The Closing of a Year--Looking Forward to 2019

Home. Home-Home.

Nested securely back on my couch in Sparks, today, December 30th, marks the week of entering the New Year.

I spent the last week home in Ohio. For those of you that subscribe or follow my other means of social media, you got a brief glance into the time that was life back at home. From driving my brother’s 50th Anniversary Mustang GT across the highways of Ohio, to mushroom picking with my parents in the woods of Mohican State Park, the past week has been both relaxing and eye-opening all-in-one. I am an Ohio-girl; 100%.

I made several more sales of my paw balm, which gives me hope that next year I’ll have return buyers. A little goes a long way, but from folks buying it up for cracked puppy noses to an all-natural cuticle cream that can rival Burt’s Bees (no bee’s wax, in mine!), it sold itself.

I spent most of December pushing towards the holidays, until it jumped out and was on top of me. The last week passed by in a sleepy blur, and now I’m left self-reflecting in the sunlight of early Sunday morning. What was 2018, and what does 2019 mean for me?

2018 was quite the year. Ending jobs, ending relationships, selling my house and ending my residency in Ohio… it’s all led to where I’m sitting right now. The mindset I’m in, right now.

2018 was a year of personal, mental growth. I left a dark, stagnant place and moved to Nevada on a whim, launching into an all-absorbing position in one of the most controversial tech companies to exist in our generation. I left behind old mental blocks, let old chips heal, and have started dabbling in the waters of career freedom. Can I survive off selling a handful of tins of homogenized oils and wax? Nope, but I can continue to grow a market presence until I really figure out what I’m doing.

On the flight from Columbus to Dallas, I spent some time jotting down notes about where I’m at and where I want to go. 2018, while I’ve existed comfortably, has not exactly been financially kind to me. A cross-country move, surprise double-knee surgery, and over 15% increase in general cost of living (seriously, 3x the cost for renting property), the savings I’ll be rolling into 2019 with is quite paltry, and rather concerning in terms of benchmarking for future financial security.

Evaluating my living circumstances, the two largest expenses I have are rent/utilities and food. Between dining out and groceries, I have more than doubled my past expenses. Tack that on to the increased cost for where I live, to include double the gas prices and the distance to work as I had in Ohio, and we’re looking at a struggle to break even on a monthly basis. And by struggle, from a very real standpoint, I’ll end 2018 close to -$7000 for the year.

Insurance doubled, gas doubled, groceries doubled, rent tripled…all on top the expenses one must account for when completing a full move. But, all that means is I have a strong understanding of where I’m starting 2019 and where I need to trim the fat. Financial enemy #1: Rent.

Moving into 2019, one of the largest goals I have is to cut my rent/utilities by at least 50%. In order to do so, the quickest and easiest way is to get a house-mate. I have a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment. It shouldn’t be that hard, but in reality, it is VERY hard. Why? Because my second bedroom serves as storage and office space. There flat-out isn’t room to have another person fully live here. Not unless I condense my belongings. This brings me to the two-part plan, painted for the first 3 months of 2019.

  1. Find a new place to live (house to rent or buy)

  2. Clean-up, sort, and organize my belongings.

My lease is up at the end of March. Now, I didn’t share the full story behind where I currently live, and the incredibly finicky neighbor that lives below me. Long-story-short, though, is I have zero intentions of extending my lease. This gives me three months, come January, to relocate.

January: Clean/organize my belongings—I am giving myself 4 weeks to purge my belongings of anything and everything I do not find useful, or no longer have a need or want for. Not only will this help me consolidate my belongings, but it will help me pack and reduce what I move on to the next place. Cleaning up the last bits of my messy life, shipped out from Ohio.

February: Identify and secure means of housing—whether it’s buying or renting, by the end of February I want to have the deposit down on the next place I’ll call home. It will be a house, with a yard and a garage—whether it’s mine to own or a place to rent for a few years is still undetermined. It needs to be able to support the dogs and a comfortable, anxiety-free life with them, as well as have enough space for a second person to live there.

March: Move—If I accomplish this, this gives me a full month to move into my new home. I can move in, and clean the apartment I currently live in for the highest return on my deposit. This will have me out right at the start of April, when my 12-month lease is scheduled to end.

Following this, I’ll have to pay two places to live in March, but from then on out, I’ll be at a 50% rate for rent/utilities. I’ll have saved enough money from the “double payment” by June, and from then on out, I can count on at least another year and a half living, saving close to $1000. This figure is calculated including plan #2—scheduled nights out.

During my time here, (I’d like to think) as a result of my work schedule, I’ve unknowingly grown into a habit of living unbarred 50% of the time. When 50% of my living days are wrapped around work—literally work, eat, sleep, repeat, I’ve fallen into a “make the most of your time free” mindset. This has resulted in multiple nights out (restaurant and bar tabs), the shopping and preparation for these nights such as new outfits and high-end makeup and perfumes, resulting in a lack of financial tracking and all-around accountability. Simply reigning in on the “extras” will save me well over $100, if not $250-$300/month. As a plan of action:

  1. Limit dining out/bar nights to once a week (date night, bar with friends after work Sunday, apres ski festivities, etc.) I can supplement with the Netflix account I have but mainly share.

