Friday, January 04, 2008

Resetting the Books

While January 1st is an arbitrary date, it is convenient for resetting the books. I keep track of my poker performance and my investment performance on a calendar year basis. It is not as eye opening an exercise as you might expect. Yes, I am still a losing poker player. Yes, our investments have still kept track with the S & P 500 Index (which was only up 3.52% on the year).

Developing and tracking expenses against a budget is a tedious process. I tend to underestimate my expenses until they are staring me in the face. I also have a tendency to exceed my budgets and as a result save less than I would like to. Some would say that if I don’t develop an accurate budget or stay within it, then what is the point? The point is to get to know myself better as a person and develop an honesty which will ensure financial health.

The hobbies budget will be an interesting line item this year. I have budgeted $100/month for poker expenses the last two years. In 2006 I was under budget. In 2007 I was over budget. This year I would like to purchase a new bicycle and will either have to win playing poker or not lose playing poker. The second is an easier endeavor as I can not lose by simply not playing. This walks handily into my “New Year’s Resolutions.”

While all of my resolutions aren’t for public consumption I will provide the highlights:

1. Organize date night once per month
2. Plan one getaway weekend with my wife
3. Lose 10 lbs
4. Bicycle 300 miles
5. Play fewer than 200 hours of casino poker
6. Call my close friends once per month
7. Take a family vacation

These may not seem all that far reaching but they are organized around important aspects of my life which include family, health, friends and hobbies. Relative to these topics last year I actually did pretty well getting settled into a home and losing 5 lbs. I played 37% less casino poker, but lost more money. I did not ride as much as I would have liked or key in touch with friends well, but all the buckets can’t be full at the same time.

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