My one-year (super boring) challenge: fiscal responsibility

At the start of 2013, I read several stories about one-year (and somewhat gimmicky) challenges.

There’s the mom who only plans to eat Starbucks. (Gross.) And the mom who plans to spend $0 on her child. (Love her, and I totally approve.)

I love the concept of a one-year personal challenge. It’s long enough to make a difference in your life, but it’s not a life sentence. Plus, it gives you an out. You’re not saying: I’m changing my life forever. You’re saying: I’m changing my life for now. What ultimately ends up happening is that you do change your life. How can you not?

A year ago, I told myself I’d spend one year blogging about money, and talking about money. The idea was that if I was completely open about my financial life, then that life would improve. I believe that hiding stuff only makes it worse, and that talking about something opens it up for growth and (so sorry, about to drop an Oprahism, here) healing (bleech! sorry!).

So…I opened up about my personal finances. I TMIed about my debts, and I pontificated (OK, bragged) about my savings. Disposable income and debt repayment suddenly became part of my vernacular. And…

It worked!

I can’t even believe it. I went on vacations last year. Yes, that’s plural. I went on more than one vacation. In more than one year. WITHOUT putting them on credit. I can’t even tell you how amazing this is. It’s nothing short of a damn miracle.

It’s all so unreal to me, that I’m secretly terrified it’s not real. I am suspicious of this financial wellness. Sometimes, it doesn’t sit right. I will have money left over at the end of the month, or enough money to buy, say, groceries, and it will astound me.

But I’m going to take it while I can. Anything could change, and I want to enjoy it while it lasts. I have the tools now to move forward, but I know that I’m not always in control of the outcome. Stuff happens. I was saving money for new flooring to replace the stained and worn carpet in my condo. Then, my 16-year-old water heater started leaking. The sexy, sleek vinyl flooring I’d fantasized about (yes, I aim love in life) will have to wait.

That’s OK. My one year of fiscal responsibility has taught me patience. It’s taught me that good things can come to those who wait. And save.

~HS

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

Photo: stock.xchng/RAWKU5

PS I told myself when I started writing this blog a year ago that I’d revisit whether or not I wanted to continue in February, 2013. I’ve published 55 posts so far (my goal was 52), and I didn’t abandon it after a few posts like so many other blogs I’ve started. I achieved my blogging goal, as well as my financial goals. Yay! Even though my initial idea was that I’d give it up after a year, I think I’m going to continue. I won’t write as often as I did last year, but I will still be here. Thanks to those who read, and commented. You made it more like a conversation for me. And that’s all I ever wanted. XO

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Share your financial resolutions for 2013

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I believe in resolutions at the start of a new year.

I believe in resolutions, period. But there is something magical about the fresh start that a new year brings. Despite what people say about resolutions, I often keep mine.* I owe this fact to being extremely stubborn and having a (cruelly) strong memory.

I’d like to share my financial goals for 2013 with the hope that they inspire you to set your own.

1) Stay the course: I’ve had a great year financially. I’ve learned to manage my credit card (the balance is zero as I write this!), and I’ve learned to save money ($3,000 in planned spending savings; $5,000 in job-absence savings; and $7,000 in retirement savings. Um…yay!) Now would be a great time to rest, right? It’s the optimal time to relax a little. NO WAY! OK, maybe a little. I can probably stop living with my poor-woman mentality, but overall I need to stay on my current path to get where I want to be, which is…

2) Become (almost) debt-free:  Mortgage not included, my main goal is to rid myself of personal debt in the coming 12 months. I have a car loan ($3,190) and the rest of my student loan ($1,300) left. Part of me wants to hit them hard, but I know that slow and steady wins the race, which means I will have to…

3) Prioritize: I have non-financial goals this year that require money to achieve, including replacing the flooring in my condo and taking at least three Master’s classes. That means other goals – like a trip to Whitehorse, YT with my daughter and my partner – will likely have to wait. That’s OK. After all, 2014 is right around the corner. And we all know a new year means new goals and new possibilities.

Please share your financial resolutions (either in the comments section or by emailing me at hasetka@hotmail.com). It will inspire me to reach my own goals.

Happy New Year!

~HS

*If you have trouble keeping yours, here are some tips from Forbes.

Photo: bigfoto.com

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