Tag Archives: new year resolutions

Are You Prepared for Another New Year?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result, but expecting a different one!”

While scholars don’t agree on who actually to attribute this quote to — or even the verbatim wording of it — the meaning is still the same. 

Many times, we repeat the same things; doing things the same way, over and over, and then get disappointed when we continue to get the same, undesirable results. It can be hard, and even challenging to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working. And then it’s not always easy to make the kind of changes necessary to get back on track.

Every year, typically sometime between New Year’s Eve and early January, many people look back on the year that is gone, evaluate what they’ve accomplished and where they feel they fell short; and then vow to make changes to achieve more of their goals or keep more of their resolutions in the new year.

Eat better. Sleep more. Worry less. Exercise regularly. Read a good book. Stay in touch with old friends. Spend quality time with family. Work towards that promotion. Save for that first home; that next home — maybe even your dream home. There’s always a mental and most of the time, also a physical list of things we set our sights on — wanting to do better with the good; and do less of the bad.

Forming healthy habits is a good thing.  Surrounding yourself with close friends, having a positive daily routine, and living your life in the best possible way physically, financially, and spiritually are all excellent attributes of a healthy lifestyle. But when something happens to disrupt one or more of these things, it isn’t wise to continue going through life as if nothing’s changed.

Life is full of unexpected surprises and unplanned stops in the middle of places you never imagined ending up. How do you adjust to these new circumstances; things that weren’t a part of your life plans?

If you’ve been through a divorce or the loss a spouse, you know what it’s like to suddenly find yourself adjusting to having only one income; cancelling travel plans; contemplating how and with whom you’ll spend the holidays, and other changes suddenly thrust on you.

Perhaps your spouse carried you on their insurance, and now you’re having to pay for your own, along with the mortgage, and that new car that at the time seemed like a good idea. Maybe you’re among the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their jobs during the Coronavirus pandemic. The unemployment check didn’t cover all of your expenses, and you still haven’t found another job that pays the same wages you had before. Or the doctor called to confirm your worst fears of a medical diagnosis. Your high school son just told you his girlfriend is pregnant, or your college daughter just announced she no longer believes in the God who she was raised knowing.

While we can’t control many of the circumstances that may happen to us, we can control elements of how we prepare to take on those events when they do happen. Being prepared for life’s unexpected turns means being willing to create a plan now, so that you are where you need to be, have what you need to have, or are on your way to accomplishing steps to help you when a crisis enters your life.

I’m not suggesting that the impact of what may happen in life can be softened if there’s a good plan in place; as if planning keeps us from experiencing the pain of a broken relationship, the grief of the loss of a loved one, the agony of an unproductive job search, and many other things that come along.

But planning may help prepare one to make the most out of the new life’s circumstance — adjusting to their new normal; even if “normal” is for now, and not necessarily forever.

So what do I mean by that?

Start by outlining a Preparation Plan that lists life-changing things that could happen, and how you would be able to deal with them. Everyone’s list will be different and will depend largely on where you are in life. A mom of three young children may need to focus on her kid’s safety, well-being and their future. Whereas a single career woman may be more concerned about her financial stability (in the absence of a spouse’s income) in the event of a job loss. A retired empty-nester may need to be more concerned about living on a fixed income and the markets’ impact on their retirement.

People who live in cold-weather regions, the kind of places that are also prone to lots of snow, would be foolish to live as though they’ll never need a snow shovel, working flashlights and/or candles, and maybe even an alternate heat source. And who would move to Minneapolis in January, packing only their July Miami Beach outfits?

So what can you do now? Here are some of the things you might want to consider for your Preparation Plan, and implementing.

