April 18, 2010

Little steps

Given we've whizzed through a third and a bit of the year already, I thought it might be helpful to revisit my yearly goals (the radical thought being that paying attention to them during the year helps keep them on track!).

So back in December this is what I had to say about my 2010 goals.

So how have I done so far?

1. Writing

Obviously the big achievement for the year has been selling a book (it still seems quite surreal to say that!) so that started the year off right. But it also changed my plans as I now have official deadlines etc to meet and will have a whole lot of extra stuff to do. So the new goals are to meet my deadlines (beat them if I can) and still try and write some extra bits and pieces and enjoy the process : ) I've been working away at book 2 while I'm waiting for my revisions, so I'm on track so far!

2. Get healthier. So far mostly good. I've lost about 6 kilos this year but will confess to falling off the exercise wagon in the last four weeks or so (a combination of post book sale adrenaline crash and being crook and day job getting a bit crazy). But this week I started again with baby steps and next week will get back on the elliptical. I'd gotten up to week 7 on c25k, so might have to back track a bit. One thing I realised in getting to that point was that I vastly prefer interval runs on the elliptical and the last few weeks of the program are pretty much three long runs a week so I might do a variation where I do 2 interval runs and 1 longer steady state run a week. Not sure why but it's easier for me to do 30 mins of intervals than 30 mins of "just run". So let's go with what works. The shoulder which was bugging me most of last year has been a lot better but not perfect which is making it hard to pick up other things again but I'll keep working on it. And I've gotten back into tracking my food this week too after having my adsl out for 11 days got me out of that habit.

3. Filling the well. Still doing bits and pieces of craft and relaxation so that's good.

4. Organisation. This was definitely a 'needs improvement' area from last year. So I've been taking small steps there too. Trying to get my routines back in place to get my little house ticking over nicely and declutter. I mostly use Flylady's techniques with a few variations of my own as I'm a big fan of the do things in little bits and pieces and build up habits approach. Plus the whole "just get back on the wagon whereever you are" is a good thing to remember in most areas of life. Things (the To-Do program I blogged about back then) has been really good for me in keeping things more organised, so that's a Yay. I haven't been using Tumblr or Evernote quite as much as I probably could but I still really like both of them.

The other area I'm reorganising is my finances. Given I'll have some writing income (yay), I have a need to be paying closer attention. One day I'd like to be a full time writer which will mean living on unpredictable and variable income so time to really knuckle down and get good habits in place.

A few years back I was using Quicken and doing okay with tracking everything but then the day job decided we couldn't put any additional software on our work computers and I was on a Mac at home (and they don't sell Quicken for Mac in Australia) and at the time, there wasn't anything much around that worked well for me Mac software-wise so I went back to just keeping tabs on things on paper (after all, I am an accountant and a Virgo so I had to use something). But keeping it on paper is kind of tedious and leads to a "well, let's put some money aside for various big bills" and the rest is just a big pile of money approach to finance (at least, for me it does). Which doesn't really work for either personal or business finances and leads to much time being put in at tax time to file and organise all the business stuff (of course with Flylady back in place I'll be filing all along this year ; ) ).

Luckily, a piece of software I'd looked at and liked back then (that didn't have a Mac version at the time) called YNAB (or You Need A Budget) which combines both register type functions like Quicken etc with sensible, zero based budgeting has recently brought out their Mac version so I've put that into place. The only thing it doesn't do quite as fancily as Quicken is reporting but it does export to excel and I can produce all the fancy reports I want for tax purposes etc from there, so that's good enough for me (if it turns out I need something fancier down the line I'll address that with something else like Moneydance or iBank or whatever is needed and use it just for the writing side of my finances). This is not a personal finance blog so I won't rave on about how much I already like the YNAB methodology for really making you pay attention to what you are and aren't doing with your money but it's well worth checking out if you are interested in that sort of thing. They have lots of resources on the site about budgeting etc that you can read and access without buying the software (which is much cheaper than Quicken etc anyway) if it is something that interests you.

The other thing I'll be doing is seeing an accountant. Yes, I am an accountant but I am NOT a tax accountant or a day to day running a business type accountant so I'll be getting advice up front to confirm (and hopefully improve on) what I think I need to do business-wise. I'm lucky in that I do understand the business side of things given my background but I also know enough to know what I don't know and that I'll need advice. Writer's income with royalties and overseas income and things like income averaging is not straightforward and I'm sure now that I'm actually earning some proper income over and above the odd comp win, there are probably more deductions I can claim. Getting advice now and using an expert will save me/make me money over time (much the same way having an agent does : ) ). To any writer (whether pubbed or pursuing it seriously) I'd say you need to know about the business stuff and keep good records (In Australia you can claim your expenses before publication, and I think the same is true in the US, but there are rules and things you need to do to not fall foul of the Tax Department/IRS so get advice! Which this is not). So you either do it yourself or farm it out to someone else if it's not your thing (and get advice either way!)

So my goals for organisation are to keep Flylady habits going and keep the finance tracking/systems going (including said accountant consultation/s once I get a cheque).

So all, in all, I think I'll give myself a green light so far. Even though I haven't been perfect (and really, life isn't perfect so it's not that big a deal, I've been moving forward and making the changes I want to make. So now I can keep taking little steps and getting to where I want to go over the next few months!

4 comments:

Keziah Hill said...

Gee your post comes at a good time for me. I've just decided to take 6-9 months off paid work.Very exciting but very scary. Thanks for the budget software link. Now off to watch Dr Who!

Mel said...

Oh, that is exciting!! But yes, requires good budgeting!
It will be fab, Keziah, I'm jealous : )

Taytay said...

I'm the programmer of YNAB, and I was excited to read your comments about our software! Thanks for spreading the word, and I wish you continued budgeting success!

Mel said...

Thanks! I think it's a great program. Can't wait for the iPhone app!