For the first time ever, I think, there have been resolutions made in this family that are actually being acted on – irrevocably. Okay, I’m the one making the resolutions on behalf of the family… But the results are the same. In a nutshell, I’ve decided that this family is getting the hell out of debt this year. We’re not in dire straits, but we’ve learned that it doesn’t take much to make you feel like you are. No, like many other Americans we have simply been spending more than we make. A little here, a little there. Taking the kids to the movies, ordering in for pizza on Friday nights – swimming farther and farther from the proverbial safety of the shore one cup of Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffee at a time. But no more. This year we will return ourselves to a place where we pay all of our bills in full, on time, put money away for emergencies and retirement and still have some left over for fun. And we started this week.
And why? Why now? I Because I want to the phone to stop ringing so much, and I want to be able to answer it when it rings and not wait to see if it’s a creditor. Because I’m tired of not knowing for sure if we even make enough to pay our expenses. Because I don’t want to have to cheap out on a gift when my kids go to birthday parties. Because the time is coming when Sara and I will have to take care of our parents and the time is long gone for us to expect them to be taking care of us. Because I want to be able to take a real family vacation and know we can afford it. Because we still don’t have a dime saved for retirement. Because we’re setting a horrible example for our kids.
So, after talking with Sara and making sure we’re both on the same page, we committed ourselves to one full year of fixing the mess we’ve made. We set goals. Bring all our bills up to date and pay them in full, on time. Pay off 2 store credit and one VISA credit cards. Pay off a personal loan. Pay off our car loan. Start a savings account for emergencies. Start putting money away for retirement. That’s it. There’s no early out for getting to the point where we’re paid up on our bills. There’ll be no little rewards for imaginary successes. No caving in for birthdays, or yes, even Christmas. We’ve got a contingency plan for that one.
This will probably be the most painful and rewarding year of my life.