  • Make saving money each month a regular practice, so that you have a savings and an emergency fund. Create it, and don’t spend it.
  • Manage or eliminate your debt. This will also help you have more to save or invest.
  • Spend within or below your means. {See above}
  • Keep your resume updated, and never stop networking within your industry.
  • Make out a will and have an estate plan so that your spouse/children/parents don’t have to spend time in probate if you pass.
  • Take out a life insurance policy (and make sure your spouse has one) that covers your funeral costs so that your family doesn’t go in debt to pay for it.
  • Encourage your parents and single adult children to also have life insurance. Don’t assume they’re covered at work.
  • If you’re married, make sure you are involved with all of the business part of the marriage — know where all of the paperwork is and what insurance companies, banks, investment firms, social security, etc. you need to contact, should your spouse pass away or leaves.
  • If you’re single, create a document and leave with a very trusted family member or friend, that outlines all of the necessary contact information (your primary care doctor, workplace supervisor, banking information, mortgage or rental information, utility companies, and anyone else family may need to contact, should you become medically or psychologically incapacitated and unable to keep up with bill payments and other important transactions due to being in a hospital.

This is not a doomsday list, but rather a reality check. No one is promised another day or hour. If we could see into the future we’d avoid all of the pitfalls — choose an alternate route to work to avoid the accident; become more serious about our fitness and nutrition to avoid getting that health-related medical call; turn down that first date with the wrong person who would later leave and break our heart. We can’t see into the future anymore than we can change the past. But in the present, we can prepare for outcomes to better help us be able to survive; smart planning for whatever happens next.

Why You Should Make a Plan to Get Prepared this Year

Last month I started seeing commercials from a popular grocery store chain advertising several  non-perishable items. It wasn’t a standard store advertisement about the latest promotion, sale, or couponing opportunity. To paraphrase the tagline for this campaign, it was about stocking up the pantry with essential items (canned goods, bottled water, etc.) to remain prepared. I think one of the line was “Winter’s coming. Be prepared.”  It caught my attention because it’s the same thing I’ve been saying for years. Last year’s unexpected winter ice storm that hit the South, definitely caught many of my college students off guard and unprepared. Some people, however, feel that if they don’t live in tornado alley, along a hurricane coastline, have a house at the lake, or live in the upper Midwest during the winter months, then they don’t have to worry about weather related issues. The truth is that a natural disaster can strike at any time, almost anywhere. But it still surprises me how many people don’t take that reality very seriously; some just refusing to take the time to plan ahead.

So as I’ve been watching the news coverage of the flooding in Missouri over the Christmas holidays, I was reminded of the Nashville floods of 2010, and watching the creeks around my neighborhood flowing over and covering streets and highways. And hearing of people trapped in their homes; some calling out for help because they had children in the home, but no groceries in the house. Who knew that just five years later, I’d be watching the same thing happening to my hometown of Columbia, SC, including my college alma mater (University of SC). Two days into the flooding they were on a boil water advisory due to contamination of their water supply. After checking up on several friends, I learned some were without both water and electricity.

My sister woke up to discover her house completely surrounded by water, with both streets into the neighborhood flooded over. She and her boys were trapped for a few days. But because of our upbringing, she was prepared, having gone shopping the day before after hearing of the possibility of excessive rainfall and flash flooding. She was fortunate to have only lost power for a couple of hours, and not a couple of days, as some did. I wasn’t surprised at her level of readiness.

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I contacted a high school friend of mine after the worst part of the flooding event was over, and asked her to share with me her family’s story of how she prepared for that October event.

I’m typing this on my tablet as I sit under the hair dryer at my beautician, which is where I was when I really started paying attention to the weather reports.

My husband and I had talked earlier in the day and he told me he would go to the grocery store and pick up some things. When I got home late that evening, I found he had picked up a few things, but not enough to be stuck inside for a couple of days. So by the time we went back to the store that Saturday morning, the only bread left were a few packs of hamburger buns. The checkout lines were down the aisles; but we got what we needed.

Since our water supply comes from a well and not the city we made sure we had enough bottled water, because we knew if the power went out, the pump wouldn’t be able to pump water for us. So I also filled up one of the bathtubs, along with some jugs with water to be able to flush toilets. You gotta be able to use the bathroom, right?

