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A Year of Doing More With Less part 2


What a year!

Eleven months ago, I wrote an article about setting financial and emotional goals of wanting to do more with less. Man! Did I pick a heck of a year to have my life turned upside down and do something different!

In the last year, I have worked through my grief from losing my husband on top of the constant news of what 2020 threw at the world. My plans of visiting new places, traveling for work and pleasure went up in smoke like the Australian wild fires, or the Brazillian rainforest fires, or the California and Colorado wild fires. You know what!? There was a lot of fire this year... A whole lot of dumpster fire.

My plans of taking in all of the culture with free museum days vanished as everything went into lockdown. My couple of months going to the gym regularly fell to the wayside and were replaced with wearing a mask and social distancing on the rare occasion I left the house.

What did I get out of 2020 instead of my doing more with less year?

It started out okay...

In February, I hit the ground running. For my health, I was going to a reasonably priced gym several times a week. I was avoiding shopping for unneeded crap. I was making plans to travel out of state for work and to visit friends. I signed up for some secret shopping programs to earn a little extra money. I even started journaling to work through my emotional baggage. I thought I was set.

Then things took a turn...

In March, things went downhill, as they did for most people. The news started reporting cases of Covid-19, and I swore to myself that things were okay. It was a virus somewhere else and wouldn't affect me. It was like the flu; it was no big deal.

Like a monster in the dark, it lurked closer until everything was shut down, and I was holed-up in my house, working from home and doing Easter dinner with my family over Zoom.

I had joked in my article posted back in January that my home library would last through a zombie apocalypse, and it wound up being used sparingly as my energy was diverted to the constant news of Covid and the surrounding politics. My vow to not buy crap weakened as I bought puzzles and craft supplies for crocheted masks.


A couple of months later that was paradoxically short and yet lasted an eternity, I realized I was spinning my wheels, becoming reclusive, and not gaining on my financial goal, the opposite of my intent for the year. With my state still in some form of lockdown and my physical and emotional wellbeing in peril, I took stock of my resources. What did I have available that would be inexpensive and fit CDC safety protocols?

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  • Local nature preserves and parks - Many larger nature preserves and parks were overrun and even shutting down due to the number of people needing to get out of the house, but some smaller areas were less crowded. This can be hit or miss, so I always Google to check hours and how busy a park is showing.
  • The local public library - Resources may vary, but my library has bulked up on virtual services that range from audio and eBooks from Hoopla and Overdrive/Libby to eLearning through Lynda from LinkedIn to genealogy from to foreign language learning from Mango. I could go on and on about the online resources, but one of the main benefits of the local library is community. Through the library, I have been able to participate in a monthly book club via video chat. While it isn't the same as sitting in a room with people and having snacks, this does give the chance to meet people and socialize.
  • Online social groups - Social media like Facebook and Twitter may be a common tool for many people to socialize, but I also found the apps Meetup and Eventbrite helpful in filling my calendar. They are both places where people can post upcoming events: anything from concerts to book clubs. Meetup has the added bonus of predefined interest categories like Tech, Family, and Photography and allows users to join local clubs that fit their interests. Through these clubs, I have participated in educational talks, online game nights, and book chats. When not in a pandemic, they are used for things like hiking clubs, knitting circles, social activist groups, dance groups, and concerts.
  • Survey & Secret shopping apps - While many survey and secret shopping apps and websites are scams with unattainable minimum cash outs or ask you to sign up with an unending chain of spammy offers, I have found some that I will be reviewing in another article that actually work. I answered short surveys without leaving the house and did some safe secret shopping for a little extra cash.
  • YouTube - While YouTube is full of time wasters, it is also full of great content that includes educational and fitness videos.

What have I done with all of this?

I am happy to say that I rallied in the second half of the year. I started slowly by attending online events like educational talks. I planned them out, adding them to my calendar, and actively participated with comments. This gave me motivation and a sense of excitement to keep me active.

I took advantage of online learning with Lynda by LinkedIn and creative writing prompt website Reedsy to exercise my mental muscles and YouTube for yoga videos to exercise my physical muscles.

I have used a combination of paid market research studies (click here to read my review of some survey groups) and secret shopping to earn a couple hundred extra dollars and get some free food.

I also saved money by eating at home more and being selective with my dining dollars. When I was able to do things like go to a museum or movie (all socially distanced and wearing a mask), it was appreciated more and savored.

Auld Lang Syne

As the end of the year approaches, I am able to look back on this journey that is completely different from what I ever could have anticipated. If the year 2020 has taught me anything, it is that even the best-laid plans can be disrupted, distorted, and canceled. The main thing is to keep an eye on the goals and adapt.

© 2020 Liz Woodward


Liz Woodward (author) from Chicago, Il on December 23, 2020:

Thanks! I'm sure it has been a rough year for most people. Luckily, despite the most common advice of having specific, attainable goals, my goals have been more like action items of be happy but don't spend a bunch of money doing it. Hopefully 2021 will get back to some normalcy so that I can continue my progress.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on December 23, 2020:

Sounds like you have done a good job of adapting to circumstances. Someone once said (some thing like) “We make plans and God laughs.” Setting goals can sometimes be helpful, but we have to consider the developing circumstances and stay in the moment .

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