Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Goal Recap - January Edition

Lets see how I am doing:
     A) Continue to Tithe - Paying off a loan in December and having my six month car insurance come due this month messed up my cash flow, so I didn't tithe this month.  I'm on track to pay double next month, though, so I should be caught up soon.
     B) Start a daily religious practice - This is one of those situations where it is something that I actually enjoy doing, so it falls by the wayside.  I'm finding that the best way I get to the things that I enjoy is to make them a group activity or schedule them at a specific time.  Alternately, I need a tracking system.  My church gives out Today in print form, so the plan for this month is to put it by my bed to read every morning, and then check it off in the book as done.  If that doesn't work as a starting point, I'll have to get more creative next month.
2) Health
     A) Eat within my Weight Watchers points every day - I made this 3 weeks out of 4, and lost 1.5 pounds this month.
     B) i. Exercise six days a week / make the check-in list at my gym every month I was out of town for a week, and that really messed me up.  Made it to the gym today, so I am getting back on track.

3) Financial
     A) Have a side business (or multiple) netting 1K a month before taxes by December 2011  Still working on this - need to get some stuff actually for sale by the end of this month.
    B) Fully Fund 2011 Roth IRAs Cash flow issues mean that this fund continues to be $0.  I plan to be on track to put $1K away every month starting March.
    C)  Save in anticipation of (hopefully very temporary) loss of primary income I didn't get much saving done this month, but I didn't have to tap into any savings either.

4) Dreams
     A) Get the farm books in order, facilitate farm improvements, and manage the goats.  Our farm manager quit this month, so it has been quite a challenge, but I have been on top of this all month.
     B) Begin again on piano  Haven't started
     C) Re-connect with my Chinese friend I'm glad I put this on here because I had totally forgotten about it until I went through the list.

5) Prosaic
     1) Practice with my carry firearms at least once a month - Ouch.  In my defense, the weather was nasty and I was out of town for a week.  This is another one of those things that I enjoy that tend to fall by the wayside.  I need to find a place for it in my schedule and write it in.  If this is still red next month, I will make myself take a class, so I know I will do it.
     2) Consistently do Flylady routines.  Not as consistent as I'd like, but definitely happening on a regular basis.  I still just have too much stuff.

Analysis: It could be worse, but it could be better too.  I'm having trouble doing consistent/pattern kinds of things like housework and exercise.  Next month, my plan is to schedule out each day beforehand, making sure to include all the things I want to be doing on a daily basis.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

February's Frugal Menu

I  did a freezer inventory today, and boy do I have a lot of stuff in there!  Per Sharon, I'm getting a whole month of dinner menus together in preparation for a no-spend February.  Basically, ever dinner this month will revolve around something I already have in my freezer, which will hopefully knock the grocery bills down a bit right off the bat.  When possible, I am combining things in the freezer to make a meal.  I've approximated the materials and costs after each dish. 

