I am setting my goals for 2021, and I’m using already-established headings that work well for me. First up for today’s post? Finances.
Overall, I would say I feel a bit guilty about our financial situation. Survivor guilt in a way, particularly given where we work and what we see some of the clients having to deal with during the pandemic and how badly certain sectors are decimated. Working for government, we’re probably immune to the cutbacks for some time since it is our groups that are responding to some of the needs, but a few years after, everyone expects the cuts to take effect then to get deficits under control. In the meantime, our finances are in pretty good shape. The down-side of the pandemic is we are not going anywhere or doing anything; the upside is we are not going anywhere or doing anything that costs much money, so we have some extra money saved for when the world does open up again. And overall, it’s not a big category. Things are going relatively well for us on this front, no “big” concerns.
But each year, I tend to do some pretty advanced social planning for attending potential plays and shows around town. Multiple theatres, multiple types of shows, etc. And when COVID hit, I had a lot of shows that were cancelled, leading to refunds and credits. For the credits, once the world opens up again, I can book new shows. Obviously not a short-term priority, but it’s on my list.
I also have some minutiae to handle under a general heading of “clean-up”. This includes a credit from Rogers that didn’t get processed properly. How excited do you think I am to deal with THAT mess, even though it means money for me? There’s also an old health claim where something “bounced” in the claim process, so I have to resubmit, and of course, some new health claims to submit for 2020. I also want to go through and clean up some credit card consolidation. We don’t owe anything on them, it’s just that we use one that gets us grocery store points (PC) but if I never really use them these days, is that really worth it? And why have other cards we never use? Eventually I’ll request an updated credit report and see if there are any gremlins in there. Two other areas for clean-up are updating my will (mainly for catastrophic loss if all three of us are killed at once) and better coordination of various gift cards that I haven’t used yet.
The real “work” to be done in this area though is retirement planning. We have a bunch of RRSPs, we have our big pensions with the government, but we haven’t done much else for sophisticated planning. We did a plan a number of years ago, and it was fine for what it was and for the time we did it. More about cost planning and general revenues than investment vehicles. But I also have a pension buyback to do so that I can retire in 2025. There are a number of ways to process that, including financing it through payroll deduction or transferring it from my RRSPs, but we’ll see which is a better configuration with some other options. We need to do a meeting with a new financial advisor, and while we did some initial reaching out at the start of the pandemic, we stalled back in August.
The reason was pretty silly, in a way. One of the obvious questions for retirement planning is what are we going to do in retirement, and so Andrea and I had a conversation during our vacation in the summer about a whole bunch of places we would like to go and live for a week, 2 weeks, a month, maybe 2-3 months even, during our retirement. Possibly while keeping our house, maybe renting it out, maybe selling it and being homeless while we rent in multiple short-term places. Some of it depends on when Andrea retires, our overall health then, etc. But we made a list. Or rather, I wrote down the list, put it away safe, and promptly forgot WHERE I PUT IT! Kind of hard to submit the forms to our financial advisor if I’m missing the major “abnormal” expense from our plan.
I couldn’t find it. I was convinced I wrote it in a notebook that I had with me at the time, but it wasn’t there. Andrea remembered me writing it on loose paper, so I thought maybe I stuck it in as a bookmark in some books. Nope. Not in 2-3 other notebooks that are frequent companions. Not in my big shoulder bag, not with my laptop, not with my obvious loose planning papers. Not with my financial stuff. WHAT THE **** did I do with it? Well, I put it away somewhere safe. I folded it over, small piece of paper, and put it in my small shoulder bag. The one that use when I go shopping or to a coffee shop. You know, the things I am not doing now. And I put it in a small pocket that I never use. Because that was a safe place to put it where it wouldn’t get lost or destroyed or misfiled. Well, I was right. It didn’t get any of those things. But I was cleaning out the bag the other day for pens or highlighters and things that don’t need to be in there since I’m not using it, and Bam! There it was. Son of a fudgsicle. Okay, back on track.
We can do the retirement planning and fill out the docs. We can have a retirement planning meeting. And I can decide how I’m financing my pension buyback. I even have a great book about types of activities in retirement to help me refine my thinking (The One Thing), with a nice cross-walk to the type of fitness needs that go along with them.
So you often see a joke about to do lists that the first thing on the to do list is to make a to do list. And some of this category is simply that…a category for getting organized that lists how I’m getting myself organized. Not competely, but somewhat. In some years, it has literally meant doing this big list for the year. Doing my review of last year, focusing on the future for my goals, communicating my intentions to the universe. But that’s done as soon as I press publish, so hardly worth mentioning.
