My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

New Year, New Financial Goals

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Some people make New Years resolutions. As an exercise instructor I see this peak hit every year from January until mid February, and then it dies out completely by March. 

The mistake, I usually find, is that the resolution is too big to attain. 

New Year, New Financial GoalsFor example, I might hear someone say, "My resolution is to loose 100 pounds." They go to the gym every day for about a month then stop going. A more realistic resolution might be to loose one - two pounds a week with a long-term goal of 100 pounds. 

Instead of going to the gym everyday, they go 3 - 5 times a week, but do it consistently. The difference? The difference is the reality of sticking to your plan in order to stick to your resolution. 

The same can be said for paying off credit card debt. You owe $15,000.00 that you don't have.  Under the Care One DMP, you are given a monthly goal per month to get the debt paid down over a certain number of years. This is attainable and certainly better than saying "My resolution is to pay off $15,000.00," with no help, planning, or steps to get you there.    

While on the DMP, I didn't make any resolutions, but I did make financial goals. My thought process was to continue paying down my debt, save a small amount every month, and try to build healthy financial habits along the way. 

I'm not a financial advisor, but I'd like to share some financial habits I developed while paying down my debt that I still use to stay debt free:

Make your monthly payment. If you can't do anything else on this list, at least continue to make your payment to Care One.  I know some months are more difficult than others, but paying down your debt should be your first financial priority.

Stick to a budget. This really helped me while on the program, and I still use a budget today.  You may go over it on occasion, but do your best to stick to it regularly.  Write out all your monthly expenses, including gas, food, and recreational expenses, see what you have left over, and be honest!!  If you know you're going to buy a Starbucks coffee every Friday, include it, and then cut it out if you can't afford it.  If you can't save money on a regular basis, try to save what's left over from your budget when you can.

Monitor your accounts. When I was on a tight budget I monitored my bank accounts on a daily basis.  There had been a couple of times when I had to pay for something outside my budget, forgot about it, wrote out a check, and found out it bounced.  Along with the fees, it threw my whole budget off for the month.  Know how much cash you have to work with on a regular basis to avoid paying fees for insufficient funds.

Save something if/when you can. Whether it's $25.00 per month or more, a little savings goes a long way.  This is especially true while trying to stay off credit cards.  As little as $200 can be helpful when small emergencies come up.

Is this a want or a need? When it comes to purchases, it's really important to ask yourself this simple question, "Do I really need this?"  Even when you are at the grocery store.  Sacrificing here and there will keep you on budget and on track.

If you can't afford to pay for it with cash, then you can't afford it. Period. I stick to this motto to this day, and it has been my best friend!

Treat yourself. If you've hit an important goal along the way, treat yourself to something small, but rewarding.  Every time one credit card was paid off, or my emergency fund was over $600.00 I'd buy myself some clothing or have dinner and drinks with friends.  Whatever it was I was sacrificing, I would get myself once I hit one of my goals. 

Although none of these tips will make you a millionaire, they should be sustainable goals you can build in 2011. 

The best way to pay off your debt and to stay debt free is to build some realistic financial habits you can keep throughout your lifetime. 

Happy New Year and Happy Finances for 2011!

Related Links:

Planning Those New Year's Resolutions

Why an Accurate Budget is Important!

Stop Swiping. Scale Back On Shopping. Start Saving. See The Pattern?

Cheryl BigosCheryl Bigos

Cheryl Bigos graduated from the DMP in 2008, and blogs as a graduate in the My Journey out of Debt blog.  She works as a Purchasing Manager in Los Angeles, teaches Pilates, and lives with her boyfriend of four years.  Cheryl is looking forward to connecting and sharing with others in the CareOne Community. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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  • Bringing up financial issues with your spouse or significant other is never easy. In many relationships, couples differ when it comes to finances.

  • I struggled a bit this year and I have to say, I fell behind in some areas. This is the time of year when I look back at what I did well and what I didn't do so well and try to better prepare for next year.

  • There's so much plastic around us (credit cards people, not the alternative to paper at the grocery store) making it that much more difficult to refrain from making big ticket purchases. I've been able to stay in the war and fight the financial battle

  • While you're paying down debt, the sacrifices are big, and the wait is sometimes long. But when you're done, it's really great knowing you can treat yourself to something you've truly earned that you won't regret.

  • Reading some of the forums, I see many people asking about whether or not it's possible to buy a car on the DMP. Since my car died only a few months into the program, I wanted to share my experience and some tips I learned.

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