As 2013 comes to an end, I thought it might be worth writing a few words about this past year in terms of what’s going on in my world. I selected the three categories below to highlight certain major events that took place in my world in 2013. These categories do not represent the totality of my life. For example, there are no categories for my social life, healthiness and working out, religious life, etc. However, I think these categories adequately reflect some of the biggest items that I’ve managed over the last 12 months.
Without further adieu, here is a brief review of my 2013.
The biggest event in my personal life this year occurred this past summer when my younger brother broke his neck and nearly killed himself. He broke his neck by overshooting a landing while riding a BMX bike over a jump in a wooded area near his house. My younger brother went over his handlebars and landed directly on his head (with no helmet). In what is honestly a graceful gift from God, he didn’t die in the accident – he didn’t even become a quadriplegic or even a paraplegic. In fact, as of about a month ago he has regained most of his range of motion.
My family shared some pretty mentally draining moments leading up to the series of surgeries that put my younger brother’s neck back together again. I think that my younger brother believes that the rest of us in the family want him to stop riding his bike and give up on the whole pastime of being an amateur BMX rider. That’s not true. What we do hope for, though, is that he understands how each action (and inaction) that he takes has a direct impact not just on himself, but on his family and friends and those who love him. And, hopefully, with that fundamental level of understanding as a base, he might ultimately figure out that as we get older at some point we stop doing the things that thrilled us when we were younger because there are more people relying on us as adults than as children.
Financial & Economic Review
This one’s pretty easy, right? The biggest thing that happened in my financial life in 2013 was finally repaying all of my student loan debt. As I noted in the entry linked above, before my student debt was repaid this past August I was paying an average of $2,500 per month in an effort to accelerate getting rid of these loans. A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about his student loan debt and I commented to him that I hadn’t really started to reap the accumulative financial benefits of no longer making these payments. In other words, that $2,500 in extra money that I should have been realizing each month didn’t seem to be in my budget. Well, after some quick analysis it turns out that I was depriving and starving other areas of my financial life such that the extra money I should have seen in my account each month had to be immediately spent on other items (ranging from charitable commitments, professional development commitments, a busted laptop, and regular annual costs).
Now that those payments and commitments are complete I expect to see an immediate impact in my monthly budget. In fact, I began to see that impact during the second half of this month. And I’m confident enough in that increase that I’ve already automated certain funds to be extracted from my checking account and placed into my Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) account beginning in January 2013. If you know anything about Capital One 360, then you know that you can set up multiple savings accounts within your master savings account. The different accounts that I’ll either begin bolstering or funding for the first time in January 2014 include my master savings account, an account focused on paying the additional taxes that I usually owe each April, another account focused on setting money aside to purchase a home, and an account that is focused on saving up for a down payment whenever I need to buy a new car. One of the things that I’ve learned in life is that you need a reliable set of wheels, so even though I’m driving around a relatively brand new 2012 Ford Escape, I’ve been saving for my next car since I bought this one. Reliable transportation from Point A to Point B is critical.
The Business World
There were two major events in my business world this year. The first was Superstorm Sandy hitting New Jersey in October 2012. And yes, I know that October 2012 took place last year, but the aftermath of the storm had me helping to lead a new effort at my company that took me all over the state promoting my company’s new disaster recovery product.
On a personal, entrepreneurial-level the biggest thing in my world in 2013 was the founding and re-opening of a fraternity apparel company with one of my younger alumni from Monmouth University. We’ve spent the better part of 2013 re-establishing the brand and getting it back into the minds of the 130 chapters of our fraternity around the nation. And in just the last week alone we commissioned a new designer to create two designs for us to kickoff 2014 with a bang. I’ve seen one of those designs and it’s absolutely outstanding. The second one should be completed soon and I expect that it’ll be absolutely outstanding. Also in 2013, we began a very small brand extension by beginning to print high quality apparel for local groups.
And there’s a brief review of my 2013. I stopped making resolutions a few years ago because I realized that they’re all eerily similar to one another. Thus I don’t have much to write about what I want to accomplish in 2014. Among my own personal goals are the same old, same old including greater financial stability, becoming healthier, continuing to improve professionally, etc. I guess one item that I really want to focus on in 2014 is reading more. I’ve noticed that over the last 5+ years I haven’t been reading as much as I used to read. One of the greatest ways to differentiate yourself from the pack at work and in life is to read more; and as a guy who was an English major in college (i.e. I like to read and write), I should be reading a lot more than I do right now. I expect that this particular goal will obviously be helped by the fact that I just signed up for a library card (and Lord knows what type of stories I’ll have from visiting the local library).
That’s it, folks. I hope you each have a prosperous and rewarding 2014!