For those who are friends with me on Facebook, you have likely noticed that I regularly share some of my favourite comics. I get most of them through one specific site, and I never really feel like I’m well-organized for those feeds. I can make it highly personalized, even deleting or adding on a daily basis if I wanted to, or reading online instead of through my email, but I like getting the email feeds. And so I went through and reorganized them recently. It’s done, but officially I guess it was part of this year’s plan. To the extent it is a continuing item, the “to do” portion is that I continue to share them and file the old ones away in my computer. Just cuz I can, not because I need them per se. Although I did get behind at one point in my feed, and so I have a bit of a comics reading backlog sitting there that I can go through at some point too. I may just delete them, haven’t decided yet. Not exactly a priority.
This is a slightly weird category. It doesn’t particularly fit anywhere else, and it is about various activities that I want to do on a pro-active basic but more almost one-off things than tied to a category. I could count it as a “medium-term bucket list” of sorts, but perhaps more like “superficial bucket list”.
For example, I bought a Raspberry Pi kit awhile back and I am hoping to turn it into a portable gaming system or something cool like that. I bought a bunch of parts, but I never really made time to do it, thought perhaps J might be interested but he isn’t really. Instead, it is just a project for me to do by myself. Part of a new focus on crafting. I also have a robot to assemble, but I’ll do that one with Jacob.
Before COVID hit, I was thinking about taking archery lessons or trying axe-throwing. Not so much right now, obviously. I also want to learn how to play the piano, but I suspect that will be more online stuff with YouTube and books than taking formal lessons. It would be a good activity for the pandemic, just haven’t got around to it yet.
I mentioned above that I have a drone stored in my alcove, and I’m hoping to fly it properly at some point. The main challenge is getting it going without banging into a tree. I’ve tried 3-4 times, and what I really need is a bunch of open space to get the controls properly balanced. I have a friend who apparently flies drones and I’m hoping he’ll take me out some time to show me how to fly it. After that, the world will be open to me. Or at least within the range of the drone. It has a small camera in it, so I’m hoping to use it for practical things like checking out shingles on the roof as well as taking pics of the cottage and lake from the sky, or even some observing sites.
One thing in the list that seems almost silly to have on a list but I added it a long time ago from a list of activities for fun you could do in winter. It’s NOT complicated, requires almost no planning at all, and I hadn’t
haven’t done it — make a snow angel. Stay tuned for an update on this one.
So what else is in this category? Plant something and grow it, possibly flowers, possibly vegetables. I’ve never really purposefully planned to plant something and grown it. Not really, little things here and there. More as a lark than a plan.
Way back when I got married, I tried to do indoor go-karts for my bachelor party, but the plan didn’t work out. So it’s been on my list for coming up on 13 years.
Another item is partly for interest and partly for research for writing, but I’d like to do a ride along with police for an evening or two.
A last one to include, and I’m not even sure what I mean exactly, is to run a 3D printer. I have an idea for some astro gear that I’d like to print, the files are available online (some free, some not), and I’d like to play with the files and print them. The reason I am not sure what I mean by doing this is I don’t know if I want my own 3D printer (which would allow me to print a whole bunch of parts for board games for Jacob as well as astro tools, some other crafting things, etc.), or if I just want to go commercial (I’ve printed a focus knob for my scope at a small industrial shop in Nepean, although not likely to be able to tweak it much nor do stuff on the fly), or if I want to get set up at one of the maker spaces. Sure, I would love to have my own 3D printer, and I *know* a guy with a 3D printer, I just don’t know if I would use it enough to make it worthwhile. I’m tempted when everything is all over to call the guy with the printer, go for an afternoon with some design ideas, and see how it all works.
As a small aside, I find the business model for 3D printers somewhat amusing. You can buy them all ready to go, OR, just for fun, you can buy a kit and assemble it yourself. I think this is one of those tests for irony. If you aren’t buying the kit to put it together yourself, maybe you shouldn’t be thinking about buying a 3D printer to make a whole bunch of things to make yourself. And yet, I’d rather buy it preassembled and ready to go than to futz around with leveling and particle nozzles the first few times.
I have a few other projects on the go too, but they fall under other categories I think.
What am I going to do in January?
So that’s my big list for the year. What am I going to include for January?
- Start filling out the retirement planning docs
- Sort out my comics feed
- Make a snow angel
Do you have any plans this year for finances, organizing yourself, and/or one-off special activities?