Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolution numero uno... Financial Responsibility:)

Dear Diary,

Its time to “Resolute!”… set some goals and make them happen.   This topic is not just cheesy January water cooler chit-chat to me.  I’ve got some energy behind this topic and some real world experience in making change.  I draw from a number of my life’s experiences when it comes to resolutions.  Making change is not easy but there are things that you can do to have a better chance at setting and reaching your goals. After all, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Don’t be insane, if you want to make change, do something different, even uncomfortable, to get a new outcome.

1. What are your planning to CHANGE?!

What area of your life do you want to change?  Recently, I learned about a motivational program titled L.I.F.E…. living intentionally for excellence.  I think that’s a pretty cool mantra.  They sell books and tapes that talk about self improvement from renowned successful people.  The company’s materials recognizes “8 F’s” which are spokes on the wheel of life: Family, Friends, Finance, Fitness, Faith, Fun, Freedom, Following.  That pretty much covers it, right?  This list is all encompassing and it is nice to reflect on each of these areas regularly.  Being a multitasker who wears a lot of hats, I want to a better ME, all around.  But when it comes to making a resolution, we have to be specific.  Chose 1 or 2 areas that you plan to attack first.  My goals are still in the forming stage, but I thought I would share with you my process and maybe others can relate it to their personal goals.  I have chosen to focus on two… finance and fitness.

2. How are you going to change it?

Finance… for me, this is the more challenging of the two chosen areas.  I graduated with an accounting degree from Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) so people who know me sometimes think that organizing finances is right up my alley.  Oh contraire mon frere!

As of yet, I have announced this resolution as “2012- the year of financial responsibility”. (I like to say it in a big booming announcer voice… again: “2012- the year of financial responsibility!”)  The details are being worked out as we speak.   The main idea here is that I am going to gain control of the finance area of my life.  Be aware, plan, save! Let’s see what changes I can make that might make a difference in stress associated with finance and add to my bottom line.

The first change we are making is that my husband is “onboard”. We are going to be open and proactive about this one together.  Until now, I mostly handled paying the bills and did most of the spending.  Generally, he gets more freaked out about low balances and big expenses than I do.  I generally could maintain calm with “it will all work out” mentality. So, in the past, I just kept the balances and shortfalls to myself (with only one eye open usually) so that we only had 1 person stressing out about money instead of 2.

I read a book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” (Great book.. highly recommend!) Among other things, Robert Kiyosaki, the author, talks about money language, communication, family relationships and business.  He discusses how different the socio-economic classes deal with and talk about money.  Of course, the ones struggling with finances defend themselves with mantras such as “Its rude to talk about money. Money isn’t important. Money is the root of all evil.”  Others talk about planning, setting goals, look for opportunity, saving and levering.

Thinking about it, even though I read this book 5 years ago, I may have been doing just as it explained… carrying on a bad habit from one generation to the next.  Growing up, my parents didn’t have a lot of family discussions with us 6 kids (!) about money and economic philosophies.  We didn’t watch CNN or make habits of saving and budgeting .  Money was a source of stress and because of that, my mom paid the bills privately.  Fortunately, these days my mom is more money savvy.

Besides the aforementioned reasons for sharing this resolution with my husband, there are more reasons why this is a very important part of the goal achieving process.  First of all, he is earning most of the money and he is task-focused.  He also has a lot of knowledge of current events, financial institutions, and trends.  Being "teammates" in this goal is a well known trick to success: tell others about your goal so that its real, it’s out there, you are held accountable and they can support you!

Still on the topic of finance, the second action I took toward this resolution was from another motivational guru, Tony Robbins He says that if you want to achieve something, find someone who is successful at it and ask them if they will teach you how to do the same.  He says that most of the time the person is happy to share. AND Tony was right! My cousin and her husband were recently sharing with us about how they keep their budgets and make adjustments and drop any extra into this savings account or a CD etc… etc.   It was all a little uncomfortable to me to be honest.   BUT nobody ever said change is easy… and it always feels a little weird at first.  So at a holiday party last week, I ask my cousin if he would help me get started and sure enough, he was more than willing.  We are working on a budget in a format that I can understand and we are going to meet this week to make sure I know what I am doing.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="This made me laugh but it is NOT the way to think about it!"][/caption]

I told him, “I feel a little silly budgeting since anyway I rearrange the numbers, it still seems like there isn’t enough.”  So, what is there to adjust really?  But one of the things that he said already that made sense is that if you have any amount (even a little bit) left over at the end of the month, you should move it out of checking and into savings so that you don’t see it there as able to spend.  He described the budget as "balancing our check book in advance" so that at the beginning of the month, you will see what you might have at the end if you don’t nickel and dime yourself.

Lastly, and still on the topic of saving money, I am going to utilize coupons more this year.  I claim to be too busy for coupons but really my time is money- leverage!  If I spend an hour getting coupons together to save $50, that’s a good wage!  A perfect example of planning and awareness is that if I know we order carryout once a week, I could get coupons on groupon.com or restaurants.com for our favorite local pizza joints and restaurants.  Plus, I heard that if you don’t use coupons that you purchase from groupon, you get the money back into your groupon account to spend later.

So far, many of these goals are still a bit vague… being open, aware, couponing and planning with a budget.  Next short term goal is to is to meet with my cousin, make sure all the tools and processes are in place and then make commitment of how to continue it. (daily? weekly? Reconcile?)  After that, I should be able to identify some reasonable quarterly and yearly savings goals.

More next time on the fitness portion of my resolution! Please share any thoughts you have from this post.


  1. to try to handle a budget i have Mint.
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  2. Great post! I'm also going to be more aware of my finances this year :) Good advice!!

    I also use Mint.com to budget. It's great because it shows you EVERYTHING that you are spending on!