Monday, May 21, 2007

66 Goals in 1001 Days

This post ties in with the importance of goal setting and though it doesn't necessarily tie to personal finance, I think these exercises are good for personal development. This can help with finances in the long run.

I think it would give me a great sense of accomplishment to follow along the lines of some other sites such as The Simple Dollar and make the following list of goals I would like to achieve in the next 1001 days (2.75 years). The stipulations of the list are as follows from Triplux:

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days. [I've worked on this for a week and came up with 60 or so that is what I am using. It will still give me a sense of accomplishment and I can add more goals later on.]

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as new year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Some common goal setting tips:
1. Be decisive. Know exactly what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it.

2. Stay Focussed. Any goal requires sustained focus from beginning to end. Constantly evaluate your progress.

3. Welcome Failure. Frequently, very little is learned from a venture that did not experience failure in some form. Failure presents the opportunity to learn and makes the success more worthy.

4. Write down your goals. It clarifies your thinking and reinforces your commitment.

5. Keep your goals in sight. Review them frequently, and ensure that they are always at the forefront of your thinking.

And thus, my list* (in no particular order) that I hope to have done by February 15, 2010:

1. Read the complete archive of The Simple Dollar Website DONE
2. Obtain my Bachelor of Education Degree DONE
3. Sort through my comic books and see which ones can get the boot DONE
4. Read the complete works of William Shakespeare
5. Locate an apartment in Charlottetown DONE

We found a nice 2 bedroom apartment in Charlottetown on Falconwood Drive near that messed up intersection of St. Peter's Road and Belvedere Avenue by the Esso. We move in on June 1.

6. Make my own windex
7. Have $18,000 in savings
8. Measure my body fat percentage in some scientific fashion
9. Become lighter by on average 0.5 pounds a week
10. Get Married
11. Open an RRSP
12. Invest in a mutual fund
13. Buy stock in a single company
14. Liquidate unwatched DVDs DONE
15. Purchase a Paderno pot set DONE
16. Beat Halo 2
17. Beat Jet Set Radio Future
18. Get rid of my old computer DONE
19. Liquidate old books DONE
20. Make 5 homemade gifts for people for various events (birthdays, Christmas, etc...) (5/5) DONE
21. Go on 10 relaxing drives around the island with my fiance (0/10)
22. Get in touch with Jon Ben DONE
23. Walk the equivalent of Summerside to Toronto not including every day walking (0/1700 km)
24. Watch Season 1 of The Shield
25. Read the Complete Cerebus series (4/16 TPBs)
26. Talk to Sam about his history with money DONE
27. Plant and grow my own tomatoes
28. Visit Neil in Halifax DONE, but in Winnipeg
29. Vacation in Vancouver DONE in August 09
30. Play 5 games of Ultimate Frisbee (2/5)
31. Cook 12 romantic dinners for my fiance and I (0/12)
32. Become an Ebay seller
33. Open an online trader account
34. Get flowers for my fiance "just because" 5 times (1/5)
35. Paint another 2 paintings in the Bob Ross style (0/2)
36. Do 100 push-ups without taking a break (personal best: 0/100)
37. Spend 10 complete days with my fiance (0/10)
38. Help my fiance's parents clean out a room in their house
39. Write an e-mail to the Guardian about why I won't be voting in the upcoming provincial election DONE
40. Offer to babysit 3 times for my friends so they can go out (0/3)
41. Call Mastercard to see if I can get lower or no annual fees without changing cards
42. Write a letter/e-mail to the guardian explaining my thoughts on the Nitrate groundwater issue and why debating about it in the upcoming election instead of just fixing it is stupid DONE
43. Write an e-mail explaining to Diamond Publishing why Comic Foundry should be included in their catalog
44. Plant a tree
45. Attend a farmer's market and if I like what I see 30 more times (0/30)
46. Determine my personal CO2 emissions (estimate) DONE
47. Reduce those emissions by 20%
48. Convince 5 people to switch to PC Financial for their banking (0/5)
49. Go through unwanted clothing and donate it to the salvation army DONE
50. Reinforce my computer desk with a 2x4 to get the bow out of it DONE
51. Reinforce my makeshift TV stand so it doesn't get a bow in it DONE
52. Read 52 in one sitting to see if it makes much sense
53. Make 10 jars of homemade pasta sauce and give it as gifts (0/10)
54. Finish the few pieces of the puzzle for the paper based on my masters project DONE
55. Do 150 sit-ups without taking a break (personal best 0/150)
56. Wash and wax our car 4 times (0/4)
57. Clean and vacuum the car interior 4 times (0/4)
58. Check the car's air filter and replace/clean if needed 4 times (every 6 months) (0/4)
59. Calculate our net worth DONE
60. Attempt to make my own laundry detergent as per the Simple Dollar DONE
61. Have the only animal I eat be fish/seafood for 4 consecutive months
62. Have my only beverage as water for 8 consecutive months
63. Try being a vegetarian for 5 consecutive months (no animal flesh - eggs/milk/cheese OK) DONE
64. Organize our filing container DONE
65. Pay off completely the debt I expect to incur over the next 2 years from my Bachelor of Education degree
66. Sit down and work the numbers to see if my Mosaik Mastercard is worth paying $100/year for it DONE

*Bear in mind that this list was pieced together over a week or so, so some of the items are complete as of posting.

I will post updates to what I have accomplished every three months as a way to track my progress.

Monday, May 7, 2007


So I have begun to reach my goal of mastering Microsoft Money 2006 Edition in order to track our purchases and finances. It is a very cool program and it is pretty easy to get the basics set up. I currently have all our bank accounts entered and there's a nice little pie chart that shows the distribution of expenses. You can set an expense or asset with the use of categories. For example, there is a category for Hobbies/Leisure and I have two sub-categories under this right now: one for Comics and the other for Sewing (for Pam, not me). Another is Automobile with the sub-categories gasoline, maintenance, payments, etc... Categories are a very nice and necessary feature. More on categories later. Here's an example of a typical pie chart that I found.

However, I have encountered an issue which is solved here, but I have yet to implement it. Any time that money is taken out of an account, Money treats it as an expense. This is fine normally except with the situations of transfers between accounts and credit card payments. For example, if I transfer $1200 from my savings to my chequing account, it thinks I spent $1200 and wants me to categorize it, even though the money hasn't really gone anywhere. The same idea happens with credit card payments. Ideally you would like the credit card as an account and everything you put on it (DVDs, comics, and of course junior bacon cheeseburgers) to be tracked as an expense. The issue lies when you pay the credit card from your bank account. Again money is leaving your account so Money wants to know why. You could put it in the Credit Card Payment category. Do you see the problem with that approach? Money tracks the $10 you spent at Wendy's on the CC, but also considers the $10 for the CC payment as an expense so it looks like you actually spent $20.

Apparently there is an easy fix to this with special categories that cover transfers. Thus bank transfers between accounts and transfers of monies onto a credit card are not counted as either income or expenses. I had tried this during my first run with Money but I must have did something wrong as it messed up my balances within the program to a ridiculous degree. So I deleted all my accounts, including the credit card one I had there originally and started fresh. I have yet to put the credit card back on as I wanted to figure out the transfer problem first. As well, when I redid all my bank accounts there were many more default categories than I had initially. I have zero clue as to why this is.

In short, I am still learning the ins and outs of this program and it should be fun to figure out what useful information I can extract from our spending habits. If you're interested in using a software program to track your monetary endeavours that has more bells and whistles than a simple spreadsheet, think about Microsoft Money. A free alternative called GnuCash can be found here.