It's the start of a brand new year, and people are making their new year resolutions again! I've made so many resolutions which I always failed to achieve, so this year, I'm trying something different - instead of living my life trying to live up to crazy resolutions, I'm just going to try to live life with a few goals in mind.
If you know me personally, you would know that I like to plan ahead, and I do it a lot. I don't live life 100% according to my plans, but it helps to know where I need to get to so I know what I need to do to get there! Here are the 3 main areas that I would like to improve my 2019 in!
LESS TIME ONLINE, MORE DAYS OFFLINE
In the last quarter of 2018, Gordon got so obsessed with YouTube that I decided to just let him go cold turkey on it. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but I'm so glad that he realized that he could live without gluing his eyes on a screen! We no longer use our phones in front of him, and we now keep the devices away from his sight, and it was a blessing in disguise because we ended up with more free time to engage him in active play and family bonding activities :)
He's happier now that we spend time actually playing with him, understanding more about his interests and personality along the way. We also went to Hay Dairies Goat's Milk Farm and Jurong Bird Park recently and it dawned on me that they were more enjoyable and less bothersome than I thought! As such, I am pledging to spend more time with my family and friends offline in 2019 - bringing Gordon out for new experiences and meeting my friends in person to spend quality time bonding.
BIGGER DREAMS, BETTER BUDGETING
Before 2018 ended, I finally managed to get Gordon and I fully covered for our insurance, which was one of my financial goals since he was born. After speaking with my financial advisor and doing some research on my own, I decided that I have some financial goals that I'd like to achieve in 2019.
First of all, I need to start building up my emergency funds. If you don't know what that is, it is simply a sum of money (usually 2-3 months of your monthly salary) set aside solely for emergency purposes like a sudden loss of income or a health emergency. I'd be honest in saying that while we do have an endowment savings plan for Gordon, I do not have any savings in my bank - in fact, as I'm typing this, my bank account has only $5.96 left, which is a major red alert for any parent! My first financial goal for 2019 is to have 3 months' worth of my monthly salary set aside in a separate bank account by the end of this year.
Next, I want to start planning for my retirement. You might think I'm crazy to be thinking about retiring at 22 years old, but if you think about the reality of how much it costs, along with all the life changes that is expected to happen in our lives over the next 30 years, it can be daunting! My financial advisor went through my financial planning with me, and I eventually agreed with him that having many small yet flexible savings plans is the best way for me to make sure I get enough money for retirement, without having to sacrifice my lifestyle habits. So for the next financial goal for 2019, I want to start (at least) the first savings plan towards my retirement by the end of this year.
Last but not least, I want to be able to give Gordon experiences without breaking my bank. I made a promise to myself to start bringing Gordon to more places when he turns 3 years old, because I felt it was the best age to let him explore the world for what it is - and stop living in the safety blanket that I've been wrapping him around with. This means that by 2020, I need to have some separate savings for our wonderful adventures to come - I'd also like to be able to bring my family on a vacation too, even if it's just to Sentosa Island for a staycation. Since I have no concrete plans over what I want to do yet, I decided to go with something that I've failed at doing before - the $5 savings challenge. This challenge basically requires you to just save every $5 that you receive, and then see how much you've saved from it at the end of the year - I failed at it before because I didn't have a fixed purpose of what it would've contributed towards, but my last financial goal for 2019 is to be able to save enough $5 notes throughout the year to pay for our vacation in 2020!
EMBRACE FEARS, DESTROY EXPECTATIONS
One thing I learnt from 2018 is that embracing fears is actually not as scary as I thought it would be, and the adrenaline of doing something I never thought I would ever do was rather satisfying. One of the parenting goals I had was to conquer my fears so that I could show Gordon there's nothing to be afraid of and to always follow his dreams (whatever it may be), and this year, I want to put my words into action.
2018 was a year of many self-doubt moments too, and the root of evil always boiled down to one word - expectations. Whether it was my own expectations of what I should do, other people's expectations of what they think I should do, or even just expectations of what I think others should do - it drained so much out of me. So in 2019, I want to destroy expectations and just start living life without having to conform/perform better than expectations that were set in this world.
NOTE TO SELF
Hey Jena, how are you doing today? While you were writing this on 1st January 2019, you were living on a monthly salary of $1K from freelance marketing while doing adhoc cleaning jobs to help cover expenses. You battled with bad financial decisions, started a journey towards getting yourself healthy (you were 72.7kg with a body age of 43 in August 2018!) and fought those demons in your head that were still haunting you for the past years, but I hope that by the time you're reading this on 31st December 2019, you are doing way better financially, physically and mentally without compromising on your work-life balance! My wish for you this year is to find your ikigai (the source of value/the things that makes your life worthwhile), to stop making rash decisions (financial ones, especially) and to start/end everyday happy.