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A lot of my finances stalled in March (not to mention my blogging schedule I was on!)–there were expenses I knew were coming that basically stopped any extra payments towards my debt. With that, I kinda lost my momentum at being “good” with money. I’m doing the Dave Ramsey program because I am bad with money, but it’s also taking time to re-train my brain at how to spend it. I definitely have an all-or-nothing mindset.

I did fantastic in February–I halted all extra spending and paid a bunch down on debt. When that stopped in March, so did that forward momentum. Here it is in the middle of April and I feel like I slid backwards. I did a bit too much shopping which I knew I could easily pay off if I got my act together. I know what I did wrong: I counted on getting a check in the mail that has yet to come, so I was counted my chickens before my eggs hatched. I also learned that I honestly need to budget for clothes, something I wasn’t doing before because I thought I didn’t need to–I hate clothes shopping, but with a couple of places (hello, Torrid!) I know my size so when there are good sales, I tend to go a bit cray cray. But the thing is, I want to buy clothes, so it’s better I budget for them and stay within that budget a little at a time, rather than do what I’m doing now, which is going on a big spending spree once or twice a year. I need to learn to space it out more. So I thought I had that under control–I was going to pay it off. The intentions were there. But then that dissipated.

My dog got sick. I decided that it was time to dig into my emergency fund–that’s what it’s there for. But with my all-or-nothing spending habits, it went even further in the toilet. My thinking was, “I’m already in the hole, what’s another $20?”

The one good thing I did during this period is after I got my taxes back, I put all that towards the credit card (this was before the I’m-going-pay-it-off debt and the vet bill–had I foreseen the vet bill, I would have kept the money in savings). So the credit card it went on is down significantly, and it’s a card that will be cancelled after it’s paid off, so that’s good forward momentum. It’s debt that will not be returning and can’t because the card is not being used. I know Dave Ramsey says get rid of all credit cards, but I’m just not in that place yet, but I’m working towards it. Maybe when I have more in savings I’ll be comfortable getting there, but for now, I’m not. If my dog’s vet bill had reached over $1,000, it would all be going on a card, so my emergency savings isn’t enough. Getting rid of all credit cards right now is not an option for me, it is not an immediate goal, but it is an overall goal.

Hitting the reset button: Now I need to work on making myself accountable again and getting back on track, so this is my official announcement that I’m hitting the reset button. No more unnecessary shopping, no eating out, nothing, until I reach certain goals.

My new current goals are:
*Go back to Baby Step 1 and get that $1,000 in savings again.
*Get the March/April shopping paid off–no more counting my chickens before they hatch.
*Pay off that credit card!

I have a lot of long-term goals, but I try to keep immediate goals so that I see changes, I can reach them, and I am not overwhelmed by the big picture. One of the reasons I lose control of my spending is because I get overwhelmed by the big picture and think things don’t matter because I’ll be in debt forever. I don’t feel that way when I narrow my vision and only look at the trees instead of the whole forest. So this week I am re-setting my goals, narrowing my vision, and going back on a spending freeze.

I’m kicking myself for losing control, for falling off the wagon, but I need to take a deep breath and hop right back on. I may have caused a setback, but it’s temporary in the grand scheme of things. If I can get myself back on the wagon and get control back, these kinds of set backs will be further and fewer between, and I’ll make the good habits that help me avoid them. It’s just taking time to re-train my brain and my habits.

None of my goals will be attained by the end of the month, but I will get my paperwork together, check where I’m at, and get back on track. This means having my goals laid out, keeping track again, keeping my spending in check, and making progress on those goals.

I hope you all have good goals for April and can obtain something.

Save

One of the ways I’ve been trying to get my spending under control (aka saving my money to put it towards debt) is to think before I buy. Sometimes that involves putting something on a wishlist so I don’t buy it–sometimes once you think on it, you just don’t need it. And other times, you just need to find it elsewhere cheaper.

Here’s a quick, easy wishlist I put together to help me get my wishlisting under control. Sometimes I go crazy by putting a lot of stuff going on it (sometimes fun things like Pop! Funko figurines come out in groups, so that list grows fast!), and sometimes I go a long time without adding anything to it. But having somewhere to put it sometimes just helps with the urge to shop. I hope it helps you, too, if you need it.

