As we welcome 2013, we (as a country) are near drowning in talk of budgets, spending cuts, taxes and fiscal responsibility. The magnitude of the country’s fiscal well being overwhelms and leaves me looking for a quiet corner flicking my forefinger between my lips and making desperate, funny sounds. It’s far more than I can comprehend or even attempt to concern myself with.
Money management has never been my strongest skill set. I’ve gone round and round and round the bad grown up money mountain. I justify overspending when I want something, I borrow from this or that to buy this thing or that thing and I am TERRIBLE at telling Don no when he wants something. Those weaknesses combined have given Don and I 12 years together where we have acquired and lost amazing amounts of material belongings. Twelve years, during which, we have never had a savings account with money in it. We have been high as a kite with money to burn and we have been to the very bottom of the pits wondering where we were going to get our next meal and not sure how in the hell we were going to keep the lights on and the roof over our heads. We have been without food, water, power, a vehicle and on occasion a roof. To say that we have not been very good grown ups is a bit of an understatement.
Last year we worked hard to be better grown ups. We looked hard at our finances, our income and our bills. We determined where we were living beyond our means and took some drastic steps to reign our spending in. We sat down and set some boundaries on ourselves and amazingly we stuck to them. 2012 was one of the most financially challenging years for us but we made it through and even stuck to our boundaries and made progress in our quest to become better grown ups.
By the end of 2012 we had a savings account that actually had some money in it (lasted until Christmas… we’ll work on that one) and we hadn’t bought a shiny new car, hadn’t taken on more than two rent to own accounts and were getting better at telling each other no, both being aware of our finances and talking through decisions before purchasing anything.
Leaps and bounds from any year before that.
Today, the second day of 2013, we took out our credit reports, our bills, the calendar and a notepad and went to work. We decided that while we can’t do anything about the global economy, we can certainly continue our personal quest to be better grown ups. We’re almost 40… we have to get this right sometime…. right?!?!?
It started last year, now it’s time to take the next steps. So here is our plan for 2013.
1. We are going to get a new (er) / more reliable car with a reasonable car payment from a car lot who will report to the credit bureaus.
2. We are going to clear up the bad debt we have acquired since our bankruptcy in 2009.
3. We are going to pay off my tickets in Arizona.
4. We are going to pay off or replace the two items we currently have on rent to own and we are not going to acquire new merchandise.
5. We are going to get new phones without the expensive contracts.
6. We are going to plan and take 6 trips home to Texas.
7. Get our student loans back into good standing.
8. Remember that we are blessed to be a blessing and give as much as we can.
It’s not going to be easy to stay on track as the money comes in and the credit gets better, there will be temptations and offers that will be hard to resist. But, we have a plan and we are holding each other accountable to it. I have faith in us and our plan. We will see progress over the next 12 months on these goals.
1. An emergency fund of at least $1500
2. We are going to file our taxes (including the past 4 years which didn’t get filed – save the lectures, please. We are trying.)
3. Baseball for the kids.
4. Two Scout camping trips.
5. Six trips home.
6. Christmas to include gifts, a trip home and a secret blessing.
In 2014 we intend to work hard at staying stable, working at the same jobs, living in the same house and maintaining the credit we clean up in 2013. We also plan to save all the money we will be spending this year cleaning up our credit and paying things off (gonna have a fat piggy bank) so that in January of 2015 we’ll be looking for a house to buy.