new year, new vorsätze.

52 wk money challenge

I’ve always liked New Year’s resolutions. I cannot say that I’ve been good at keeping them, but I like setting them. It’s the whole “diet starts Monday” clause, but taken to the next level since there’s no “Monday” around the corner. After our self-indulgence over the holidays, we’re ready for change and remembering to now write 2014 everywhere is a good reminder.

In previous years, my struggles to keep my resolutions derive from the newness. The goals I set were simply too ambitious. The changes were extreme. As much as I would like to say I am self-disciplined enough to make several changes at once, I’m just not. This year, I’ve taken five things I already do on occasion, but would like to become more consistent.

Speak and Read German

Oh, German, you little devil you. Upon finishing my required Spanish requisites sophomore year of college, I settled with the fact that I would never speak a foreign language. Three years later, I’m sitting in Germany needing a completely different language. While I am way ahead in German after 2 1/2 years than I ever was in 7 years of school Spanish, I am still miles (or should I say kilometers) from fluency.

My German goal is diving back into the German crime novel, Des Spielers Tod, which was written for English-speakers learning German, and just speaking German. I do speak German, but the second I am at a loss for words I switch to English. It’s time to force myself out of the English comfort zone.

Stretch and Improve Flexibility

Limber has never been used to describe me, and while I don’t think it ever will be, it is time for me to improve my flexibility. I will do this while watching whatever Netflix choice I’ve made for the day.


Winter is not doing my skin any favors. I’ve already made all the necessary purchases: day and night face lotions, body lotion, and hand cream to carry in my purse. Now I just need to fight the chilly temperatures in my room and lather up when I get out of the shower.

52 Week Savings Plan

Currently, my money is much like that episode of “New Girl” with Nick’s brown paper bag of money. I cannot remember my German pin number because I normally do everything in cash and I’ve been too lazy to deal with it. This money challenge is SO doable and sets aside a fun chunk of cash for the end of the year.

Mail Birthday Cards

I think mail is one of the most exciting things to receive these days and I really love sending German birthday cards to friends and family in the USA. I do it every now and then, and this now and then depends on whether I have stamps or not. This year, I bought a set of stamps so I have no excuse not to send birthday wishes.

What do you resolve for 2014?

  • Amanda

    I love, love, love that money saving spreadsheet. I think I might save it to the desktop for my own personal use! xx

  • Niken

    i don’t make new year resolution, but i’ve been planning on managing my finance better. i love that spreadsheet too.

  • Helene

    ooohhh i really need to stretch. i used to be able to do the splits now i can’t even touch my toes!! these are some good ones

  • Whitney

    I’m doing that savings challenge too! Moisturizing is something I need to work on too. Winter is killing my skin :)

  • Zia @ Bits of Days

    You know what, I might try the 52-week money challenge… Thanks for giving me the inspiration! About speaking German… Ugh I still have no confidence doing it! Today someone was going to ask me for direction (I guess) but before before he said something I shook my head and tried so hard to remember any German word I’ve learned so far to say that I’m not that familiar with the area!

  • Mrs. Gray

    I did a word instead of resolutions this year and listed ways it might play out in our daily lives. I have seen several friends talking about the savings plan, and they mentioned they might do it backwards since they tend to have more money now than closer to Christmas at the end of the year. Just a thought. Happy New Year!

    • ifs ands & butts

      I read that about doing it backwards as well, and it’s better for compounding interest. I may do it that way, too. Putting my first savings aside tomorrow :) Thanks for reminding me of this tip!

  • Quyen Nguyen (@LiveItinerantly)

    I love the 52 week savings challenge. I’ll try to do that because it will pay for my trip to D.C. to visit my nephew. What a great idea!

  • Areeba

    I suck at acting upon my resolution Andrew this happens every year! I just need to blog more this 2014. Ahh I never trier German but once took a French class and ran away on 2nd day, oops!

  • Katrin

    That challenge sounds awesome. I need to look into this. Good luck with everything, Alex! I always make such great plans for the new year and I hope I won’t forget about them this time. :)

  • Colleen Brynn

    Yeah that 52 week money challenge is genius… I may do this…

  • Jenn

    Great goals for the year :) I took German in high school and loved it. Some of the words are weird but I liked that the grammar and sentence structure is similar to English (more so than in other languages) :)

  • sophierocious

    Nick’s brown paper bag *dying*

    Good luck with your goals!

  • Sara Louise

    I am all about that saving’s plan!!! I’m going to do it :)

  • Melanie Fontaine

    I agree with what you’re saying about resolutions: If you’re trying to force yourself to do something that’s simply not realistic you’re just setting yourself up for failure! Good luck for your resolutions! I hope you will be able to keep on improving your German skills and to grow both of your businesses! :)

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  • bevchen

    I buy all my stamps from the Post website… that way I don’t have the excuse that the post office closest to me shuts before I even get home from work (I’m too lazy to go all the way to Postgalerie every time I need stamps!)

    Good luck with the German learning! I used to read kid’s books when I was starting out… Emil und die Detektive, Der kleine Vampir and fairy tales were some.

    • ifs ands & butts

      Did not know you could do that, thank you for the tip!

  • Steven

    Good luck with all of this! I hadn’t heard about the stories written for people learning German- it’s a fabulous idea. I bought the Kindle edition of one of the other titles for myself.

    Regarding saving money- I find that I frequently wind up with €2 coins in my pocket from my regular cash activities throughout the day. I also figured out that a regular prescription pill bottle from the US (the little plastic vial variety) neatly holds 50 Euros in the 2 Euro coins… so whenever I get home, any €2 coins go into the plastic vial and the rest of the change goes back into my pocket the next day to try to be spent… It’s amazing how fast the €2 coins add up.

    • ifs ands & butts

      I like the €2 coin idea except that I love spending those suckers all the time because I still feel like I’m not spending money when the cash doesn’t leave my wallet (silly, of course).

      • Steven

        No argument there. I love those little suckers. When I visit the US, I yearn for a $2 coin.