  2. Schedule these activities in advance—posted calendar on the refrigerator schedules play activities.

  3. Tie in meal prepping activities to date-nights in. Pop open a bottle of wine and spend a few hours making pizza buns, mashed potatoes and fried greens, or a thick, hearty soup or chili.

These are all things I used to do—It was like pulling teeth to even get me out of the house that one-time/week. My old goal used to be similar—one time per week, but not due to restricting myself financially, but trying to get myself to be more social and to do and explore more things. I used to never go out, and now I need to focus on the opposite.

As a 2019 goal, I want to wrap these targets in a nice bow, gifted along with exploring more of Reno. Every month, for example, I can’t go to the same place twice -or- I have to try one new place every month. I’d like to find a board game parlor in town—I’m sure they have one. But I’ve never even so much as looked. These are the things I want to focus on. For me, I’m going with the latter.

That covers two areas under the financially beneficial umbrella; a stable place to call home, and my social life. That brings me to my next area of focus—my mental/physical health.

I froze my gym membership with Anytime Fitness back in October. For $36/month, I couldn’t justify only going once or twice a month. This is the longest I’ve gone in my entire life without having some place to call my home gym. It has been a mental battle since moving here to maintain a regular gym schedule—I can’t seem to force my way through the long 4-day work weeks when I spent 14 hours/day at work, and less than 5 hours sleeping, while still trying to take care of the dogs (run them and whatnot) AND spend an hour lifting heavy at the gym. Something always ends up giving. Either the dogs don’t get run, or I end up exhausted and frustrated that my body won’t perform the way I want it to under the bar.

I need to re-establish a routine. I’ve been fairly decent with maintaining my consistency with yoga these last few weeks, and I want to hang on to that. I also need to invest in me. Meaning planned, real, monetary investments. Scheduled massages, instead of waiting until I’m having a breakdown, for example, would be a nice start. Scheduled pamperings to give myself a rushed wave of relaxation and relief, I believe, will be more beneficial than struggling through 48 hours of recovery sleep, followed by crashing head-first into the next work week cranky and aching because my body is sore from underuse. This rolls into my nutritional health, as when this happens, I don’t cook or clean or take care of myself properly from the inside out. Which contributes greatly to those extra restaurant charges and last minute fast-food pickups. What I save from not eating out so much is more than enough to cover my gym fees, even a few yoga classes at an established studio, and will take a bite out of whatever pampering I choose—be it a massage or sugaring at a salon, or a simple haircut and self-given manicure. Scheduling these times for me will be crucial to the success of the increased structure. This step will net $0 in savings, but will fortify my mental health and physical wellbeing beyond what money can buy.

The last bit I want to touch on is business. This. The plan for Turning Strawberry in 2019.

Looking back, Turning Strawberry accomplished a surprising amount in 2018. Launched as a way for me to simply get my thoughts in order, this movement has already hosted a benefit donation drive for the Stark County Humane Society, has been sponsored and hosted an environmentally-based giveaway, and has begun dabbling in product sales. As the outreach grows and the daily page-views increase, I want to use Turning Strawberry to launch a wave—a network for the growth and development of others. As a side, personal goal, I want to have my 200-hr yoga teaching certification completed this year. As a main goal, I want to have coordinated my first event by Spring of this year.

The first day of Spring is March 20 and Earth Day is April 22.

March 20th, I will host a yoga event. This gives me just under 3 months to plan, advertise, coordinate and secure a location and a certified teacher to have a First Day of Spring yoga flow. Right now, I already have a top contender picked out for location—it’s just coordinating the rest that needs to happen.

For the month of April, I want to have another Earth Day giveaway. It doesn’t seem like it was too long ago I did 2018’s giveaway, but for 2019, I’d like to pair it with a social media event. I already have an idea, and want to include local businesses, as well. Earth Day this coming year is on a Monday—perfect for my personal work schedule (at the current moment), but not the greatest for large turn out to a centralized event. Tentatively now, look out for the posting for another yoga flow on Sunday the 21st, in honor of Earth Day.

Each quarter, I resolve to set aside time to plan out events such as this. Two events per season is reasonable, and should open the door to an established practice come 2020. In addition, for Turning Strawberry, I aim to post a blog post every week—a goal I pseudo tried for in 2018 and clearly didn’t achieve, and I will start a YouTube channel, aimed at uploading every other week, to start. This is the year to drive Turning Strawberry to, at a minimum, a self-sustaining business. It might not be enough to support me fully, but I aim to have the seeds planted by March 2020, when the bars lift on my professional career and leave me with a truly open playing field. And just to touch on it, don’t worry—I haven’t just dropped the coffee shop idea. That’s definitely still on the table, but as long as I’m on the work schedule I’m on now, I have to focus my energy on something I know I can push, even with being physically absent 50% of the time. I need to focus on where I’m at, now, establishing and strengthening my current assets, before I end up being forced too thin.

If you have any ideas, or anything you’d like to see, hear, or make happen, I’d love to hear from you. What are your plans, thoughts, resolutions, or dreams that you’d like to make happen in 2019?

Thank you, all, for the incredible support through 2018—I wouldn't have made it this far without you.