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Debt Solutions and New Years Resolutions -part 3

Okay, so you’ve got your Resolution notebook, and have written out some resolutions, and taken a look at your household budget from last year, or started developing the new year’s budget from last year’s expenses, or started developing this year’s budget. If you have not yet done those things, please go back to part 1 and part 2. This is where we start building the momentum to get you through the year successfully.

Here is one of the “secrets” that can help keep you on track….

If paying off debt is one of your goals, contact American Consumer Credit Counseling.

If paying off debt is one of your goals, contact American Consumer Credit Counseling.

Combine Goals for Synergy
If you really think about it, can you combine a few of your resolutions? You may be able to develop a synergistic effect that can propel you along the road to achieving more than one resolution at a time. Since saving money is our goal for this example, almost all elements of your lifestyle can be impacted, so why not set a few goals using those elements?

Saving money, getting healthier, and “going green” are the triad at the base of most of my resolutions. Fortunately, it is amazingly simple for me to combine and satisfy all of those. Some of my previous posts should reflect at least two, and usually all three of these goals.

Hint – this “triad” approach may work for you also! Or you can pick another one and work on several resolutions at once.

Combining Getting Healthier and Saving Money
Lots of folks make a resolution to either lose weight, eat healthier  or get more exercise. Those are all great for combining with financial resolutions.

How about combining the resolutions of saving some money on gas, spending more time with the kids, getting healthier, and saving some money by dropping the gym membership – by walking the kids to school, and running or walking back?  Weather and time permitting of course. (I never did understand the concept of buying a gym membership in order to drive 5 miles to a gym and walk 5 miles on a treadmill. Unless the air or crime environment is that bad in your neighborhood.)

Another way to approach this goal of  saving money, and getting some exercise without spending on a gym membership is getting yourself a piece of exercise equipment. Check Craigslist or Freecycle. You’ll be saving time by not traveling to the gym, saving money on gas and gym fees, and still getting your exercise.

I don’t know about where you live, but where I am hardly a week goes by when I don’t see a treadmill, rowing machine, or other type of exercise machine out on the curb. People buy them with the best of intentions, and they end up as clothes racks and dust collectors until they are tossed out. That is a class of item I would NEVER buy new. Correction, I would never BUY this class of item.

If you have the time to commit, and the ambition, you could even go further and find yourself a part time job that requires physical activity. I have a friend that contracts out to deliver phone books (those things are heavy!), newspapers or even landscaping supplies. He doesn’t need the money at all, he just likes the idea of getting paid to exercise (though if you’re working on debt management, side gigs like these can help)! And my brother does landscaping on the weekends – for exercise and stress management. He doesn’t need the money either, but he gets his exercise, fresh air and a couple hundred extra dollars a month in the summer. And he doesn’t have to wear a suit or get on a plane.

But anyway – my point is, if you carefully examine your lifestyle along with examining your budget, you may find resolutions that would work together well. And then find ways to accomplish them, maximizing your time and effort by multitasking.

Which leads us to the accountability portion of our resolution project…

Progress Reports
One of the only ways to keep moving forward on a project is to know where you stand, or sit as the case may be, and how well you have kept to your plan. You may even find the plan needs to be changed just a little bit.
Give yourself a set schedule of when you are going to check in, and see how you are doing. In this example, it is not enough to save the money, each day or each week, if the money never actually gets to the bank! I’d say the best time to check your progress and to make your savings deposits is when you pay your monthly bills. And then schedule when you are going to make that deposit in the bank.

Trust me, if you keep that extra  cash laying around you will most likely find a way to spend it-  I always do!

Don’t just assume you are doing great, actually take a look. Are you ahead of schedule with money you saved? There is no reason not to “raise the bar!”

In this example of savings $100 a month, if you find at the end of the month you were able to save more than that, what do you do? Spend it? NO! of course not. Either add it to your savings, or use it to help pay down some debt. You didn’t work so hard all month just to throw that money away… put it to work for you , either gaining interest or cutting down on your principle, hence cutting your interest for the duration of your debt.

And then… hold on a minute!  If you were able to easily achieve your goal of $100, and have “extra” to put into savings or pay down debt, RAISE THE BAR! Make next month’s goal $200. Just like working out by lifting weights , or running or whatever you do – the  way to improve is to always challenge yourself.  Not to find a level and create a nice little rut to rest in.

Make some notes in your notebook for each resolution that you are working on. How you did for the month, any challenges you found, maybe some challenges that you anticipate in the next month, how you feel about how you are doing.  If you want to go even further with this concept, journal your efforts weekly or even daily. I did not recommend this earlier, but if you are indeed committed , daily logging is not that big of a deal and can be very very empowering.

Again, this is to keep your mind “physically connected” to the project, and to help you focus. It is far too easy to let it slip aside. By committing to doing this every month (good), week (better) or day (BEST) you may be able to keep moving toward your goal more easily. Once it becomes a habit, its automatic!

Tune in for the next post which will give you some great resources that can help keep you on track in the New Year.

Happy Thrifty, Frugal New Year!

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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