Reflection on Accountability in 2017

My word for 2017 was “accountable”. I was determined to be more accountable in all aspects of my life to reach my goals.  Let’s see how it went….

As I look back on 2017, I see so many ways in which I was blessed.  My goal was to start fresh – a new me for a new year.  By being accountable, I wanted to take responsibility for my actions – willing accepting praise and constructive criticism.

I will admit I was apprehensive about having this as “my word”,  Fear of failing. Fear of having to explain my actions. Fear of letting others down. You get it, right? Being accountable would mean I needed to be willing to share my dreams, and my plans.  I would need to share my successes and my failures.  I love helping others achieve their goals BUT honestly, I am not the best at taking my own advice. This word meant I needed to be utterly transparent, stepping further out of my comfort zone then ever before. It meant learning to love myself (the good, the bad and the ugly) unconditionally.  It meant being accountable in every aspect of my life which was scary as HELL!

I used the letters as an acronym which helped me to break things down into manageable steps.  I had the help of an AWESOME accountability partner and although may not have always communicated, we were there for each other.  Thank you Amber for helping me to let down the walls so I could grow  in my business.

Let’s look at the goals for 2017:

  1. Reach my goal weight by maintaining the new eating plan. DONE!  The doctor set a goal weight for me and I am maintaing it.  I am 95% of the time gluten free and feeling much better.
  2. Be consistent in my business with book, sell, recruit.  Consistency in my business paid off.  I earned the Leadership Incentive Trip for the first time.  My personal sales increased by 18%, and my team’s sales increased by 24%.  My recruiting was down from last year BUT I maintained the same team members throughout the year.
  3. Nurture my relationships with my hubby, family and friends.  This is an ongoing process but I am blessed to have strengthened of my relationships.
  4. Pay off some of my credit card debt.  Well, this goal wasn’t achieved but I am not giving up.

For those who set goals in 2017 (or on a regular basis), you may say – these aren’t good goals. They are not measurable nor do they have a time frame attached to them and you are right. I have found those types of goals (resolutions) fall by the wayside and are never obtained. So, this year I tried by laying out my general goals, set a plan each month to achieve them and then was accountable for each step I take. The overall results were – GOALS MET (mostly)!

Have you selected a word for 2018? What drew you to the word and what does it mean to you? Share your word with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How to Stop Impulse Shopping

As I was cleaning out closets for the church rummage sale, I wondered why I had some things.  Shirts never worn, “stuff” on shelves which became dust collectors, things in boxes never used… what made me buy them?

During my early years in recovery, shopping was a replacement to my addiction.  It was something I did to fill the void.  Yes, we all like nice things but when did our wants become our needs or at least in our own heads.  I am more apt to imps shop during the holiday season.  Buying things for others and those sales!  This holiday season, I am determined to stay in control of my impulse shopping…

Have you ever thought about why you shop impulsively?

For many, impulse shopping or buying items we don’t need is usually a way to meet certain emotional needs.  We spend money in the hopes what we purchase will make us more confident, presentable or happy. Basically, we try to put ourselves in a better mood by buying things we don’t need. “Retail Therapy” as it has become known may help for a little while then it may turn into buyer’s remorse.

We say “If I could just get X, then Y will be all right.”  And for the moment, maybe we feel better.  Today’s marketing campaigns help to reinforce those internal insecurities which draws us to buy impulsively.  Did you know almost 90 percent of the items we buy impulsively are usually on sale?  We are easily seduced by the notion of paying less for things, coupled with the fear of missing out on the window of opportunity during the sales period which results in unnecessary spending.

How can we tell if our impulsive shopping is out of control?

Do you have credit card debt?  Do you wonder what you actually charged on the many credit cards you have?  Impulse shopping wrecks havoc on our budgets and can put us in a serious financial situation.  I don’t mean those small impulsive purchases, it’s those bigger high ticket items we buy with our credit cards which cause our debt to quickly spiral out of control.

Here are some signs you may be a compulsive shopper:

  1. Are you unable to afford basic items because you spent all your money on high-ticket purchases like clothes?
  2. Are you arguing with the people in your life because they don’t approve of your spending habits?
  3. Do you feel a certain high, a sort of euphoria every time you buy something nice?
  4. Are you lying to your family members or friends about the cost of some of your possession because you think they would see it as a waste of money?
  5. Are you sneaking purchased items into the house to put them away when no one is looking?

Impulse shopping is a form of addiction, so if you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you might be an impulsive shopper.

What can you do to curb your tendency to shop impulsively?

Like other addictions, food and drugs, for some it will be easy to kick.  While for others there may be struggles along the way.  The key to success for those who want to curb their impulsive shopping tendencies is willpower and dedication.

First, avoid using credit cards, instead use cash for all purchases. I know it will be tough.  I struggle with this.  I am a debit card girl and seldom have cash in my wallet.  I broke the habit of carrying credit cards in my wallet which has helped tremendously.  Face it, is is easier charging a $100 purchase on a credit card than handing over a  $100 cash for something.

