Sunday, June 26, 2011

Revisiting my Goals

Last week when I was doing my budget analysis worksheet, I noticed the list of goals/wants from when I first started this process which I had completely forgotten about. One of Gail’s most important exercises in the debt repayment process is to make a list of the goals that you have in order to keep your eyes on the prize and learn how to plan your spending instead of just throwing away your cash on a whim. I had made a list of things that I wanted which really ranged from smaller material things like records and furniture to bigger and broader goals like a condo and a big fat emergency fund. Back in the old days, I would hardly think about my purchases and just go out to buy the latest album I wanted and walk out of the store with 3 albums and a $65 bill. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have an addiction to purchasing music. I have easily accumulated 500+ CDs and another 100 records. I don’t even have a working record player and my computer is so old that I can’t even use my CD or DVD drives! Some of the titles are pretty embarrassing too – yes I’m talking about you Nickelback. I know. Now, it’s not wrong to pay money for music and support artists (unless it’s Nickelback), but when you have $38,000 worth of debt, it’s pretty stupid to spend at least $65 a week ($3,380 per year) on music. You don’t even have time to really sit back and listen to the albums and appreciate them or ask yourself why you wasted your money on this $hitty piece of Nickelback. Thanks to my incredible will power, I’ve not stepped into a music store since I started this process.

Learn to sew and even
 you can look this sexy.
Certainly, this process has finally been beat into my brain with a sledgehammer and now I have much more spending restraint than I used to have. There are some things on my list that I did avoid buying, but there are things that I still went out and purchased, but I did a good job doing it by keeping the costs at a fraction of what I had originally intended to pay. For example, I had a sewing machine on my list of things to purchase because back when I was starting the debt repayment, I was taking sewing lessons from this cah-razy sewing teacher, Peggy Lee, with my friend Caitlin. She told us that she had her son’s girlfriend saved in her phone as “$lut” – way too much information. I was looking at sewing machines in little boutiques that ranged in price from $300 - $500. Now these were some high-quality machines and I really wanted them, but I had to remind myself that I had a $15,000 credit card bill that needed to be paid off and that $400 a month (the cost of the sewing machine) was coming off my checks just to pay for the interest. I remember the MasterCard statements had a line on the bottom of them that said something like if you continue to only make your minimum payments you will pay of your credit card in 30+ years! Needless to say, I was able to avoid buying an expensive machine and found a vintage machine for $25 and even had it delivered for free. It really is a great machine – but I’ve NEVER used it yet! How ridiculous is that? I’ve had buying sewing supplies on my list of things to buy for quite some time but I’ve never wanted to go outside my budget. I’m also afraid that if I start up a new hobby I will throw myself off my budget. This just proves that sometimes the things I really want can be a complete waste of my money. Anyway, I guess what is important is that I never went overboard on my spending on wants in the past 8 months.

When I looked past all of my material wants, I got to the root of what really mattered to me. Here’s where it gets a bit more “real.” What I REALLY want out of this process is: retirement savings, an emergency fund, a sizeable down payment on a condo, more time to take care of my health, more time with my family, friends, and my partner, and most important, to be debt free. My debt really weighed me down back before this process began and I would avoid it ignoring my bills and telling myself I would get to it later. My favourite release was retail therapy – especially in home décor stores. I have spent money on things that really were not worth it.

Make a list backwards on glass, that works best.
In order to get to my number one goal of being debt free, I had to work out a real plan. Here’s what I wrote back in October, 2010:

Goal: To Be Debt Free
-        I want to pay my debt off because I want to use my money for savings and clean up my credit history.
-        I want to have all my debt paid off in 3 years or less.

What do I have to do to achieve this goal?

-        I will cut my spending on restaurants and alcohol and other "stuff" that I don't really need.
-        I will stop bringing my credit and debit cards with me to bail me to prevent me from resorting to credit.
-        I will commit myself to paying more than the minimum payments on my debt.
-        I will do this by sticking to my budget, learning to say no to eating out unless it is a very special occasion.
-        I may need help from my family.
-        I need my friends to be supportive of my decision not to spend as much and not encourage me to spend my money on non-essentials.
-        I need my partner to help me stay focused and be supportive of my choice to cut my debt.

I must say that all of these statements have remained the case and my debt repayment process really has changed the way I live my life; I have even had some friendships positively affected by this process. I really worried that my friends would think that I was rejecting them when I turned down dinner invites and outings, but the reality is that I was rejecting the spending, not them, and they understood that. At the beginning of the process I really put my guard up because I don’t want to get too caught up in the spending process, but I had to stop and remind myself how important it is to keep my friendships alive because at the end of the day, they are my biggest support in all of this.

Maintaining my goal has been possible because I really had to change my attitude toward spending and just flat-out not go to restaurants, not drink as much, cut my costs, quit using my credit card, and turn to family and friends for support when I want to spend. I’m getting closer and closer to getting rid of all this stupid debt and I am right on track to getting there! Lucky for me as well, this process has helped me achieve other goals too, like taking better care of my heath. If I hadn’t looked for a cheap way to work out, I never would have found the yoga studio where I made lots of friends and have been able to keep my costs down too! My health is better than it’s ever been now! Thanks for following me on my journey keeping me in check! I’ve had 1,000 readers in the last month, so I hope that you’re all learning something and that this amazing gift of taking control of my life is being paid forward a little!



P.S. I bought the Nickelback album back when I was a teenager, we all make mistakes back then! No judging!! lol

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