 Wishlist FullWishlist – Full Size

Here’s something that has been a huge help to me on my financial journal, and just in general: check registers! I don’t write checks that often (although I still use one or two a month!), so I use check registers faster than I get them. It made a lot of sense for me to make my own and I’ve gotten a whole lot of use out of them. I hope you do, too!

Check Registers
Check Register – Lined

Check Registers
Check Register – Green – A5

Check Registers
Check Register – Blue – A5

Check Registers
Check Register – Purple – A5

Check Registers
Check Register – Rose – A5

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One of my credit cards offers free FICO scores, so I whipped up some pages to keep track of them. I hope you can use these, too!

A5 - FICO
FICO Score – A5

A5 - FICO - shaded
FICO Score – Shaded – A5

A5 - FICO - no border
FICO Score – no border – A5

A5 - FICO - no border - shaded
FICO Score – no border – shaded – A5

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Well, I’m still chippin’ away! My goal for February is to pay down a big chunk of debt on my credit card, and while I’m not there yet, I have paid most of my bills for the month, and we’re only halfway through the month. I am hoping to take a couple of huge wacks at it in order to make my goal, but for now, I am slowly chipping away at it. I’ll let you know if I made it or not once the end of the month arrives!!

I am still on the fence about sharing my specific debt numbers, I already feel so exposed sharing what step I’m on and what I’m working on paying off (for example, you know I’m officially on Baby Step Two and working on paying off credit card number three). I am hoping to find a debt calculator online so I can tell you what percentage I am — for example, if it’s totally maxed out, that would be 100%. If it’s halfway paid off, then that would be 50%, so I can at least give you an idea of how far along I am on paying it off.

At the end of the day, what counts is I am working on credit card number three, and I am seeing it go down and only down! (The only time it goes up is once a month when interest is calculated.) As you know, I was frustrated by the slow progress of January because I had to stop my debt paydown and complete Baby Step One, so I’m just ready to really see a lot of progression in February, even if it is a short month. I’m in a unique position to throw a lot at it, and I am determined to do what I can, as fast as I can. It’s still going to take a while, but I am going to make a big difference as fast as I can just the same!

Did I mention I’m still on No Spend February? I’m doing really well with that! I haven’t been shopping and have only paid bills, bought gas, things that are necessary and not frivolous. I have something fun coming up at the end of March that was scheduled months ago so if the momentum goes passed February, well, then I’m just going to let it! Because I want to kick as much debt in the butt as I can while I’m motivated to. I tend to have an all-or-nothing attitude, and if I am on a roll with not spending, I need to ride that wave as long as I possibly can. Is anyone else like that? Does anyone else struggle with the all or nothing mentality?

I hope you’re doing well with your spending. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks to getting your finances in order.

I have some downloads that have really helped me get my finances together and so I thought I’d share them with you in hopes they’ll help you.

I created the Debt Pay Down page to keep track, and to keep myself motivated, to see the debt go down. Yes, it’s great to keep track of on a spreadsheet on the computer, but it’s nice to pull out my planner and see numbers while I’m fretting, and to look back and see the whole pay-down journey, rather than just what was paid down that month.

I hope the pages help you keep track of your finances and you find as much motivation in using them as I have.

Debt Pay Down Lined
Debt Pay Down – Lined

Debt Pay Down Shaded
Debt Pay Down – Shaded

Debt Pay Down Lilac
Debt Pay Down – Lilac

Debt Pay Down Pink and Green
Debt Pay Down – Pink & Green

Save

The first thing I did when I decided to start Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step One was The Thousand Dollar Jar. After I created it, I felt completely overwhelmed. How was I going to save that much? Easy–a little at a time. So I created The Hundred Dollar Jar.

And yet–that still didn’t cover everything. I was so motivated to keep going that I thought I could use it for other things as well. Maybe I want to use the jar to break down paying off my credit card into chunks, or save for a vacation, start a Christmas fund–there are so many possibilities! So I created these Custom Savings Jars.

Are you saving for a trip to Disneyland? A new car? Let me know!

