OK, first lets see how we did against last year’s resolutions….
- Lose 15 pounds. Hmmm, this one’s been on the list since 1992. An oldie but goodie that I will unfortunately have to carry over into 2008.
- Lower my stress level, and try to be a kinder and more appreciative human being. Whew, definitely didn’t make a lot of headway here. Glad I have another year to sort this out.
- Quit Whining so much. Also a work in progress.
- End global warming by developing a” zero emissions” automobile powered by mosquito blood and the annoying plastic packaging my Christmas gifts came in. Well, at least I accomplished one thing on my list!
OK, while I might not have done a good job on the above resolutions, I am pleased to report that over the past few years I have take a few actions that have made my life a lot easier. Excuse my pontification, but here are a few random tips that made my life better, and might work for you in the New Year if you are already not doing them.
- Get your financial affairs in order and quit wasting money. Debt is slavery, and can often lead otherwise sane and wonderful people to act like Weasels. Despite what they would have you believe, credit card and loan companies are not your friends. If you have debt for something other than your house, resign yourself to do everything you can do to pay it off during the coming year. Do not borrow money for televisions or new cars – watch the old TV and drive the old car until you can afford to pay cash for a new one! Max out your 401k program – for most people it is free money and the highest return available. Operate within a budget, and you will be amazed at the freedom you will ultimately earn. If you can’t control your spending – get rid of the credit cards that lure you in. If you do pay off cards every month – get the best financial card possible. There are many great cash “rebate” cards out there now that pay you back 1-3%, and carry no fee. (I am a fan of the Chase Freedom card – but there are many good ones – check at bankrate.com). I also saved several hundred dollars last year using online shopping rebate sites like ebates.com and fatwallet.com. They send you a check just for using them the access the same online shopping sites you are probably already using.
- Walk thirty minutes or more a day. Clear your head, see the city, get in shape, cut down on dangerous carbon emissions – the benefits of a long daily walk are endless. I started walking an hour or more a day seven or eight years ago, and I can’t think of a more simple but effective thing that has improved my life. (Side benefit – you can have wine and dessert with dinner without ballooning to 300 lbs.) Every morning I strap on my iPod (loaded with a few favorite Podcasts if I am not in a music mode), and explore the city on my way to work.
- Devote a little of your time to something you believe in. Taking a little time out to help a charity or cause you believe in puts the soul in order – it’s a win/win for you and the charity.
- Get involved politically this year. Good timing! Though I certainly have my strong opinions about the direction the world should take – I am not going to take this space to promote any particularly political cause except to advocate “getting educated and involved”. Unfortunately politics has turned into a marketing game. Just as I am skeptical about any advertising – I also regard political advertising and the biased news coverage that surrounds it with a skeptical eye. There are plenty of great resources that will really tell you where the candidates stand. Read up on them and vote your heart. Politicians work for us – and we need to tell them what we want. If we don’t, we get what we deserve. And hopefully we can all agree that it is essential to direct government at the really enormous problems that confront us; environmental issues, healthcare, government for the people and not for major corporations, and compassionate leadership that brings us all together.
- And speaking of environmental issues… Do a few simple things today to help out. Leave the car and take a walk (see point 2 above). Install at least 4 CLF bulbs in your house as a replacement for your traditional light bulbs. You can buy great CFLs in many different configurations at almost any hardware store. Plant a tree if you have room. Cut down on your use of plastics. Support candidates that support the environment. Every bit helps.