While I was never a girl scout, my daughter was, and her troop leader had taught them a lot of survival skills. Having to prepare for this weather was kind of like preparing to go camping; primitive camping. You have a checklist of things you need: sleeping bags, tent, snacks, flashlight, lanterns (the wind up, battery-operated kind) oil, and a Coleman. 

By Sunday morning, when I heard church services were cancelled, I realized how bad it was in some places. Although we were blocked in due to streams and creeks flowing over the bridges we needed to cross to get out, our area of town was basically ok. We experienced no loss of power, had safe water supply, and our house did not flood.  The only ting we need was some roof work.

We were truly blessed. We had everything we needed. My philosophy is that it is always best to be prepared even if the predictions don’t come to pass. I know there were many people who weren’t, and unfortunately, suffered as a result of it.

My New Year’s wish for everyone reading this is that you make a resolution to make a plan for your life this year. That plan should include things to do to remain prepared in life; prepare for those things which we can do, since there’s certainly many other things that happen that we can not control. Increase your chance to truly have a Happy New Year!

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

 

 

Prepare Yourself for Success!

Today I was reminded why I LOVE customer reward programs and try to remember to use those which I sign up for. Now, I’m not one of those people who sign up for everything (I’ve met some of those people before). And I hate it when my email inbox gets flooded with offer after offer from some companies, once they get my email address. It’s one of the reasons I reserve a specific email address to use whenever I sign up for a new reward program. But any inconvenience that I might endure is still worth it for what I get back in return.

I heard a report on one of the morning programs that over 21% of Americans are members of various reward programs. Unfortunately it went on to say that only about 9% of them actively use their accounts and redeem the offers. In this continually challenging economic times we live in, I am always looking for ways to save money and get something back while doing it, as often as I can. So the concept that people just “don’t” collect on the freebies that are available for them, blows my mind. I may not always remember to redeem everything due to me, but there are certain things that I make a point of always doing to save money now, and be rewarded later. One of those things is using my Kroger Plus card. Sure, there may be other grocery stores any given week that may have certain products on sale or listed for a less expensive price. But I like to look at the overall benefit. For instance, while I get my groceries at a savings by using the card, I also get three cents per gallon off at their gas stations too; and have the ability to build up even more money on that.

So while I was out running errands today, I knew I would pass three different Kroger gas stations in my travels. The first one, just a couple of miles from where I live, was $2.99/gallon. I kept that in mind as I continued my drive, passing a second one at 2.97/gallon, and finally, the third one that was $3.06. After getting my errands done, I knew the route I would take back home — and stopped at the station with $2.97. I was expecting my grocery savings to reveal a 10 cent savings at the pump. But I was even more surprised to learn I actually had accumulated 20 cents. So today, I filled my tank up for only $2.77 a gallon — the same day a news report indicated that gas prices were on the way back up this winter.

Without the rewards program, and searching out the best gas station, I could have easily paid 20-30 cents more per gallon. Those costs really add up when you’re filling up every week!

That’s why I don’t get what people have against signing up for programs like with Krogers. I enjoy knowing I’m saving money when I shop and then again when I get gas. I actually like finding out what kind of surprise awaits me at Panera, where I take several meetings; especially when something comes up on the days I’m a little low on cash. Or getting extra savings at places like CVS, Walgreens, and even the Regal movie theater. Who wouldn’t want to save on a movie ticket, or get a free bag of popcorn at that show you’re already attending?

So if you want to start making some changes that will show up in your bank account, start first by planning ways to save money. It’s been said that “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” One of the ways you can prepare to succeed is to start implementing changes in your life and not just talk about making changes. Sign up for reward cards. Cut coupons.  Shop for bargains. Plan your travels to keep from wasting gas. Do what you have to do to make the kind of changes in your life now, that will result in a better life for you later.

In other words, prepare yourself for success!