Personal Custom Savings Jar
Personal Planner Savings Jar

 

A5 Custom Savings Jar
A5 Custom Savings Jar


Full Size Custom Savings Jar
Full Page Custom Savings Jar

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Save

The Jar is Filled
I am thrilled–through a blessing of some back pay, I was able to quickly fulfill baby step one!

My $1,000 emergency fund is established and I can move on to start chippin’ away at my next credit card again. It will be so good to see that start falling without going back up–like I mentioned in a previous post, it has no new charges being put on it (despite Dave Ramsey’s rules, I’m still not comfortable having charges like Netflix auto deducted from my bank account, but that’s another issue for another day!)

Now, I do have plans to put a bit more money in my savings account. I know I have my car insurance payment coming up in a couple of months I pay every 6 months, which is difficult to pay in one lump sum out of one paycheck, and it would help to have a bit saved to help myself cover the cost of that.

I am just thrilled to have made some sort of progress before the first month of January 2017 is over! I felt like I was kicking butt in 2017 and then everything came to a standstill, so I’m excited to see it start moving again, even if it’s going to start moving very slowly.

Slow progress is still progress–that’s why I call it chippin’ and not shovelin’!

Save

Goodbye, January! Hello, February!

Where has the month gone? So slow at times, and yet so quickly gone, we’re already rolling into the second month of 2017.

My challenge for the month of February is financial related. No, no, you didn’t miss a January challenge (although I have had sort of a writing challenge I haven’t blogged about, but I’ll make sure to get a blog about it in this month because I’m going to continue with it through February) but I HAVE decided to jump on the no-spend bandwagon. There is no specific group I’m joining, no specific challenge or group of women I’m doing it with, but I have voiced it aloud to my local support system (aka the lovely thelittlehouseoutback) and it is this:

February is No Spend Month!

I have stamped it all over my planner so it’s official! It’s a Crack Down. I have failed every one I have done so far so I am going to take a deep breath, take it week by week (and day by day if I need to) and just focus on the goal. There are bigger things ahead, I just have to keep my eye on the prize (which, ultimately, is being out of debt, and the more I do not spend the faster I will get there)!

Now, that being said, we do have a lovely “Good Job!” at the end(ish?) of this: at the end of March an out of town scrapbook store is hosting a scrapbook garage sale and we (my mother, sister and I) signed up to go shopping at that months ago. We went to it last year and went hog wild and let me tell you–hog wild still did not cost near as much as I thought it would, and it’s totally happening but I’ll be budgeting for hog wild this time. And the more I do not spend, the less I will feel guilty for going hog wild at the end of March (and the more I will have saved up for that because I have been looking forward to that since September).

So that is my big challenge to face in February: no spend month! EEK! I am so nervous about it, but I think I can do it because I feel more prepared than ever–I am so determined to see this debt go down, so determined to see a positive difference in my financial situation, and more than anything, I am so determined to keep feeling determined.

Like I have said before, facing that $1,000 Baby Step One has been a bit disappointing for me. It has made me feel like I reached a standstill because all of that could have been thrown onto Credit Card #3, and whoa, what a difference that would make! So I have to get back into my “Chip” mindset and just start doing my little bit at a time thing again when I can, and just keep pushing forward! Every little bit counts, every little bit moves me closer towards the goal of being debt free. It’s so daunting thinking of the whole overall picture, I need to go back towards thinking of just one or two steps at a time. I can’t think of the entire forest, I must look at just a couple of trees!

So my current goal is February No Spend so I can get back in the mindset of Chippin’ Away!

What are your February Goals? Are you planning on filling any Jars?

Last week I shared some Thousand Dollar Jars to help with Baby Step one (or any other goals you might have!). I don’t want to discourage you–sometimes that goal is just too big to reach and you need to start smaller, or you want to teach your kids to save and need a more realistic goal for them to reach.

To help with that, here are Hundred Dollar Jars. Use them to build up your savings in small increments or teach your kids to reach savings goals!

Hundred Dollar Jar PersonalPersonal Size Hundred Dollar Jar

Hundred Dollar Jar A5A5 Hundred Dollar Jar

Hundred Dollar Jar FullFull Size Hundred Dollar Jar