Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Resolution & Revolution -- Eliminate Debt & Save Money

Credit: Nasa

Resolution: A firm decision to do or not do something.

Revolution: 1.) Completion also: the period made by the regular succession of a measure of time. 2.) Radical or complete change.

At the turn of the year I decided I’d do better to pace myself as I make changes and align my actions with my ideals and how I serve both myself and those in my life, rather than make one big New Year's resolution. I promised myself that each month to address an area that needed attention.
In case you'd like to find out more please see:
January: Breathe
February: Meditate
June: Clear the inbox

Reviewing the past dozen months helps me to solidify my intentions, see how far I've come and see where I would benefit from putting more of my attention. And it brings me to a subject that, when I thought forward through the year ahead - back in January, about what areas of my life I wanted to focus on, it felt like a long way off. Now, alas I have to address it...MONEY.

But before I get into the age old yarn about nickles and dimes or lack thereof, I am pleased to inform that I have managed very well in keeping my email inbox nearly empty., last month's endeavor There have been a few emails that linger, but only because, well no excuses. I just didn't have the scratch to pay a bill or two. Ergo...this month's subject. To which I am very sure many people can relate. Money, money, money, money, money, moneeey (like the song) Money.

I don't think I have an unhealthy relationship with money or a negative attitude toward it. I've done a bit of the mental work in this area to clear out associations such as, "Money doesn't grow on trees" (Well no it doesn't, but mentality of lack will not attract the green stuff.) Or other deeper held assumptions like if I acquire money I'll be seen differently, think differently, act differently or that I don't deserve it and shall remain, into perpetuity a humble, struggling artiste. (writer.) Bah humbug I say to that.

In my vision I imagine an abundance of money, so that I am able to comfortably pay my bills, health insurance, provide my family with nourishing fresh food, venture into the world confident that I can pay my way. I have no aspirations toward greed, but a comfortable cushion. I think anyone would agree. Except when you don't have that, it feels so impossible and when you add to that mountains of debt that seem too steep to reach the summit, well you feel kind of buried.

And every one's financial burden is relative. In the end though being broke is being broke, except when a manicure interferes with putting dinner on the table. I would never say, "Oh woe is me," because really I've got it pretty good. Though when I look in my checkbook, I'd like to see something different. I've never been that kind of gal, but will admit I have a penchant for the finer things and experiences. My husband says (jokingly - I think) that I have rich blood. As in if we walked onto the car lot I would blindly choose the most expensive one. And I'm alright with that. But how to eliminate debt and start saving? How to get from here to, well, anywhere. I don't have answers, yet, but this is what I've learned.

For how many years, I'm not sure now, we've had our bills pared down to the base minimum that is acceptable for a modern family. No cable TV, no subscriptions, no coffee out, toys on holidays and birthdays-only, you get the idea. And the last time I had a manicure was for my wedding day...We literally save our pennies and quarterly donate to Unicef as our form of tithing. I think keeping the energetic imprint of money flowing and giving to those who truly have very little is vital.  

Our only splurges are travel and with the exception of a four day trip last year that involves camping. And we don't have a land yacht, so that is pretty affordable.

This post isn't a complaint, but a jumping off point for creating more awareness about how to live within my means, creating income and pay off debt. For the time being, we created an actual budget, written on paper, that for three months now I've been diligently sticking to. Each expenditure, from groceries to gas mileage is carefully considered. Can we afford it out of pocket? If not, can we justify it? It is hard at times, but I just remind myself that it is temporary and a means to an end. That is to have financial freedom without the mentally taxing (and often physical) burden of debt and looking ahead, being able to enjoy the finer things...like a manicure.

Here is my process:

Step 1. Create a positive relationship/attitude toward money.

Step 2. Express gratitude and generosity: as in I'm grateful I have electricity and that I can afford to pay the bill, even if I have to forgo a manicure (ha ha) and offer what I can to organizations/people who bring basic needs to those who don't have (i.e. electricity.)

Step 3. Create a budget and hold myself accountable. That is don't spend what I don't have and be responsible in how I spend what I do have.

Step 4. This is what I am working on now: decided what debt is most important to pay off and create a chart for when/how much paired with what is most important to save for (e.g. retirement, college, etc.)

Step 5. Visualize (and someday enjoy) a life of financial freedom.

My go to resources for guidance on the matter that I've found helpful are the Handel Group approach to money, along with the blog, Get Rich Slowly.  Mastin of The Daily Love also occasionally posts about money and I find his take refreshing. Do you have any resources, blogs, articles or tips to share about achieving financial freedom? Please do share in the comments below. Also note, these are just cursory thoughts, I could really plunge the depths of my thoughts on the subject, but luckily have all month to do so.

Resolution and Revolution BABY!

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  1. You're absolutely right in saying that everyone's financial burden is relative; I'm so glad you said that. It's so easy for us to compare our lives to others! These are great tips, I'll definitely be using them.

    1. Thanks Stephanie! It really is true - I could sound like a total brat to some people who have less and a big complainer to those who have more- it really comes down to attitude and gratitude!

  2. I like your approach to goals. Another blogger I know makes monthly goals since yearly goals can easily get forgotten or given-up-on.

    Wow sounds like you're already doing a great job! My husband hasn't had a steady job for about 1.5 years now, and he has a Master's degree. It's been frustrating knowing that we've worked hard so we can have a better life but the fruits of our labor not manifesting yet. He does have a couple prospects we hope to hear from within the next week or so, so maybe this whole ordeal will be over soon.

    That being said, I'm like you - I don't want to be RICH per se, just comfortable and able to help others. We're not there at all and I don't like having to rely on family, but that's our situation right now. Most of our consumer debt has come from moving from Hawaii to the mainland and back twice in the last 6 years, but we've managed to keep the debt far below average American household. Still, I can't wait to be out of debt, and that'll be my first priority once we have a steady income.

    When life was more stable for us, we used the envelope system off and on and that was easy and worked really well for us since we're not very good at disciplining ourselves. I think I might implement that again once we can create a budget. Right now our budget is to spend ONLY when absolutely necessary haha.

    I've enjoyed cruising around your blog the last few days. Love the multi-author platform. Have a great week!

    1. Hi Ihilani,
      I'm so glad you found Ladies Holiday! It is true how difficult times are, no matter how well educated and well meaning the economic situation has hit everyone HARD!
      It is so frustrating to feel burdened with debt and not able to pay it off, but keep I think trusting that it WILL turn around is helpful and giving our attention to what is abundant in our lives will help us to prosper.
      Best wishes to you and your family!


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