For the past three years in a row, my New Year’s resolution has been to get out of debt. Yet, year after year, I’ve found myself deeper in debt than the year before.
I’ve discovered that debt is a vicious cycle. It seems the more debt I pay off, the more debt I end up adding back to my total.
I’ve realized I’ve made many bad decisions with my finances. I’ve spent way too much with credit cards that I knew I couldn’t immediately pay back. I’ve drained emergency funds on things that weren’t emergencies.
The only bright side to all these bad decisions I’ve made is the lessons I’ve learned. One of my epiphanies I had when trying to figure out how I was never making any progress on my debt payoff was the concept of habits.
I realized that every time I tried to implement a positive change in my life, I would never stick with it for very long. Even though I knew all the benefits these changes would bring to my life, I would always fall back to my old ways because it was just easier.
One of the ways I plan to get out of debt this year is to create one new financial habit every month. While there are many things I know I need to work on financially, I am a big believer in baby steps, and I know that if I try to change too many things at once, I will crash and burn.
I want 2017 to be the year I finally get out of debt, so I’ve decided to adopt one new financial habit each month of the year to get me to my goal.
To start things off, I’ve decided my new financial habit for January will be to track my spending. Tracking my spending is something I’ve tried a few times in the past, but I never stuck with it more than a few days.
By deciding to focus solely on tracking each of my expenses this month, I know I can stick to that one responsibility. Instead of trying to do a zero-based budget, pay for everything with cash envelopes, and get a part-time job all at the same time, I can focus solely on making sure each and everything I spend money on gets written down.
This has already stopped me from wasting money (and it’s only the first day of the month!) I wanted to swing through the drive-thru for some lunch on my way home from church. But the idea of having Taco Bell be my first purchase of the year stopped me in my tracks, and gave me the will power to go home to eat.
(Instead, the very first purchase I made in 2017 was Rosemarie Groner of the BusyBudgeter.com‘s 90 Day Budget Boot Camp Workbook. I purchased it through a link in one of her emails, so I would highly suggest getting on her email list if you aren’t already! Her 90 day budget boot camp is full of challenges to help you make a budget that works for you and your family, and to transform your entire financial world for the better. I am going to take the next few months to work through it, but am loving it already!)
I am excited to start tracking my spending and seeing exactly where my money is going as I’m spending it. I believe that taking the extra step to write down each purchase I make will help me to be more intentional in the way I am spending my money.
If you want to start tracking your spending, there are many ways you can do it.
- Simply carry around a small notebook and pen in your purse or backpack, and write down each transaction as you make it.
- Start a note on your phone and update it with every purchase.
- Print off a spending tracker from online.
Find whatever works best for you. Go with the system you know you will stick with, whether it be electronic or pen and paper.
At the end of January, I will update how I did with implementing my new habit, and I will pick a new financial habit to add for February. I hope you will join me on this journey, and make this year the year you win with money!