1. Shrimp Okra Gumbo - frozen shrimp + frozen okra - $0
2. Steak and Side veggie - frozen steak + frozen veggie - $0
3. Red Beans with Goat Sausage - dish from freezer and rice to put it on from pantry - $0
4. Pan Sauteed Wahoo with salad- Wahoo from freezer + butter & dressing from fridge, romaine bought - $4
5. Baked Turkey with greens - Greens and Turkey from freezer (locally grown on pasture - yum!) - $0
6. Turkey Sausage Gumbo - Stock &meat from 2/5 Turkey, Goat Sausage from freezer, buy veggies - $5
7. Steak and Side Veggie - frozen steak + frozen veggie - $0
8. Tomato Soup and Hot Bread - Soup from Freezer and Bread made from pantry - $0
9. Trout Meunière - Trout from freezer, lemon from yard, flour from pantry, butter & parsley from fridge - $0
10. Red Beans with Goat Sausage - same as 3 - $0
11. Steak and Side Veggie - steak from freezer, veggie to be purchased - $4
12. Mu Shu Pork, Pork from freezer, chinese cabbage (used instead of pancakes) to be purchased - $5
13. Fried Shrimp - shrimp from freezer, flour and seasonings from pantry - $0
14. Pan fried Grouper and Redfish with salad - Grouper & Redfish from freezer, lettuces, butter bought - $9
15. Squash and Beans Soup with Greens with hot bread - dish from freezer, flour to be purchased - $10
16. Steak and Veggies - steak from freezer, veggies to be purchased - $4
17. Red Beans and Goat Sausage - same as 3 - $0
18. Trout Meunière -  same as 9, with parsely re-purchased  - $1
19. Baked Turkey with greens - same as 5 - $0
20. Turkey à la King - Turkey from 2/19, cream of mushroom from pantry, bread made, cheese bought - $5
21. Steak and Veggies - steak from freezer, veggies purchased - $4
22. Potted Goat with Lemon - Goat from freezer, lemon from yard, all other ingredients from pantry - $0
23. Amberjack and Greens - Amberjack and Greens from freezer, butter from fridge - $0
24. Red Beans with Goat Sausage - same as 3 - $0
25. Steak and Veggie - Steak from freezer, veggie purchased - $4
26. Veggie Stir-fry - some veggies and stock from freezer, some veggies purchased, rice from pantry - $7
27. Adobo - Goat from freezer, all other ingredients from pantry - $0
28. Trout Meunière - same as 9 - $0

Adding it up, if all goes well, I will spend $62 on dinners this month.  This includes items like butter and flour that can also be used for breakfasts and lunches.  As part of this challenge, I am also planning to bake all the bread that we eat for the next month, which should save us a few dollars a week, not to mention a ton of preservatives. 

Another big budget buster for us is frozen pizza for Mr. Goat to snack on in the middle of the night.  At $5-7 each, they add up fast.  So I am planning on buying a half a dozen of this pan and making them myself.  At $17.88 each, I figure each pan will have paid for itself after pizza number 4, as long as I don't use fancy toppings on my pizzas.  Now I just have to figure out how to make pizza dough with my bread machine (yes, I am that lazy).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

So This is what Financial Peace Feels Like

This evening, I gave a guy at the gas pump $10.  His story was that he was from Baton Rouge, his sister just had a baby, and he was out of gas and needed money.  I'm pretty sure that he was lying.  However,  when you're asking strangers for money, the stories may be lies but the need is probably true. 

It's possible he was telling the truth; I've heard weirder stories.  For instance, back when you used to have to pay the Hong Kong airport tax in cash, my husband ended up stranded between the airline turnstile and the airport because no one had informed him of the requirement for paper money.  He could see the atms past the turnstile, but airport personnel refused to let him through until he paid the tax.  He tried everything - asking for money, offering to sell anything he was carrying - and was continuously rejected for half an hour until a nice Aussie took pity on him and gave him cash.

What matters for today's story, though, is that I was able to responsibly give him the cash.  I had the money budgeted into my toy budget and enough cash in the bank to get me through the month.  There was a time when I would not have had a spare $10 in my budget at the end of the month for anyone.  There was a time before that when I would have already have been spending February or March's paycheck at the gas pump, and would have unthinkingly given him money because "$10 isn't very much, anyway.".  I like where I am now a lot better.  I had earned the $10, it was mine free and clear, and I was able to use it to help another person when they asked me for help.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Closets? Closets!

OK, yes, it officially took me 35 days to finish step 7 of Out with the Old, in with the New, and, yes, I kind of cheated, because I am giving up on my storage cupboard, which holds another large pile of stuff that I can't bear to give away.  But it's still a win, because I didn't add anything to the storage cupboard and I've got a 30 gallon bag filled with clothing to donate, a few things to try at the consignment store, and my closet went from this to this:
Yay for me!

Now it's on to rethinking my retirement plan (and creating a five year sketch by the end of the month).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scottrade and Bank of America Wouldn't Give Me My Money! Grrrr!

