Jan. 4, 2018
I don't care that the success rate for New Year's resolutions is low. I make them anyway.
I like the fresh start of hope.
This year, I have three major resolutions: Get more rest. Eat healthier. Stress less about my retirement accounts.
Folks, I don't know about you, but I'm tired all the time. I wake up tired. This is probably because I get an average of about five hours of sleep per night — and that's being generous. So, for 2018, I'm giving myself a bedtime. No more late-night television shows. I'll just have to watch Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" in the morning.
I've also resolved to lose weight. My former brick-house body has morphed into a condominium after three kids and too many potato chips and fast-food meals because I was too tired to cook after working long hours or volunteering.
And, while my finances overall are in great shape, I'm overly obsessed and stressed about having enough money for retirement. Last year, I sometimes checked my 401(k) several times a week. This is not good. Watching the stock market's upswings and downswings so closely put me on edge.
Once I've decided on my resolutions, I try to figure out a way to stay on track. One year, I picked a theme song. Listening to it regularly empowered me to do better. This year, I'm choosing quotes.
Here's my inspiration for getting more rest: "Our sleep is not empty time" (Arianna Huffington, "The Sleep Revolution"). Huffington says, "Today much of our society is still operating under the collective delusion that sleep is simply time lost to other pursuits, that it can be endlessly appropriated at will to satisfy our increasingly busy lives and overstuffed to-do lists . . . The combination of a deeply misguided definition of what it means to be successful in today's world — that it can come only through burnout and stress — along with the distractions and temptations of a 24/7 wired world, has imperiled our sleep as never before."
I have sent emails at 2 or 3 in the morning. I don't expect the recipient to respond; I was just getting work out of the way. But I was trading much-needed rest for extra hours to do more.
For eating better, my quote is: "Eat to live, and not live to eat" (Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"). I'm going to try a more plant-based diet.
Finally, for my retirement worries: "In investing, we are often our worst enemy" (Burton G. Malkiel, "A Random Walk Down Wall Street"). He also says, "An understanding of how vulnerable we are to our own psychology can help us avoid the stupid investor delusions that can screw up our financial security."
I asked my readers to send me some of their favorite financial quotes as well, so here are some more words of wisdom for those of you who want to focus on your finances in 2018:
● "How many hours would you need to work to buy that item?" Angie Lehman from Akron, Pa., said: "I use this quote on my daughters, who are only old enough to babysit, but it is already making them evaluate their purchases more closely."
● "The best way to accumulate wealth is to get out of debt." Glenn Whitehead of Tigard, Ore., heard this from a certified public accountant he once worked with.
● "Don't work for your money; let your money work for you." Bob Mutari of Landisville, Pa., said following this advice "made me work to save my money to earn interest (in the good old days) and to later on be smart with my money (no debt)."
● "Consumer credit is modern-day slavery." Robert Dogan of Arlington, Va., said he realized this after years of racking up and then getting rid of credit card debt. He has since freed himself.
● "Good deals don't come looking for you." Frank Wagnon from Southlake, Texas, heard this from his investment professor at Texas A&M University. This is a good mantra to keep in mind during a high-pressure sales situation.
● "Pay as you go, you never owe." John Wetzel of Crofton, Md., heard this from his father-in-law, a child of the Depression and a veteran of World War II.
● "We can't borrow a better standard of living. Only our banker gets that when we borrow." That came courtesy of reader Edward Brown of Vancouver, Wash.
Every new year is a chance to change.