progressed down the path to financial freedom, we have done so without obsessively tracking expenses or budgets. For May that is about to change.
With my new found love of spreadsheets, I plan to create an expense tracker and more closely see where our spending goes. I will block 5-10 minutes from my mornings to update my expense tracker spreadsheet and create a habit of becoming better connected with where our money is going.
Why expense tracking is important
- your emergency fund is based on 3-6 months of expenses.
- expense tracking is a useful tool to cut meaningless spending.
Over the years our expenses have grown. Not only from lifestyle creep but also from inflation. Our mortgage has increased due to increased property taxes and our grocery budget has increased due to teenage boys and food inflation. These are just a couple of the examples of how our life has become more expensive and our emergency fund may be out of date.
By getting a clearer understanding of our monthly expenses, I will know if it is time to increase what we hold in an emergency fund.
10 No-Spend Days
Several months ago, way back in January, I set a 10-day no-spend goal and came up short. Welp, we hit 9 days, and I’m going to give this one another try. As it turns out, a 10-day no-spend challenge was damn hard.
Related: No Spend Days Done 2 Ways
Why is this challenge so hard? Mostly because of how I structure the rules for myself. Simply put, by my own volition, I can not spend any money on a no-spend day. No quick trip to the store, no drink at Starbucks, and no eating out because we don’t feel like cooking. NO, NO, NO. To string together 10 of these days in a month takes some planning and that is something I suck at.
A no-spend challenge forces you to get outside of your comfy routine. Our meal planning and grocery shopping behaviors are altered for the better during one of these challenges and somewhere along the way it turns into a game of how many days can we avoid spending money in a month. If you have never tried no-spend days you should give them a shot.
In 2018, I amassed a whopping 5,234,100 steps, exceeding A 5-million-step-goal gauntlet thrown down by Angela, from the blog, Tread Lightly Retire Early. We engaged in a friendly step challenge for much of the year, pushing ourselves when we didn’t necessarily feel like being active.
The funny thing about hitting a step goal such as 5 million steps is, I don’t think I can be comfortable with myself underperforming last years total. It’s like being awesome once and then giving up. It certainly doesn’t fit with my personal mantra of continual improvement.
Why count steps? I find steps are easy to track. My iWatch converts various activities, from running to biking into steps. Tracking this one metric gives me a good idea of my overall fitness level.
Looking at my steps thus far in 2019, I have averaged a lackluster 13,551. At this pace, I would fall short of 5 million steps for 2019. To kick things up a notch, I am setting a step goal for May of 450,000 steps. I need to average 14,516 steps per day. This is a stretch for me but I think I can muster adding 1,000 steps per day to my average.
There they are, my May goals. Expense tracking, 10 no-spend days and 450,000 steps. These goals should shake me out of my winter stupor and start the transition into the more active spring and summer months.
What are your goals for May? I would love to hear your big plans for the coming month. If you have questions about my goals or want to share your goals, head over to The Smart FI Facebook Group where I currently have a discussion started.