I recently decided to sell some stocks in a regular Scottrade account to pay some expenses as part of the financial restructuring after my loan payback last month.  I had never cashed out stock from an online brokerage before, and I assumed that, after the stock transaction cleared, it would be like any online account - 3 business days to transfer funds electronically.  I needed the money to pay a cheque that I expected to hit my bank account on January 15th, so I thought I was in good time when I sold the stocks on January 3rd.  I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Here is the actual timeline:

Day 1 - Monday - Stocks sold.
Day 4 - Thursday - Stocks clear.  I call Scottrade before noon to order my cheque.  They say it will be sent out that day.
Day 8 - Monday - My cheque arrives.  Scottrade has an office less than 30 miles away from me, and it took them 4 days to get me my cheque? WTF?
Day 9 - Tuesday - My cheque goes out in the mail to my bank, which has no branches in my state.
Day 16 - Tuesday - My bank acknowledges receipt of my cheque, but won't free funds until the next business day. It should not take a week to send a cheque from LA to FL; my post office is usually very good, so I am guessing that the problem is somewhere in FL.
Day 17 - Wednesday -My cheque clears at my bank and I have actual possession of my money.

Luckily for me, the cheque I thought was going to hit on Day 13 (Saturday) hit on Day 18 instead, so I wasn't overdrawn, but that was the closest to an overdraft on my checking account I have been since before I graduated high school.  Not where I like my finances to be!

Lessons I learned from this:
(1) EF money cannot all be kept in brokerage accounts in case I should need cash quickly.  I'm not sure what my ratio of brokerage accounts to savings needs to be, but the 100 to 0 ratio that I am rocking this month is obviously not a good idea.
(2) I need a new bank.  If I'm going to have all the inconvenience of an internet bank, I might as well have some of the advantages.  I bank with Bank of America because it made sense when we were moving every few years all over the country and I was traveling all over the world.  Now that our only foreseeable moves are within the United States, and our travel is strictly recreational, it's time to get a grown-up bank account.  Do you have an online bank that you would recommend?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is There a Direct Correlation Between Money, Corruption, and Exploitation?

A few days ago, Tread discussed the idea that "money and happiness are contradictory forces in life, that 'simplicity' trumps 'wealth' to such a degree that a fat wallet dooms one to misery and dissatisfaction."  The focus of her ruminations was the myriad ways in which we spend money unthinkingly, and thus miss out on the happiness that that money purchases for us.  But I was intrigued by the position of her artist friend "who insists that to find herself suddenly a millionaire would be an unfortunate state, because to have money in this world directly correlates with corruption and exploitation."

It is true that there are some millionaires, though assuredly not all, who gain their millions through corruption and exploitation.   But her hypothetical isn't talking about that; in her scenario it's is as though a million dollars appears out of thin air and falls on her head.  To her, merely possessing a million dollars worth of deferred purchasing ability would be negatively transformative to her self-actualization.

My first reaction to this statement was something along the lines of "She's crazy - I'll take a problem like that any time."  But on further reflection, I can see her point.  I still don't agree that there is a direct correlation.  I do, however, see some correlation to the extent that money is viewed as a proxy for anything besides delayed purchasing ability.  If you view money as a proxy for power, or status, or love, or anything besides the amount of material things you can get in return for handing it over, it can create great unhappiness for you and all those around you.

I have known a few people who were moderately wealthy (think 5 to 15 million dollars).  For various random reasons that I won't go into here, I have known the actual state of their personal finances, not just what possessions they chose to display to the world, so I know that they were actually wealthy, not faking it on credit.  In this small subset of people, I have seen money purchase happiness both in the form of immediate things, like luxury cars and foods, and long-term things, such as the ability to quit a job and pursue art full time.  I have also seen money purchase misery with the exact same items.

For instance, luxury cars purchase happiness when they are bought and enjoyed for their aesthetics and features.  They purchase misery when they are bought and enjoyed for the real or imagined jealousy of the guy next door or the people who mocked you in high school.  If there's a hole in your psyche, buying a lot of stuff to fill it doesn't work any better than eating a lot of food.  Buying experiences won't help either; no matter where you go or what you do, you can't get away from yourself.  You can't use money to purchase feelings of self-worth, and corruption and exploitation seep in when you try.

