Wednesday, February 26, 2014

resolution rehash

So we are almost 2 years into 2014 and for the first time EVER I actually stuck (so far) to a few of my resolutions!  Or goals, I should say.  I am excited about one in particular that I want to share with you!  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Basically, in January I wanted to work on some things in my life, but I did a quick recap of how change has gone over in my past 34 years.

Not well.

So I figured that the only way change (and picture me whispering it like it's a bad word) would work for me was to take things  I broke things down into categories - spiritual, physical, emotional, relational.  And decided that I would just really work on one little thing at a time, in one category at a time.  I'd do something for a month, reevaluate, and then add another change.

In January, I swapped my coffee for tea.  EPIC FAIL.  I gave it a whole month, which I was really, really proud of myself for, because it was so hard.  Not hard as in "I have a child with a genetic life-shortening disease" kind of hard - that is actually hard.  But really, it was difficult!!  I decided to do this, under the "physical" category, because although I take my tea black, I use sugar in my coffee.  This was a decision that I felt bad about, every single day.  I felt like it got my day off to a bad start.

You know what got my day off to a bad start?  Giving up coffee.  You know what else?  It got everyone else's day off to a bad start! (Read - kids and man.  I pretended for everyone else).

Kevin - "Brynn, how can you be in a bad mood at 7:30am?  The day just started!"

Brynn - "**** off Kevin!!!"

No need for ANY comments about coffee vs tea.  I posted about this on fb and the post blew up with comments and I just wasn't expecting that.  No need for concern either - I have now happily switched back to coffee.  My family practically threw me a party.  With balloons and streamers.

But there was something we did in January that not only has stuck, I am so happy about it!  I didn't internalize it as a "change" but it really is, and a big one.  For YEARS, at least 10, Kevin and I have used a credit card to pay as many bills as we can, and then we pay it off every month.  There were a few times over the years we couldn't, but for the most part we've had no credit card debt.  We used it for everything.  Groceries, gym membership, gas.  Everything.  The plus was we were earning money back, as our credit card gives 1% back and then quarterly 5% on selected things.  But the downside was I KNEW we were spending too much.  I knew that if we switched over to a cash budget, we'd save money, because really, the only way we were saving money was a few times a year if Kevin got a bonus, not on a monthly basis.  All of our money was being spent each month.  And over the past year I had started to feel convicted about it.  But I wondered how to do it, as really, to switch over to a cash budget I had to have more cash at hand first.  It's confusing but that's how it was, because we had a credit card bill to pay the next month AND need cash for groceries, gas, etc.

We were blessed in December with some additional income from Kevin's job.  I knew it was time!  I looked over bills from the past year, and made a budget.  I wanted it to be realistic because if it was too tight, we'd go right back to the credit card.  But if it was using every penny we had, then what's the point,

We have not only stuck to our budget over the last two months but we had enough to put some in the bank and also bought a new reclining couch and recliner chair for the playroom!  I am thrilled.  We have a set amount we use per month and then any extra at the end of the month will be a bonus.  Sometimes it's been it is right now, the end of the month.  And last month I ended up selling a bunch of stuff from around the house to be able to go to the grocery store, as I had spent all of our grocery money already.  (Darn you Whole Foods!) But seeing how our savings could add up over the year, and have some money to make some small home improvements, is a great feeling.  Both Kevin and my income vary, sometimes widely, so I know some months we will just squeak by, even on a cash budget, while other months are more comfortable.

I wish I had done this many years ago, but for many, many years we were house poor.  Using a credit card was just how we paid bills, that was our system.  I stayed at home with the kids, making a few bucks babysitting or working in our church infant room.  Kevin's job has been a blessing all of these years as he has provided for us, but it's a recession.  We had particle board cabinets, people.  And I was grateful for those cabinets.  I was grateful for my cozy house....with furniture we bought 13 years ago that 2 kids, 3 cats and a dog put to DEATH.   So it felt awesome to get a new couch and chair...oddly enough no one took the old ones by the curb...was it the fact that the chair was in 2 pieces with stuffing spilling out of it and the couch had multicolor stains and rips all over it?

Anyway, to recap, switching from coffee to tea SUCKS but using cash to buy stuff ROCKS.

How are you guys doing with any resolutions/goals?  I'd love to hear a story of success or "this resolution is for the BIRDS someone pass me an oreo STAT."

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