2019 Goal Check-In (Part 1 – The Fun Stuff)

As we are quickly approaching June – the midpoint of the year – I thought now would be a good time to check on where we are with the goals we set at the beginning of 2019. First for the fun stuff…

We are in week 21 of our 48 Really Great Dates project and so far, we’ve managed to go on 20 dates. You won’t find any expensive dinners or theater outings, no opera nights or wine tastings on our list. Hello, we’re frugal minimalists! Our dates were so cheap that some were even free. Book signings, berry picking, waterfall hikes, and sharing a free chocolate croissant…that’s what you’ll find on our list.

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Admittedly, we got off to a rocky start with dating. At first, I thought it was because we were out of sync – we’ve been together nearly a decade, after all – but I soon realized that wasn’t the case. We’re so used to doing what we want when we want that the concept of a structured weekly date was just so foreign to us that we almost failed. For the first few weeks, we found ourselves saving up the fun stuff so that we could execute one “epic” date. But the dates weren’t even that epic. In fact, a lot of the planned dates didn’t even go as planned and we ended up just doing something to “fill in the slot”. To fix it, we threw the rules out the window and started having fun again. A lot of our recent dates were planned on the fly and they, by far, have been the best ones yet.

Though it wasn’t one of our written goals for the year, we are always striving to be more frugal, self-sufficient, and minimalist. Though we failed at cutting our home internet service, we succeeded in not turning on the central heat at all this winter. We saved $91.12 (over the previous year) by operating only 2 electric heaters when necessary. February is our coldest month here. In 2018, our February electric bill was $177. This year, it was $102. I would love to say that we’re going without A/C this summer but that’s not happening. The dynamics that help make our home warm in the winter (east-facing windows and being the middle apartment in a 3-story building) also help make it hot in the summer.

Sadly, the farmer who has hosted our CSA for the past 3 years decided not to do a CSA this year. We thought about joining another CSA out of Kentucky. Though they are less than an hour away, we felt we weren’t really supporting our local farmers. We have so many wonderful folks who show up to sell at the Saturday market that it seemed a shame not to shop there first. Our previous CSA cost $25/week so we added that amount to our budget for the Saturday market. So far, we’ve enjoyed a variety of lettuces, onions, radishes, tomatoes and many, many delicious strawberries!

We also planted our “tiny” garden again this year. We have yellow squash, eggplant, okra, cow peas, onions, radishes, watermelon, sunflowers, and 3 different kinds of tomatoes. Inside our apartment, we’re even trying microgreens, along with a new crop of herbs. So far, things are looking good…well, except for the pesky mole that keeps running through the onions. We’ve already harvested a few radishes and our squash are in bloom.

Our other goal for 2019 was to work on defining our relationship with money so that we might peaceable coexist. When I first started writing this update, my intention was to talk about our progress here as well, but as I started typing (aka letting my thoughts ramble onto the page), I realized that this is a post all unto itself. Since we’re heading off on our first camping trip of the season today, I’ll save the money talk for next week. Until then, have a great week!

What goals did you set for 2019? Where are you with those goals?

Dates, Dollars, and other Directions for 2019

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is off to a great start and ready to write a new chapter in your life story this year. I know I’m ready!

2018 was a good year. We accomplished much, but by the time December rolled around, I was ready for a new challenge. With minimalism as the basis for all that we do, we’ve decided to focus our efforts this year on two fronts: our relationship with each other and our relationship with money. To address the former, we came up with a fun idea that we’re calling 48 Really Great Dates. The goal is simple; we want to make our relationship with each other our number one priority by blocking out time each week for just the two of us – no family, no phones, no chores, no errands, no distractions – and do something that is both fun and memorable. The rules are:

  • We must take turns planning each week’s date. Dates can be a surprise or an activity planned together; however, the person whose turn it is must take the lead on making arrangements for the date.
  • There is no set budget, but all funds must come from our entertainment account.
  • Dates can take place any time of the day, any day of the week (Monday – Sunday).
  • There’s no maximum time limit but each date must be at least 2 hours long.
  • Dates can involve a meal but do not have to.
  • We must take at least one photo while on the date.
  • There are 4 “skip” weeks built into the calendar year. These skips can be used at any time to cover illness, vacation, or family obligation.
  • Dates can be repeated, but not in the same month.

We’ll be posting our date ideas and photos on our Projects Page, in case you want to borrow a few for yourself. And, as always, we’d love to hear your suggestions for great date ideas.

The topic of money will require a bit of a different mindset, but I think exploring our relationship with the Benjamins (and the Jacksons, Lincolns, and Washingtons too) can also be fun and memorable. Though we may explore a few options for living with less money, our biggest focus will be on ensuring that our use of money aligns with our values. To do that, we’ll take a look at:

  • Our current relationship with money
  • Our actual financial fears vs. society’s fears
  • Saving, investing, or stuffing cash into a mattress – which might be the better option for us
  • Spending in ways that support (or don’t support) our values
  • Charitable giving – how to align cash with the right causes

Throughout the year, we’ll also chat about real-life scenarios that make us consider (or reconsider) our ideas about money. A recent request from my uncle will be one of those.

Along with our posts about fun and finance, we’ll continue to keep you apprised of our efforts toward simplicity, minimalism, zero food waste, and sustainability, as these are the goals – above all else – that guide our lives each day.

What are your goals for 2019?