The saddest situation is where people attempt to use money to purchase love and respect. Corruption and exploitation run rampant, because neither can be purchased, no matter how much the purchaser wishes it were so.  You can purchase a simulacrum, and of the person simulating the feelings is good enough, it can feel very real, for a time.  In my experience, though, people can only delude themselves for so long.  Why do you think famous, wealthy men tend to go through so many gold-digger wives?  It's not just a desire for ever-changing arm candy; they could get that in a way less costly transaction than marriage.  It's a desire for true intimacy with another person, which they discover over and over again that money cannot purchase.

So what relevance does this have for those of us who aren't going to have a million dollars materialize any time soon?  I think that, wherever we are on our financial journey, we need to continuously  examine the role that we give money in our lives.  I see a lot of PF blogs with "millionaire" in the title, either as an aspiration or as a boast.  To the extent that "millionaire" is part of your self-definition, what does that mean to you?  If you are working hard to get there, what do you think will happen at the end of the journey?  Can what you aspire to be bought with money?  Is accumulating money the most efficient way to your aspirations?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I < 3 Netflix Suggestions

Netflix's instant play offerings are a bit sparse in the "Hollywood blockbusters made in the last 20 years" category.  However, it has a phenomenally good suggestion system.  To date, I have rated only 167 movies, yet probably 65% of the suggestions I get are  spot on.  My favorite part of Netflix, in fact, is going to my suggestion page and finding new favorite movies that I've never heard of before I clicked "play now".  Here are 5 of my favorites that I have discovered in the last six months since I got Netflix:

(1) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo  I don't live under a rock, so I had heard of the books, but frankly, I didn't think they were my thing at all.  I still haven't read them, but this movie and the sequal, The Girl Who Played With Fire were so terrific that I wanted to go see The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest while it was in theaters. Unfortunately, the nearest showing was 6 hours away, so I'll have to wait until the 25th to get it on Netflix.  They're just basic action flicks, but done with such style and panache that you forget that you are watching them in Sweedish with English subtitles.

(2) Departures Set in modern Japan, it tells the story of a cellist who discovers that he doesn't quite have what it takes musically to make it as a professional, and ends up on a career path that requires him to decide what is really important in his life.  It won the 2009 Academy Award for best foreign film; in Japanese with English subtitles.

(3) Timer In a world where almost everyone knows how much time remains before they meet their soul mate, Oona's timer remains stubbornly blank.  Although it's billed as a rom-com, it was more thoughtful than I expected, and the amorous adventures of Oona and her family kept me riveted.

(4) A Walk To Beautiful Produced by NOVA, this documentary about women seeking treatment for obstetric fistula uses no camera tricks to pull your heartstrings, but is no less moving than Born into Brothels.  Due to the nature of the medical condition the women depicted suffer from, I can't recommend this movie for children or those with weak stomachs.  It's mostly in English, with subtitles when the women speak in their local dialects.

(5) Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog I confess that, as a fan of The Guild, I had heard of this before I saw it on Netflix.  But I hadn't gotten around to seeing it when it was free (and I don't visit pirate websites), so I had pretty much forgotten about it until it popped up in my suggestions queue.  Dr. Horrible struggles to get into the evil super-villians' club and win the love of Penny, despite his arch-nemesis Captain Hammer.  It's both hilarious and thought-provoking.  Side effects can include singing the "Bad Horse Chorus" sotto voce all day.

Friday, January 14, 2011


By request, the CNC machine in all its glory;)
 Since 100 Centavs was curious, I'm putting up a picture of the CNC machine and linking to a blog post by my husband on some jewelry he did for his mom.  The video in that post shows a brief clip of the CNC in action.

I'm not claiming any credit for this machine - my husband put it together entirely by himself.  Being a bookish, non-mechanical kind of person, I am constantly amazed at what handy people like him can put together in their spare time. 

