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At the beginning of the year we came up with a goal to save money for a down payment on our first home. In the first month we cut expenses, and sold things and quickly had $1,000 in the bank. Since then the “fire” has cooled a bit, and we haven’t been as focused on saving. And we have fallen down in a couple of areas.
In January I cancelled our Netflix because it was an unnecessary expense, but also because I felt that our family was spending too much time watching TV. Well, last week I caved an re-subscribed to Netflix. They added the last episodes of Breaking Bad, how could I NOT? As soon as we got done watching Breaking Bad (um, what the heck kind of an ending was that) we immediately regretted getting Netflix back. There just isn’t enough on to justify paying for it, and it again fostered our sitting in front of the TV. I canceled it.
Another area we have faltered in is spending on groceries and household expenses. The goal was to only spend my tip income on groceries, but that doesn’t really create a budget because my tips fluctuate. And if we are out of milk, do we wait until I go to work and get a tip? No, we take the debit card and go get milk.
Thankfully we realized that we were getting off track right away, and can remedy our issues before we completely derail our goal. Here are 4 steps that we are using to stay motivated.
1. Write it down. Dedicate a notebook or binder specifically to your goal. Write down your goal and how you plan to get there. Document your successes and failures. When its down on paper not only does it add a measure of accountability, it helps to cement your specific goals and values. We decided we aren’t going to pay for TV. Now that its in writing, we can’t justify or talk our way out of it.
2. Look ahead and day dream. Our specific goal is to buy a house. So even though we aren’t read to buy, or even seriously browse yet, we peruse the local real estate web sites from time to time. Seeing what is available not only motivates us, it helps to define exactly what our budget should be and how much we will need to save.
3. Get on the program. Is your goal to lose weight? Join Weight Watchers, start using My Fitness Pal – do some sort of structured program. Is your goal financial? Take Financial Peace, read a Suze Orman book. Our goal is financial, and while we have already taken Financial Peace we haven’t faithfully stuck with it. So we will be sitting down and putting our budget on paper and getting back on the envelope system. When we are 100% sticking to a system, there isn’t room for cheating.
4. Give it to God. The Bible is pretty clear that we should be living a good, contented life. Living completely out of control is not only destructive, it isn’t Biblical. Pray about your situation, do a Bible study about the area you are working on. The one thing we have learned the hard way over and over again is that if God isn’t at the center of your life, marriage, finances, or whatever, it quickly becomes a train wreck.