The Power of Fresh Starts

I took on a non-financial New Year’s challenge this year.  

I decided to give up refined sugar and alcohol until the end of February.

I know. I know.

Yesterday night was the first night where I really came close to caving in. I was fall-asleep-on-the-couch-before-dinner tired when I got home from work, and eating pizza (which is full of sugar, btw) with a cold beer sounded like the best thing anyone has ever suggested.

Now, I didn’t cave in, but I came thisclose.

In that moment, before I went back to the fridge and made myself a salad, I realized that I’m probably not alone on the whole “screw this New Year’s thing, I want to go back to the way things were when I was allowed to have a craft beer” thing.

A lot of people are likely feeling one of two ways right now about whatever they decided their Big Radical New Year’s Change was going to be this year – especially if it relates to money.

You might be one of them.

You’re either sooooo ready to be done with this already, since you – like me with the sugar-and-alcohol thing – are really starting to feel the drawbacks that seemed super manageable for the first few weeks.

Or, you’re one of the 33% of people who have already given up on your resolutions, and gone back to the same old habits, whether they’re spending habits or eating-cookies habits. Or even just eating-salsa habits, because did you know that sugar is in literally everything?

All that is to say, I get it – building great habits is no cakewalk.

(Not only because I can’t eat cake right now.)

But if you, like me, need a bit of a boost to recommit to those resolutions that seemed soooooo good only a few weeks ago, here’s what I’m doing to get myself through the next month of my commitment to no sugar and no alcohol.

Harnessing the Power of Fresh Starts

There’s a reason I love the start of a new month so much, and it’s not because of the balmy weather we can expect here in Ottawa on the 1st of February.

It’s because I get to start a new budget spreadsheet.

Nerrrrrrrrd. I know.

But there’s something to be said for starting fresh.

By the end of any given month, my carefully planned out month of spending has devolved into a series of

“Oh I forgot I’d have to renew my license plate sticker to avoid another ridiculously expensive ticket.”

and

“I forgot that I was going to register for my first CFP class this month.”

Before you know it, my targeted 50% savings rate is nothing but a pleasant image in the rearview mirror as I take stock of my actual spending for the month.

Which is why I so look forward to the power of fresh starts.

At the start of a new month, I’ve got a blank slate to try again and hit my goals for the next month – and the way I’ve structured my spreadsheets is a perfect reminder. No more watching my spending creep up past 50% and waving goodbye to my goal.

It’s a very hopeful day when I start a new budget spreadsheet, because it gives me a fresh start.

That’s why I’m applying the power of a fresh start to goals other than just tracking my spending – namely, not eating sugar or drinking alcohol.

Instead of thinking of this as the mid-point of a two-month challenge, I’m going to do everything I can to frame it as the end of my January challenge, and the start of a fresh new February challenge.

That’s an option that’s available to you too, no matter what your New Year’s Thing is.

  • If you’re trying to save a certain amount (or percentage!) of money, but ran into some unexpected expenses this month? No sweat – start fresh in February.
  • If you’re trying to spend less on something, like lunches at work, but found it was hard to avoid in January? Don’t worry about that. Give yourself a blank slate once February starts.
  • If you’re trying to kickstart a side hustle to earn more money, but you didn’t see much traction in January and you want to throw in the towel? Don’t. Use February to set some new goals and habits to take your side hustle to the next level.

Will you be using the power of a fresh start in February to keep going with your goals? And what are you working on? I’d love to hear about it! (Or do you have superhuman willpower and don’t need a fresh start? Teach us your ways. For real.)