Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Frugal Files: New Year, New Skin, New Ways!!

Hey there Frugalicious folks!!

Welcome to 2012!! This is a great time of the year because it's a time for complete transformations and rejuvenation. Everyone is excited about a new year starting because it symbolizes a new beginning; a new start for relationships, goals and healing. It's a feel good time that many of us use as a jump start to accomplish things we had not in the past and it gives us the extra confidence to actually get it done.

What I have found in all my years, is the newness sometimes wears off like the shine on something you received for Christmas. Right around March and April, when the season changes, we begin to forget all the goals we were so gung ho about in the beginning. By summer we're back to old ways and relaxing in the sun without a goal in sight. So what can we do to make our goals stick this time? I had to ask myself that question, because we're all guilty.

I've always heard if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. Why is it that bad habits are always hard to break and good ones are hard to begin? It's baffling that we always want things that are not good for us and we see the good things as a deprivation. You know what we need? A paradigm shift. We have to look at our lives as the abundant lives they were created to be. In order for us to live it, we have to live it daily.

So what does that mean? It means if you want wealth, you can't carry around debt. Purpose to set a payoff plan on a regular basis that you can follow. Pay your debt, like you pay your other bills like you would pay your parents bills. You wouldn't want to leave your parents in a bad situation would you? Then think of them the next time you sit down to write your checks. If you learn to sacrifice upfront, you can live well the rest of the ride. You just have to make that first step.

Decide what you really want today financially:
- Pay off debt including credit cards, car and house loans, etc.
- Start or increase an Emergency Fund
- Start or increase a Living Expenses Fund
- Sign up for your 401k/403b (for non-profits)
- Purchase a home
- Open a mutual fund or IRA
- Set up a 529 Plan to save for your children's college fund

Map out a plan to accomplish your goals. Are you willing to make sacrifices? If so, then:
- Decide to cook instead of dine out
- Only entertain at home with what you already have
- Earmark all bonuses and extra money to pay down debt
- Clip coupons and check for sales on needed items
- Participate in clothing and food swaps where give and take is both free
- Tell your children "NO" and then get them on the Budget Train with you

I've read articles arguing to be realistic with goals, otherwise you won't achieve them. I'll challenge that though. How has it helped you to "be realistic" and allow yourself a break? If you're still where you were a year ago, then that reality definitely needs a check. I'm calling for extremes. Purpose to have a certain number of days where you won't spend money. Make it a game and see how many days you can go without spending, then brag about it to family and friends. I certainly do.

You will eventually make it a habit to only spend when you need to. Once you've had a taste of paying less, you'll be addicted to paying less than retail every time. Don't you want more for yourself and your family? Don't you want to get out of your self-inflicted rut? It's time to "be hard" on yourself. I don't mean beat yourself up, I mean toughen yourself up. Have what you really want in the long term, instead of just what you want right now. Set weekly goals and review them on a quarterly basis. Check where you stand and what you want next. When you make this a lifestyle, your momentum won't be lost by mid year; you'll be prepared to evaluate the goals of the first six months and be happy to set your latter six into motion.

Let's make 2012 the best year yet!! One where we truly make our dreams come true and our bank accounts swell!! Eliminate debt and resurrect wealth!!

Frugalicious Diva

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