This is a "poor man's" CNC machine.  As I recollect it, he bought a few kits and random parts, scavenged some parts from his parts pile, stuck them all together, built the frame, and made it go.  The result is a CNC machine built for less than $1K.  It's not as precise as the professionally made ones, but it cost about 5% of a bottom of the line pro model.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mid-January Blahs

It's cold down here.  It's been below freezing for the past few nights.  That may not seem very cold to people in northern climes, but consider that I live in a 100+ year old house that was built to make Louisiana summers bearable.  Weather-tight, it isn't.  My heater has run constantly for the last three days to keep my house at what it claims is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but is actually more like 70 degrees at thermostat level and 60 degrees at lounging level.  And I swear that if I wet my feet, they might stick to the floor.

For me, cold = sloth.  All I want to do is stay curled up in bed under my electric blanket.  I haven't done Flylady routines this week, or really anything beyond the minimum necessary to sustain animal and human survival.

Also, somehow, we're 60% through the food budget and only 40% through the month.  And I just discovered that we need to pay the generator people $800 for the next two years service.  It's going to be another month of dipping into the EF, which is much smaller than it used to be since paying off my big family debt.

I am still working on clearing out the closets.  I'm obviously stuck on this one step, and I can't decide whether to skip it and move along or keep plugging away at it.  The more I dig into it, the more obvious it becomes to me that it really needs to be done, but the bigger the task looms.  I knew I had started late on Out With the Old, so I would finish after the new year, but at this rate, I'll be done with the list in 2012.

I am incredibly blessed.  Unlike the majority of people on this earth, I have food security, shelter, and a reasonable expectation of personal safety.  I'm not in Haiti, living in a tent, and waiting for the rapists to come with the darkness.  I'm not in China, where the police detain you for visiting the parent of a democracy activist, then threaten to beat you to death

But what am I doing with all these blessings?  Worrying about a messy kitchen and excess money?  Surely I can do better than this.  How do you reconcile the incredible blessings in your life with the incredible suffering that exists in the world?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Goats

The new fencing at our farm allows us to run the goats on areas that were previously outside the fence boundaries.  This is the first time this area has been grazed in at least a decade - this is what happy goats look like!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Handmade Jewelry

Unknown Hardwood, Finished with Wax
Here is our first try at handmade jewelry.  The wood is about 1/2" in diameter.  We carved the cross using a CNC machine, hand finished and waxed it, hand drilled the sterling silver circle at the top, added the link for the necklace, and put it on a bought sterling silver serpentine chain.

Bloodwood, finished with varnish
Here is version 2, with the same design, but done in Bloodwood and varnished instead of waxed.  The varnish makes it more water resistant (you can shower with it) and shinier.

Based on a perusal of etsy, I'm guessing that this is about a $15 item, including the shipping and chain.  Does that seem reasonable to you?  Which version do you like better?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sayonara SmartyPig

There were 2 emails from SmartyPig in my inbox today.  Email # 1 announced that they were again cutting their rates, this time to 1.35% APR.  Email #2 asked me to spam all my friends about SmartyPig, with the promise of $25 to me should any of them create an account.

Let me get this straight SmartyPig.  You've changed your APR to the same rate that I get from Discover, and you want me to spam my friends about it?  What exactly am I going to say "Here's a savings account that makes you jump through a ton of hoops for the same APR as everyone else.  You gotta get you some of that?"  Give me a break.

For 1.75% APR, I was willing to put up with their site's eccentricities, but for 1.35%, I'll be closing out my account and moving everything to Discover.   There's not much in there at the moment anyway since most of my cash went to paying off a large debt to a family member,and it will be much simpler to build my new ef in a bank account that allows you to make deposits and withdrawals easily.

SmartyPig is not a bad deal for everyone.  They do offer a psychologically larger barrier to raiding the ef kitty, as you have to close out an entire goal to move the money into your checking account.  Additionally, multiple goals are easy to set up.  They also offer gift cards in lieu of cash that give you a bit of value over the amount you have saved.  However, these aren't things that I value, so I'm going back to Discover's plain vanilla account.

Do you currently have a SmartyPig account?  Are you planning to retain it?  Why or why not?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How cheap am I?