Next, if it is a BIG purchase – sleep on it or leave the item in the cart when shopping online.  When you feel the impulse to buy, train yourself to WAIT.  If you are in a store, go home and sleep on it.  If you are online, leave it in the cart and close the tab.  Then see if you still have the desire to purchase it in a day or two.  Chances are the answer it NO!

This is a big one…create a budget to help you monitor spending.  This will help you  appreciate the effect of every potentially impulsive purchase you want to make.

Lastly, being accountable to someone will definitely help. “The Someone” could be your better half, a friend, or a family member,   When we are accountable by sharing our receipts with others, they might be the nudge you need to be more responsible in your shopping.

What are your best tips for managing the urge to impulse shop?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Got A Pay Raise?

Thank you to Julie of The Hallway Initiative for the inspiration for this post which appeared in MoneySavingMom.

“Nothing stimulates creativity like a good crisis.”

Living on a budget has never been a strong point for me.   I can remember very short periods of time in my adult life when I was credit card/debt free.  Then those addictive traits reared their ugly head and it was back.

Finances were almost always tight as a single mom.  As my own boss, my income depends on me which means it is sometimes inconsistent.  I have been  reading books on personal finance, working on a detailed budget (YKES!), and always on the look out for money-saving ideas. I ran into MoneySavingMom.com awhile ago and am eating up every penny-pinching post.  My initial thought is always to go back to work full-time then the realities of health struggles and age (everyone wants young social workers) hit me.  I will admit, I am great at managing money for others but when it comes to my own account it is a totally different story.

I don’t know about you but when I used to get a pay raise at work, my spending increased.  I mean now I could pay the bills (at least the minimums) and have extra money in my account.  The truth was (and still is) despite how much money is in the bank, I need to remember how I budgeted during the lean times.

I love these four strategies to maintain a frugal mindset:

1. Think in terms of stewardship.

I often forget everything I “own” is a gift on loan from God. When I remember it’s all His, no matter how much or little He’s given me, I am challenged to be a better steward with His things. I need to work with my money the same way I manage other people’s money.  Even during lean times, I found ways to help others in need.  It may not have been in cash but it may have been in groceries or time.  It is when I do things like this, the blessings come back in multitudes.

2. Keeping a budget.

This is probably the hardest thing for me.  I don’t remember much talk about budgeting when I was growing up.  I have tried to stick to a budget off and on for years with limited success.  I think I was the most successful with a budget when Elsie managed my money and bills in my early days of recovery.  I couldn’t trust myself to have cash laying around so she monitored it all.  Bills got paid and money got saved.  sticking to a budget is one of the best ways to maintain control of your spending.  It helps you keep track of your expenditures and reminds you to be wise with what you have. And, if finances permit, it’s perfectly okay to increase certain budget categories, such as giving, saving, and splurges! Just make sure you’re doing it deliberately rather than on a whim.

3. Keep up with penny-pinching resources

There are a lot of them out there…. I don’t necessarily mean “Extreme Couponing” unless it is something you love to do but I do have a few favorites besides MoneySavingMom.com.  I am always scrolling through financial blogs, keeping up with new frugal tips and making sure I am remaining a good steward of my money.

Some of my favorite resources include:

4. Save for the next crunch

This is where I made my mistake years ago.  When my finances were Just because your freed up for a moment, I didn’t plan for the next squeeze.  I didn’t listen to Dave Ramsey and other financial giants recommend building up 3-6 month’s worth of living expenses. If you’ve never been able to do so before, do it now while you have money left over at the end of the month (even if it is $10).

I haven’t done a perfect job of thinking in terms of stewardship, continuing to keep a budget, keeping up with penny-pinching resources, and saving for the next financial crunch, but those are the four strategies I’m working toward at this time.  I tried to keep in mind it is progress  not perfection.

What are some of you favorite money saving tips or resources?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Time to Get Your Finances In Order

I’ll admit, I am not the one to give financial advice because I still struggle with staying on budget as well as paying down debt.  As hubby says “You will never be a Rockefeller” which is why I was a perfect fit for social work and non-profits.I am always looking for tips on how to get better at this because:

Managing your money is the key to success!

So, if you’re looking to try and get your finances in order, stop spending, and start saving, here are some top tips are for you to try….

 

1. Create a Spreadsheet 

Do you know how much you owe?  If you have debt, do you now how much your interest rate is on each one? To easily organize your finances, a spreadsheet is a great way to see your income and your expenses.  You can create one in Google Drive so you can stay on top of it.   I have a list including interest charges so when there is extra money, I can pay down on the highest interest rate first.

2. Set Up Savings 

I know this sounds crazy if you have debt BUT you need to start saving for an emergency.  It can be as little as $10 a paycheck or $25 a month.  Check with your bank too for some of those instant kind of saving programs.  Bank of America takes the change from your ATM transactions, rounds up and the money is put in your savings account.  Those pennies add up quickly.  It all helps!

3. