My Goals For January 2019 (and why I’m not doing a no-spend month)

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Written By Colin Graves

If you’ve been a long time reader, you’re probably aware that for the past two years, I’ve kicked things off in January with a month long spending freeze.

I affectionately refer to it as my no-spend January, which meant that for 31 days, I didn’t spend a cent on non-essential items.

Not a dime on that daily coffee habit, or eating out, or on any other splurges I could dream up.

If you’re interested in reading more about it, you can check out my summary posts from each year here and here, but if you’re not so ambitious, allow me to summarize.

While my no-spend January was a success both years, I can’t say it was always easy.

Each day required advanced planning, (not something that comes naturally), and there were several moments where I almost caved. But I achieved my goal, in both 2017 and 2018.

The benefits were enormous.

Both years, I reduced my regular monthly spending by over $200.

More importantly, my no-spend months rid me of my very regular Starbucks habit, not to mention my tendency to eat out for lunch at work all too often.

While I did resume spending on non-essentials when the month ended, I had become far more disciplined with my spending throughout the year.

Which is why I’m not attempting a third annual no spend month this January.

No-Spend January Shelved

I toyed with the idea momentarily, but realized that I don’t require the same fiscal motivation to start 2019. In fact, I can’t even recall the last time I bought coffee or lunch during the work week. It’s been months.

Make no mistake, it doesn’t mean I’ve become too cheap to spend a couple bucks.

It’s just that these days, I prefer to reserve those small luxuries to times when I’m out with my wife, or with one of my kids. I’d much rather treat them then use up the funds during my work week.

Ok, so the January no-spend is on hold for 2019. Instead, I’ve created some fresh goals for 2019.

My Goals For January 2019

This year, I’ve created a few goals for the month of January, to start the new year right.

Make no mistake, these are NOT new year’s resolutions.

They may work for some people, but I’ve never been a fan.

These are specific goals, related to activities that I’m already committed to, already doing,

My aim is to up the ante for 31 days, you could call it a ‘hyper-focus’, to elevate my progress at the beginning of the year.

Here are my goals for January 2019, in no specific order:

Earn $1000 of Freelance Income

In June of 2018, I started a freelance business, using many of the skills I’d developed since I began blogging.

Each month, I detail my progress as a freelancer, as well as my other side hustle adventures, in my monthly newsletter, the Mystery Money Insider.

My email subscribers will know exactly what I’m referring to.

While my ifreelance income has been growing, I’ve set a goal to exceed $1000 of income in January, for the first time.

If you want to know how things turn out, or would like to follow my freelance/side hustle adventure, you can sign up for the Mystery Money Insider right here.

Looking for ways to earn more income? Do you dream of escaping the 9-5? I’m on a journey to convert side hustles into a full-time, location independent business, and you can follow along in real time by subscribing to my newsletter. No spam ever. I promise.


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At Least 15 Workouts At The Gym

I’ve never written about this, but a year ago, I slipped and fell on the ice in my driveway as I was leaving for work in the morning.

We’d had an overnight storm, and I was wearing dress shoes that had absolutely no traction.

It was one of those falls where you’re completely horizontal in the air, about three feet off the ground, and it feels like you’re falling in slow motion.

I remember lying there, in the blowing snow, with my father in law and my wife standing over me, asking if I was ok. I was not.

The pain was excruciating.

I did eventually get up and hobble into the house. But the end result was that I had a partial tear of my rotator cuff from landing on my shoulder, and had bruised some ribs that in that moment, I was sure had been broken.

While it wasn’t a serious injury, my shoulder required months of physiotherapy, and I wasn’t pain free until the summer.

I will still require surgery on my shoulder at some point, but because the pain has subsided and it’s no longer hampering my mobility, I’ve decided to hold off for the time being.

Regardless, the injury meant that I was not nearly as active as I should have been for most of 2018.

In November, I finally got back in the gym, and into a regular workout schedule. (As long as I avoid lifting weight over my shoulders, I can workout at full strength).

My overall fitness goal for January is to get in a workout EVERY day , but make it to the gym at least 15 times (every second day).

I’ve already made lots of progress since November, so it shouldn’t be long before I get this 6’ frame back to it’s ideal weight of around 190 lbs.

Put $2000+ Into Savings

Mrs. MMM and I have set a goal to put over $2000 into savings in January, from the following sources:

Freelance Income: $1000

Further to my goal of earning $1000 of freelance income this month, I plan to save 100% of it. (I have saved almost all of my freelance income since I began in June 2018).

Employee Stock Purchase Plan: $800

Each month, approximately $600 goes into an optional employee stock purchase plan at work. This is over and above my pension plan. My employer does a 50% match, so I contribute $200/biweekly, and they contribute an additional $100. Never pass up free money.

At the start of each year however, they match 100% of the first $500 I contribute, so it works out to just over $800 for the month of January.

Budgeted savings: $400

I’m allocating $400 from our regular budget to go into savings in January.

We have a family vacation planned in the early spring (more details to come), so this will go towards spending money while we’re on our trip.

Education Savings: $75

This represents the regular monthly contribution to our kids education savings. I make lump sum contributions periodically, but we’ve been contributing this amount monthly for over 18 years. The power of compound interest is amazing.

Total January savings goal: $2275

We won’t be able to save this amount every month, by any stretch, but if we can hit our savings goal in January, it should set the tone for the rest of the year.

As far as how I’ll invest the funds, most of it remain in cash, as I’ll dollar cost average back into the markets over the next 3-6 months.

Any amounts designated for short term savings will remain in cash of course.


Bottom Line

For 2019, I replaced my previous goal of a no-spend January with monthly goals that are aligned to my priorities, and the priorities of my family at this time.

Stay tuned for a recap in early February, where I’ll let you know how we did!

I’d love to know what goals you’ve set for 2019, or for the month of January for that matter.

Please let me know by commenting below!

2 thoughts on “My Goals For January 2019 (and why I’m not doing a no-spend month)”

  1. Yikes- glad to hear you’ve recovered from your fall! I twisted my ankle running this summer and it had an impact on my already (self) impaired ability to work out for months afterward. Huge bummer. But aside from that, it sounds like you have made some serious progress – bravo! I love the saving goals – between Christmas, my son’s birthday and planning a multi-family vacation for my sister’s 50th birthday, I can only drool at savings figures like that. My January struggle is to have a completely alcohol free month. It may not be the most ambitious goal, but the benefits are multi-layered Happy New Year MMM!

    • Thanks Linda, I feel so much better. I’m very careful with my shoulder, as I’d hate to take a step back in my pursuit of fitness goals. Where are you headed on vacation? That sounds like it will be quite a celebration. Happy New Year!


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