Control Your Money or It Will Control You

I have a confession to make.

I have debt.

A lot of debt.

It is the thing I am most ashamed of.  It keeps me up at night.  It makes me scared to answer the phone or the door.  It keeps me from going to the doctor for needed treatment.  It makes me feel like less of a person.  It makes me feel small and weak.

It’s not as bad as it used to be.  I’ve worked very hard at reducing the debt, and I’ve made a lot of progress.  Thing is, it’s like when I weighed 300 lbs.  You lose 10 or 20 or 30 pounds, and you’ve still got SO FAR to go.

So for the second month of my Happiness Project, I’m going to focus on Financial Health.  My goals for this month can be divided into two categories.  One category will be daily challenges.  Like last month, I’ve set some goals for each day.

  • Track every penny I spend (cash, credit, whatever – write it down)
  • Purchase only needs  – not wants
  • No credit cards (with the exception of work-related travel)
  • No Starbucks (a big cheat in my budget)

I also have some one-time challenges to complete before the end of the month.

  • Start an emergency fund (I had one, then I had emergencies, and I haven’t built it back up)
  • Write a zero-based budget (I learned this in a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course.  You account for every single penny before the month has started.)
  • Complete a 1 week Food Stamp Challenge (For one week, prepare all of your meals within the constraints of the daily allotment for a person on assistance)
  • Complete a 1 week Fiscal Fast (I originally got this idea from author Jeff Yeager.  For seven consecutive days, don’t spend ANY money)

I’m actually looking forward to this month’s challenges.  It’s exciting to think of how much I might be able to squeeze out of my budget.  Not that I wouldn’t like an iced latte or a new fall skirt or pair of trousers, but it would be nice if just for a few weeks I could be in control of my finances rather than be controlled by fear and worry.

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