My mom accidentally bought a queen-sized fitted sheet from Bed, Bath, and Beyond a month ago for her king sized bed.  Of course, by the time she realized the problem, she had thrown away all the packaging and the receipt.  So I went to Bed, Bath , and Beyond to return it, and got

(1) credit back for the price of the sheet

(2) free shipping for the king sized version because the store was out of stock

(3) 20% off using one of their ubiquitous coupons

(4) less tax charged because my house is outside the city limits.
(I think I get bonus cheap points for noticing the tax difference)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Inexpensive Hair Routine for Swimmers

If your New Year's resolution involves working out in the pool, you need to be extra careful of your hair.  After the first two months of swimming this summer, my hair was wretched.  It was frizzy and sticky with buildup, so much so that I had to buy a wide tooth comb because I couldn't get a brush through it.  You don't want to end up with hair like this - it is really nasty.

I went online and searched around, but the specialized shampoos and conditioners for swimmers started at about $.80 / oz and went up from there.  I knew I could maintain my hair for much cheaper than that, so I started trying products from my local dollar stores until I found something that worked.  My hair is now completely back to normal, and I get compliments on how shiny it is all the time.

Here is my routine:

Before Swimming
(1) Wet hair
(2) Wring out hair
(3) Apply a quarter-sized amount of Mane 'n Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner to hair.
(4) Cover hair with swim cap.

After Swimming
(1) Rinse Mane 'n Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner out of hair
(2) Shampoo with Tresemme Shampoo European Deep Cleansing (All Types).  When I was first removing the buildup from my hair, I would leave it in for a minute, but now I just apply and rinse out immediately.
(3) Condition again with Mane 'n Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner.  I like to leave it in for at least two minutes.

If you're a real coupon-savvy, sale-minded shopper, you can probably do better than my prices on these.  I like coupons, but I'm OK with getting quality products at consistent low prices.
Tresemme Shampoo European Deep Cleansing (All Types) - $.13 /oz (Dollar General for $3 + tax for 25 oz).

Mane 'n Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner - $.17 /oz
(Winn-Dixie for $5 + tax for 32 oz).

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Slow and Steady Savings Still Pays ... If Your Job Has Good Perks

The Wall Street Journal has an article today entitled Slow and Steady Saving Still Pays.  According to the article, you'd have made money over the last 10 years investing in the Vanguard 500 (a low-cost, S&P 500 index fund) in your 401K.  Their example was a person saving 6% of a $40K salary in a 401K with a 3% employer match, and a 3% raise every year, who made about $52,000 on an investment of $30,470, or 170.66%.  Their numbers are correct for their given assumption.

Their assumption, however, is crap.  Do you know anyone who has had a 3% raise every year for the last 10 years?  Heck, do you even know anyone who has had a 3% employer IRA match consistently for the last 10 years?  I don't.  I graduated from college in December 1999, and myself and my contemporaries'  employment experience has been a hodgepodge of jobs, several (mostly) short periods of inadvertent unemployment, few if any raises, and stingy employer IRA matches.  In fact, neither my husband nor I has ever, in our entire working lives, had an employer match of any kind for our IRAs.

In the real world:
(1) Vanguard 500 has and initial minimum of $3K, so it's 15 months before there are enough funds to invest in it.

(2) There's a $20 fee for every purchase (at least at Scottrade, where I am looking), so the original investment is only $2980.  On March 1, 2002 (15 months after you start saving) buy at the opening price of 104.62.

(3)Only an idiot would invest in $200 increments because the $20 fee is 10% of the investment right off the top.  Figure that it sits in the IRA as cash until a reasonable sum accumulates.  Let's say $1000 at a time (every 5 months) at opening price of that month.

(4) Even with 2 recessions, assume a saver dedicated enough to put $200 / month into a 401K every month and lucky enough to have the income to qualify for that for all 10 years.

(5) Today, the account would be worth around $25,838*, of which $23,800 was the original investment.  Gain: $2038 over 10 years.

(6) That's 108.56% above the initial investment, which doesn't sound bad until ...

(7) you realize that most investment guidelines assume an 8% annual return.  Using that model, there should be about $34,767, or 146.08% of your investment.  The account is $8929 short.

