Today was my third New Year’s Day in my new home. Well, it’s hardly a “new” home at this point. Or, maybe it is. Technically, I’ve been here for just over two years, but I have yet to finish unpacking. How about we compromise and call it newish?
So, today was my third New Year’s Day in my newish home…
However, it was my first time celebrating by having a dinner of peas and greens. I’ve had the traditional black-eyed peas simmering away in the slow cooker all day along with some ham, onions, and jalapenos. I don’t eat cooked greens, so I opted for a plate of spring greens I had on hand, topped with a Thousand Island dressing that I whipped up. Yeah, I know, that it’s almost sacrilege to avoid cooked greens in the U.S. South—please don’t revoke my Southern card.
It felt good to cross a milestone on the first day of the year: my first time cooking and eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day in my newish home.
That should help me get off on the right foot for the rest of the year. I fully expect it to be a big one. Life has been treating me reasonably well lately, and I look forward to seeing what it has in store for the next 364 days and beyond.
Whatever it may be, at least I’ve knocked one milestone off the list.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been playing a lot with spreadsheets. Yes, spreadsheets. Exciting stuff, right?
For the past three years, I’ve been using YNAB (You Need a Budget) to handle my monthly budget. It is at least in my top three favorite pieces of software of all time, but it is not ideal for looking at a “bigger picture” view of an entire upcoming year. I wanted to dive into the finer details of 2023’s annual budget, and the best way to do that was to create a spreadsheet. So, I spent a weekend day before Christmas creating my first spreadsheet—somehow I skipped over every computer course in high school in college that taught this skill.
I had a lot of fun creating that first spreadsheet. Seriously. But, I tend to geek out on stuff like that anyway.
I was having so much fun that I created other spreadsheets for net worth tracking, future media purchases, and even my household pantry items.
I may have went a little overboard.
It all happened at an opportune time. As 2022 was winding down, I felt like I needed to reset a few areas of my life. It was a great year, but I also wanted to make sure that I was being the best version of me that I could be.
And that all starts with a plan.
Before I dive into that, let me just say that it’s kind of awesome being an adult sometimes. I can totally geek out on learning how to use spreadsheets for the first time and not worry about whether it’s “cool.” A part of me is glad I didn’t learn how to do this in high school.
2023 Plans and Goals
I honestly don’t know if I’ll hit any of the following or even come close, but I like to kick off every year with some semblance of a plan. There are certainly some things that I’m more dedicated to than others. But, I’ll check back in with you at the end of the year and let you know how it all went.
In 2022, I started blogging about my journey toward financial independence. I plan to do more of that in 2023. I don’t have any set number of posts or any plans more specific than that. There are two things I want to accomplish with this:
- Document my journey so that I can look back on it from some mountain cabin (or something like that) during my early retirement and remember the hustle.
- Teach others what I have learned.
Last year, I primarily focused on paying down debt (other than my mortgage) and building a solid emergency fund. This year, I will focus on beefing up my investments so that my money can continue growing.
The biggest potential hiccup in this plan will be student loans. If the current administration’s debt forgiveness stands, I will have the remainder of mine wiped clean. If not, I’ll need to refocus on paying those off. We’ll see how that goes later in the year as it goes through the U.S. Supreme Court.
Regardless of the outcome, I’ll continue heavily investing into retirement and maxing out my 401K and Roth IRA for the year. My stretch goal is to invest 30%+ of my net income into my individual investment account.
My plans rely on being super strict with my budget. I’ve left plenty of room in there for fun stuff. I’m certainly not cutting anything out of my entertainment budget category. But, it will mean that I need to continue being disciplined and not make spur-of-the-moment, off-budget purchases.
The long-term goal is to retire in 12 years. When I say “retire” I’m really talking about being financially independent. I doubt I’ll ever stop working or creating things.
However, I want the freedom to walk away on my own terms and in my own time.
Food Forest / Gardening
There’s nothing too surprising here. This year, I will continue planting new fruit and nut trees. I have not decided what to plant in 2023, but I have already set aside a specific dollar amount in the budget to continue funding this project. This should be the easiest goal to hit.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve added peaches, plums, and pecans to go along with the existing pear and fig trees. There are a few plants I know I want to establish at some point:
- American Persimmon
- Pecan (different variety)
Some of what I plant my simply depend on what is available locally. Pawpaws are native to the area, but it’s tough to find them for sale. Persimmons tend to be hit or miss at nurseries, and I passed on a chance to get a couple last year because it would’ve put me over my budget. Longer term, I want to continue researching native plants to the area and integrate them more fully into my young food forest.
I don’t have major plans for a veggie garden this year. I may change my mind in a couple of months, depending on my mood at the time.
Typically, I make a promise to myself to write a novel for the year’s goal. I’m not going to do that this year. Instead, I am promising myself that I’ll just let myself be creative in whatever way that I’m feeling in the moment. I don’t want to shackle myself down with a specific plan.
Maybe I’ll write a book this year. Perhaps I’ll put brush to canvas and create dozens of paintings. Or, build out an entire D&D diorama of some world that only exists in my mind.
I’m not sure how to define that as a “goal,” per se. I suppose I’ll only know that I’ve crossed it off the list if I feel like I’ve been true to myself by this time next year.
I. Will. Dedicate. More. Time. To. Reading. This. Year.
I am now in my fifth year of reading something from a book every day, I didn’t feel like I set enough time aside in 2022 for just lying back and consuming books. This year, I will do better.
So, I’ll be setting my Goodreads yearly reading challenge to 24 books (2 books per month) once again. And, I will absolutely hit this goal in 2023.