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Settle Down and Get Moving

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With 2012 officially in the rear view, things have definitely calmed down in my life… temporarily, that is. It’s winter in Iowa, so currently my free time is largely spent indoors with a warm cup of coffee catching up on my writing, my website ventures, and my favorite movies/TV shows. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is also a slower time at work, as so many of my coworkers scramble to use up the rest of their vacation before the cut-off date of December 31st.

To make a long story short, this is easily my favorite time of year. Life always runs a little slower and a little smoother right about now, and it frees up my mind to focus on the big picture for a while. I’m not sure how to describe what I mean by that, other than by saying that this time of year is when I do my best planning.

Financially, the big news right now is what my wife and I are affectionately calling “Baby Savings.” Baby Savings is the amount of money we’ve decided we would like to save prior to having a baby. Without getting into too much detail, we’re looking to have six months worth of expenses saved up before we start trying to have a child. Right now, we’re about 47% of the way there. With tax returns and my bonus, we still think we’ll be there probably by June of this year.

I invest most of that money in a mutual fund called the Pimco Total Return Fund (PTTDX), which invests almost exclusively in bonds and is one of the safest mutual funds out there. I’ve got some of it invested in Disney (DIS), of course, which is up about 10% over the last two months (the golden goose continues to lay eggs for me). Finally, I keep a small amount of it in cash. While we call this a “savings,” it’s really not a short-term savings account intended to be used for anything in particular, it’s actually more of a long-term “buffer” we’re trying to build up.

Now that my obligatory financial commentary is through, everything is going well otherwise. Ashley and I are starting up our walks again after a brief hiatus over the holidays. We put in about an hour and a half on the trail today, and it was really refreshing. I enjoy our walks because it’s when our best conversation happens. Plus, we burned about 400 calories, so that’s a bonus too!

2013 is going to be a really exciting time at work, with a lot of potential opportunities for me. I discussed with my manager yesterday about some projects coming down the pike that I’ll be able to take the lead on that I’m really excited about. I’ve learned a lot in the last year, and I’m eager to get the opportunity to take a lot of steps forward this year. I’m going to get more opportunities to prepare and present some key financial data, and I’ve also got some fun ideas for the Emerging Professionals Connection group at work that I’m the Chair for. Again, it will be a fun year at work.

Right now, probably what Ashley and I are most looking forward to is our cruise in May! We decided to take a cruise for our one-year anniversary, and we actually just paid it off today so we’re all ready to go! Now is the hardest part: waiting the 120 days until May 4th gets here! This will also potentially be our last vacation before we have kids, so we’ve already discussed that “anything goes” on this one. It’s going to be seven days of eating what we want, drinking what we want, doing whichever activities we want, and overall just living in the moment, completely.

The only thing that sucks right now? I’ve gained about 10 pounds since winter hit and I stopped riding my bike outside. Yikes! I’ve got to get back to 195, stat! I ride indoors on the trainer sometimes, but it’s not the same as the 3-hour rides I was putting in this summer. Soon as the daily high gets above 32 degrees, I’m strapping on my road tires and blazing the trail again!

I’m going to get off here now – thanks for reading!