Musings

2019 in review: Looking back to balance

2019 began with a word: Brave. But that word very quickly changed to: Balance.

I was burnt out from all the 2018 hustle to publish IKYLAM, I’d put aside everything else, including rest.

So I approached 2019 with my only goal being “to return to balance”.

Normally I’m all about the “SMART goal” thing, where it’s measurable and such, but this year I intentionally did not make it measurable. This type A planner personality would have been all “Okay, to achieve balance I need to attend the gym 2x a week, write 3x a week, cook a homecooked meal at least once a week, finish reading 2 books a month, and have 2 lazy evenings a week. Annnnnd, go!” Haha I’d be hustling to achieve it and miss the point. So for the first time ever, I left the goal intentionally vague and amorphous.

Looking back: Did I do it? Did I return to balance?

Maybe not in the way a type A planner personality would want, but overall, yes. Here is a few of the ways I see improvement:

  • 2019 started with hardly touching my writing-related life. I was too burnt out. Now it’s a steady part of my week again. I am moving forward on my next novel, as well as regularly blogging for you fine folks and improving my business practices through training opportunities.
  • In 2018, I only read 4 books. That’s how “in the zone” I was with the publishing process. In contrast, 2019 I was able to read 54 books. What a jump! I was finally able to relax and refuel my inspirational well.
  • I had stopped attending the gym almost entirely, but throughout the year I was slowly able to build that back in to my routine. Not all the way as far as I’d like, but a whole lot closer.

Many times throughout the year I’d tell fellow writer Jenn “I didn’t write before work, I slept in” or “I didn’t write when I got home yesterday. Instead I binge-watched Lucifer, oops.” And she would faithfully remind me “Your goal for the year is balance, and it sounds like you’re achieving that.” Having that reminder, that permission to rest, was crucial.

And now, looking forward to 2020, my new word is: Brave.

It feels like the right time to choose Brave. Stepping out into big things while keeping balance in mind. Here goes!


Now you tell me: How’d your 2019 go? And what’s next for 2020?

for the Creatives

3 practical strategies that keep me hustling

My writerly dreams battle against lovable nuisances like a day job (Cha-ching$$$$), family & friends, self-care, and of course household chores. And I have found three strategies that keep me writing even amidst ALL THE THINGS that will squeeze their way into my calendar.

I am beyond THRILLED to be featured on Ksenia Anske’s blog. My five years ago self would never suspect that I would one day have this opportunity to work with and learn from this writerly genius I admire so much (Oh btw, awhile back I also wrote about all the reasons I love Ksenia). Okay, I’m going to stop gushing now. Keep dreaming and working, and go steal my tips from Ksenia’s blog for your own world domination plans.

for the Creatives

An experiment saving $$$ with Qapital app

Always one to shirk away from traditional New Year resolutions, I’ve come up with an improvement-related experiment instead.

I’m all for finding motivation to save without too much spreadsheet work. Ech, spreadsheets, am I right?

Enter Qapital app.

(Psst… Sign up using my referral link, & Qapital gives us both $5)

Qapital is kinda like a saving $$$ game. You set “rules” for how to save and then you rake in the dough – or at least the dollars and cents and sense.

The great savings experiment numbers data stuff:

I already save each month, so my skepticism reared its actually-quite-beautiful head when I first heard of Qapital. “But wait… To save that money, you have to already have that money, so it’s just moving money at certain times to ‘save’ it when you already had it.”

Since I’m not a numbers person, I budget with Mint which tells me my net each month of the past calendar year. See below: The green is income, the red is spending, and the black tumultuous line is my net. bargraph.png

I’m not super consistent, because income fluctuates, payments fluctuate (somewhere in there I paid off loans, woohoo!), and okay fine, Starbucks and Lularoe addiction fluctuates. But I used excel formulas to find the monthly net average/median (which is the best to track here? I don’t know!).

I’ll be testing if Qapital app helps me save more than my average or median. My average/median are both just over $1000. If I save more than that, I call this a possible success, while realizing there are a bunch of other factors that affect how much I’m saving. (I’m no scientist with a control case and laboratory or anything here… ) But it would be the start of an indicator.

If I don’t save more than that, it may have been a flop *for me to choose to use it in this way.* Note that doesn’t mean the app is a flop. My next option would be to automatically deposit my average into savings each month, and then only after that point do Qapital savings beyond that average.

 

How I’ll be saving through the Qapital app:

I set up two savings buckets in the app:

  1. Money for my book launch – I figure I’ll need some money for ads, giveaways, book launch party, something, though I don’t have details figured yet.
  2. General savings – because I should save money to just save money too of course.

 

I’ll be saving money for my book launch in relation to groceries & visits to Starbucks:

  1. If I spend less than $40/month at Starbucks, the remainder will go toward my book launch (so I’m incentivized to not go to Starbucks as often)
  2. Every time I buy Starbucks, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving even if I cave and go to Starbucks)
  3. Every time I buy groceries at Walmart, $5 will go toward my book launch (so I’m saving throughout the month regardless, just by living my life)

 

I’ll be saving money for just saving based on bigger rules:

  1. The 52-week rule reversed, meaning each week an amount goes into savings counting down from $52 the first week, $51 the next week, $50 the next, and so on through the year.
  2. The round-up rule, meaning every time I spend money, the amount will be rounded to the nearest dollar and the change put into savings.
  3. Plus, 1% of my income will automatically be deposited into savings.

 

We’ll see how this goes. I’ll update you in about 3 months on my experience. I may keep it the way it is or adjust depending on results. I could definitely move more into savings, but I want to start small and see how it goes.

 

How are you saving $$$?

Tell me your best tips and tricks to savings in the comments below. And if you used the Qapital app before, let me know your experience.

Want to try the Qapital app?

Use my referral link anywhere in this post and Qapital app will give us each $5

Want something more simple for saving?

My friend Kathryn is using the Qapital app in a set-it-and-forget-it way, because she’s all about the simple life. Check out her post and see if it’s something you’d want to try.