My Journey out of Debt

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Resolution Report Card

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Winter has turned to spring, and spring has given way to summer.  So naturally the first thing that comes to mind when I wake up every day is, "How am I doing with those New Year's Resolutions?" 

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Well, maybe not the first thing, but it does cross my mind often.

Being about half way through 2011, I thought this would be a perfect time for me to revisit the four things I committed to in January, and see if I'm following through or not.  And since the kids recently got their end of the year report cards, I'll do this in report card fashion.

Resolution #1: I will get better at budgeting and spreading spending throughout the month.

We tried to ration our entertainment spending by putting a week's worth of funds into an envelope.  That system never really got off the ground, so we canned it.

In its place, we created The Whiteboard Budget in which we track all our projected expenditures on a dry erase whiteboard.  We start off the month smoothly by creating our spending calendar....then one of us will purchase something not on the calendar without any discussion.

It can't work this way.

We continue to struggle, but are dedicated to making this work.  At this point it's not the system, it's our own will power.

Grade: C.   Until we can consistently project most expenditures, discuss changes, and make adjustments together, this grade will not improve.

Resolution Report CardResolution #2:  I will continue to improve my communication with my wife.  

This has really combined into a single resolution with #1 above.  If we put everything on the spending calendar (with some "slush" for additional things that come up that we can discuss and agree to), then communication is key to making the budget work, and to our success.

Grade: C.  Again, a lower grade for inconsistency.  We communicate when we initially setup the calendar for the month, do well for a few days, then fall apart.  Then we update the calendar....wash, rinse, repeat.

Resolution #3: I will save some money each week for future expenditures.

Despite my assertion that I was going to start doing it immediately on my previous check, it hasn't happened.   This simply has to be an entry on the spending calendar.  We "spend" some money each week by putting it in a bank account.

Grade: F.  Big Fat Fail.

Resolution #4:  The original resolution was to run the Twin Cities Marathon in October with the ultimate goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In order to have any shot at this, I need to lose 36 pounds.   

I'm not running.  Not at all, given I have plantar fasciitis.  The last time I tried to run a single mile (months ago), my feet felt like they were going to fall off.  They're slowly getting better, but it's obvious I'm not running any marathons this year.

I have, however, lost 29 pounds by riding the exercise bike and doing spinning classes.  I have also been strength training and am getting into excellent physical shape. 

Grade: A.  I want to run.  But right now I can't, and there's nothing I can really do about it until my feet heal.  But given the circumstances, I'm doing spectacular at my core goal of losing weight. 

My overall GPA?  2.0

Not awesome.  Disappointing actually.  However, I continue work at these commitments and hope that I can improve my Resolution GPA by the next check-in, around the beginning of October.

How are you doing with your New Year's Resolutions?

Related Links:

 Bring on the New Year

 An Honest New Years Resolution Gut Check

Taking Control - The White-Board Budget

Travis PizelTravis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis very candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. Read more posts on dealing with both debt and diet on Travis's new site, Our Journey to Zero! Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

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  • You are brave to post your report card!  My resolution for losing weight deserves an F- as I have actually gained a few pounds.  Have you tried direct deposit from your paycheck to your savings account to be sure you are saving what you wanted to each month?  I think you can have the savings amount be put into a separate account automaticly--ask at your bank.  Can you and your wife each have an "allowance" each month that you can spend without discussing?  Everything else must be discussed if it's above a certain amount.  That works for some people.

    Good luck with the communication.  It's one of the most difficult things to do, but so worthwhile.  Any progress in that area will pay off in many ways.  Congrats on your weight loss and fitness achievments!  Very impressive!    Here's to continuing improvement in all areas by next report card!

  • Hey Travis! Overall, I still think you're doing fantastic. I've found that when I try to make too many changes at the same time, most of them fall by the wayside. Try picking up one of the goals at a time and see how that works out. :)

  • The idea about having some funds automatically put into a separate account sounds like a good idea.  I would just have to subtract the "savings" amount from my pay statement to enter into the regular checking account.  If I do go that route, I just hope that we can keep our fingers off the savings account.  :)

  • Jenny, breaking things down into pieces and implementing them one at a time.  Sounds like the computer programmer's mentality I know and love. :)  The "communication and budgeting" goals really go hand in hand...I think before we do anything else my wife and I have to nail that one.  Thanks for the advice!

  • I believe you are still doing better then when you first started making those commitments and in time I hope you master them all.  I applaud you on your weight loss, that is a struggle for a lot of us.  OK, me :-).  My financial goals however are actually doing better then when I first made my new year commitment.  I will definitely be under $10,000 by the end of the year and will definitely have my program paid off within the 3 year mark from when I began.  In fact if I can continue as I have planned my last payment will be in July of 2012.  Making my total time with CareOne a 32 month program instead of the 61 months they estimated when I began.  We will see if I can stay on course.  

    I do make an automatic deposit from my checking account to my ING savings account each month.  It takes ING a few days before they transfer money back into my checking account so it is less likely I can use it.  It seems by the time they get the money transferred I don't need it.  This has taught me to manage my budget better as my savings funds are not readily available.

  • Thanks for your support, Monica!  I enjoy reading your updates to how you're doing paying down your debt - it pushes me to want to keep working on doing better, and trying harder.  Great job, and thanks for continuing to inspire!

  • I'm extremely pleased with what we've accomplished this year. But it can't stop here. We have to use this year's accomplishments as a foundation, and continue to build upon them.

  • Recently, March 3 rd to be precise, I celebrated a very special day. It's not the birthday of anyone special in my life, nor is it my wedding anniversary. It was, however, my two year Blogiversary.

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