Bonus Question for Math Geeks: What post-inflation, after fee rate of return would your $25,838 need to make for the next ten years to have the $70,059 (in 2010 dollars) an average 8% annual rate of return from 2000 - 2020 would predict?  How likely is that in a moderate risk portfolio?

(Answers: approximately 11.25% and not very likely at all)

*I could not find the dividend data for 10 years in Vanguard 500.  I found a website that told me that the average dividend over the past 5 years was 2%, so I used that number for the last 10 years.  Also, the fees are low enough at 18 basis points that I did not bother to calculate them in.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Goals

Here we go ...

1) Religious/Spiritual 
     A) Continue to Tithe - one of my big wins in 2010, let's keep the streak going!
     B) Start a daily religious practice - I tried to get really specific about this last year, and ended up burning out. Rather than setting up a to do list, I want to give myself 15 minutes a day where I pray, meditate, read the bible, write in a gratitude journal, sing, or do whatever the spirit moves me to do that day.  Once this is a regular activity, I'll see where my spiritual journey needs to go.

2) Health
     A) Eat within my Weight Watchers points every day - I weighed 169 lbs on the scale yesterday, which puts me 21 pounds over my "thin" weight and 12 pounds over my lifetime weight.  Rather than worry about a time line and a weight goal, I'm just going to eat right and exercise.  I'll re-evaluate in March - if I'm not losing weight, I'll worry about it then.  On that note ...
     B) i. Exercise six days a week - I have Judo 2x a week.  I'll go to the gym the other 4, even if it's just for a light, 20 minute swim.  A sub-goal, because I am this anal, is to ii. make the check-in list at my gym every month.  To get on the list, I must check in at least 17 times a month.

3) Financial
     A) Have a side business (or multiple) netting 1K a month before taxes by December 2011  I've got several ideas on this front, from farm eggs to online jewelry.  I need to just keep plugging away at it until I find something(s) that works.  More on this as events develop.
    B) Fully Fund 2011 Roth IRAs Needed - 10K, currently have 0K - see 3A
    C)  Save in anticipation of (hopefully very temporary) loss of primary income.  It's coming.  The more I can cut from the budget, and the more I can sock away, the longer we'll have before we have to make desperation kinds of decisions.

4) Dreams
     A) Get the farm books in order, facilitate farm improvements, and manage the goats.This year, I am going to take over the farm bookkeeping.  This will free up my Mom to assist the new farm manager into transitioning into his duties, incorporate the new 152 acres into the property, and work on a national lecture tour, which is one of her big dreams.  She's actually speaking at the 2011 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Tennessee later this month, her first national conference.  I also need to manage the goats more closely.  We've been in growth mode on the herd for a long time, but now it's time to maintain what we have and begin to cull the bottom 10% and replace it with better genetics.  This will require near-daily monitoring to watch for health problems, as well as miscarriages and stillbirths.  It will also require meticulous record keeping.
     B) Begin again on piano  Talked to my dad about this today and we are going to get started again.  My goal is still to be able to accompany at my church on the piano when our current organist is out of town, busy, or sick (our back-up organist is very talented, but she's over eighty, and won't be around forever).
     C) Re-connect with my Chinese friend  We got busy and it stopped happening, but she's a sweetie and I need to spend more time with her.  Also, it's fun to speak Chinese, at least until I run out of words :)

5) Prosaic
     1) Practice with my carry firearms at least once a month This was a big fail for me last year.  I was late getting my Louisiana permit application in last year (long story), so I don't have a valid carry permit and probably won't get one until mid-March at the earliest.  The silver lining is that this gives me time to brush up before I am carrying again.
     2) Consistently do Flylady routines.  Last year, I decided to give up having a housekeeper and do my house myself.  When I follow her routines reasonably consistently, my house is acceptably neat.  I am not trying for Martha Stewart neat, just reasonably not dirty.

In an effort to give myself some accountability, I'm going to review these goals monthly on the first of every month.  Wish me luck (and good health too, please).