New Year’s Tools


As we enter a season where we’re not just scraping by, I’m recognizing the importance and helpfulness of tools.

In previous years, I would avoid buying bins or organizers unless absolutely necessary–and when it became absolutely necessary, I’d buy the cheapest ones I could. I learned that cheap doesn’t last long but that a bin to corral like items can make a world of difference in your environment.

Looking toward a new year, I’ve acquired some new tools for specific purposes. I’m hoping that they’ll be even more successful than my dollar store bins–and longer lasting.

Fancy Water Bottle


Back when I had all the time in the world and Tumblr was a big thing (is it still a thing?), I followed a girl who was working to lose 100 pounds. She had this water bottle, and whenever I see it, I think of her amazing transformation. I think of the picture of health.

If you’re signed up for my newsletter, I talked about this at length, but basically I bought this water bottle to remind myself of the benefits of drinking water while actually motivating me to do it.

Seemed like a good use of spending money this month ($14) and very New Year’s resolution-y.


Photo courtesy of PCWorld

I’ve wanted to try YNAB for years…but how could I justify spending money to track my money? I found a three-month free trial link on their website and thought it would be worth giving it a try.

I watched their videos, read about the system, and had a good lay of the land (naturally, their book is now waiting for me at the library on hold :)). Then, I showed it to Matt. It helped us talk through what we have, what it’s earmarked for, what we want to prioritize this year, and…it got me a smartwatch.

Yeah, you heard me. Per YNAB, I gave every dollar in our savings account a “job,” whether “emergency fund” or “summer pool pass.” There were some unemployed dollars when I showed Matt what I’d done so far. Instead of assigning them jobs like “Minnesota trip” or “new brakes,” he thought we should just take the plunge and buy my smartwatch now rather than saving little by little and not buying it until my birthday.

I didn’t intend to get a fancy tech upgrade out of a budget meeting, but I’ll take it!

{YNAB costs $84 per year. After our three-month trial is over, we will be using our Amazon Prime sinking fund to cover the cost of YNAB. Due to their many questionable business tactics, we will not be renewing Amazon Prime. I’m happy for that money to go to YNAB instead.}


Photo via

My FitBit Alta bit the dust a few weeks ago. It holds a charge…if it’s plugged in. Makes it difficult to track my steps when I can’t leave a wall outlet.

We could have worked up the warranty from Target to see about replacing it, but we weren’t sure it was the best model: I had to thwap it really hard to see the time or my steps and the original band broke quite quickly.

I didn’t want another shoddy product, even if it would be free.

Plus, there’s an upside to a smartwatch: I can get messages directly on my wrist, which means I have no excuse to be near my phone during school or other important face-to-face times.

Since my social media fast and habit changes, I’m trying to put my phone down more and more. And having a tool that makes that possible (while also being really, really pretty) makes all the difference.


Photo via Rachel Dawson’s Instagram (you know…before I quit Instagram ;))

We didn’t need to make room for these in the budget: I asked for them for Christmas.

The 40 pages of “prep work” at the beginning help you figure out what’s important for the year coming up, what exactly you want to accomplish, and how to put that into attainable, little-by-little goals. It’s encouraging, beautiful, and it came with stickers.

I’m almost through all of the prep work and look forward to pulling out my PowerSheets regularly to keep my 2019 goals at the front of my mind.

We Don’t Need Them, But…

After so many years of everything being tight, it feels wasteful to spend money on things we don’t absolutely need. We would still eat without PowerSheets and we’d still get our bills paid without YNAB.

But we budgeted (or found money in our budget!) for these things. We did not take away from our giving or any obligations. And, Lord willing, these things will pay dividends in their own way.

Long ago, I read a blog post referring to Proverbs 31:15, where that insufferably perfect godly example of a woman had servants. The writer stated that she had servants of a different kind: a dishwasher, a washer and dryer, a crockpot. I hadn’t thought of the tools at my disposal as servants, but I think I’ll try to keep that in mind.

And here’s to hoping my “servants” do their jobs well, whether reminding me to hydrate or manage our finances wisely, in 2019.

Published by MK Jorgenson

Thinking, writing, and talking about Christian stewardship in all of its facets.

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