I recently read Shonda Rhimes’ (the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) bestselling book Year of Yes and it was fantastic.  In the book, Shonda describes how saying “yes” changed her life – and how it can change yours too.

Despite being a wealthy, powerful woman, Shonda is an introvert and often said “no” to attending events that made her uncomfortable.  During her “year of yes” she made a vow to start saying “yes” to everything that scares her.

I obviously won’t be saying “yes” to going to any Hollywood parties during my “year of yes” – I’ll be saying “yes” to everything I’ve been procrastinating on for the past year.  I’m going to finally start taking care of my health and to stop using money as an excuse to not take care of myself.

If you want to make 2017 your “year of yes”, the first step is to evaluate how things went in 2016.  Which goals did you accomplish?  Which goals did you not reach?  What things did you avoid or say “no” to when you should have said “yes”?  Here’s how I did in 2016.

2016: Successes & Failures

Spending ban: I’ve done a good job of sticking with my spending ban for the most part.  I haven’t spent any money on outings with friends or the hubby (with the exception of a few birthdays) and we have only done free events.  There have been plenty of board game nights, going for walks/hikes, and Netflix nights.

Debt payoff: I put a grand total of $9,728 extra toward my student loans in 2016.  (This is in addition to my regular monthly payments which total about $8,000 per year.)  This was very disappointing.  My goal was to pay at least $12,000 extra and I was hoping to be closer to $15-$17,000.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of big expenses this year…an unexpected trip to Arizona for my step grandpa’s funeral, my hubby’s new (new to him…it’s used) car, and major car repairs for my vehicle.

Health: I procrastinated on a lot of stuff that I shouldn’t have procrastinated on.  My chronic neck pain got progressively worse and it took several months of being in pain before I finally went to a physical therapist.

I lost 35+ pounds in 2015…and then gained most of it back in 2016.

Goals for 2017

Spending:  I have two main goals: continue the spending ban + work on ways to spend less on groceries.  This is one area where I am really overspending.  I spend about $400-$500/month on groceries, and that’s just for myself!

Debt payoff:  My goal is to put at least $12,000 extra toward my loans (hopefully $15,000+).  As I’ve seen from 2015, this goal is hugely unrealistic because I know for a fact that unexpected expenses will pop up.  So… I have two options.

I can either increase my income or I can change my goal and accept the fact that my loans will not be paid off by 2018.  My plan is to do both…I’ll continue to try to increase my income through blogging and other side hustles, and I’ll change my goal if necessary.

Health:  I have two main goals for my health in 2017: prioritize taking care of my neck/shoulder issues + lose 35 pounds (and keep it off this time!)  I will be doing my physical therapy exercises with my foam roller daily, walking on the treadmill every day, and going to free holy yoga classes 1-2 times per week.

As for my diet, my goal is to stop cheat days/cheat meals entirely.  I also need to work on snacking less often and choosing snacks that are actually whole foods instead of “healthy” processed food.

A Final Note

In 2017, I’m saying “yes” to taking care of my health, increasing my income, and paying off as much debt as possible.  As Shonda mentions in Year of Yes, sometimes saying “yes” means saying “no”.  For example, saying “yes” to taking care of your health means saying “no” to eating junk food or overeating.

I’m saying “no” to junk food, fast food, breaking my spending ban, and ignoring health problems.  I’m saying “yes” to losing weight and getting out of debt!

What are you afraid to do?  What have you been avoiding or putting off?

What can you say “yes” to this year?

I’ll be saying “yes” to more free events in 2017.  Here are my favorite (and free!) fun times from 2016!


At a free event with Heather of the blog Simply Save! We scored lots of free dog treats for Herbie and Max!

Walking by the lake with my two favorite guys.

Walking by the lake with my two favorite guys.

Selfie stick fun at a barbecue (at a lake...Minnesotans are always at a lake).

Selfie stick fun at a barbecue (at a lake…Minnesotans are always at a lake).

My parents at Prince's studio. RIP.

My parents at Prince’s studio. RIP Prince.

With friends at a free art museum.

With friends at a free art museum.

Holy yoga with mom.

Holy yoga with mom.

At the Walk for Animals. We won a $175 gift card for a pet photo shoot!

At the Walk for Animals. We won a $175 gift card for a pet photo shoot!


Other stuff you might like:

My Personal Finance “Aha” Moment
How We’re Preparing Financially for a Pug Puppy
Why I’m Grateful for My Student Loan Debt
The Appeal of Minimalism
9 Ways to Get Free Yoga Classes

Personal Finance Resources:

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
YOLO: The Roadmap to Financial Wellness and a Purposeful Life by Jason Vitug
Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach
It’s Only Money and It Does Grow on Trees by Cara MacMillan

Blogging Resources:

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
365 Blog Topic Ideas for the Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing to Write About by Dana Fox
ProBlogger: Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income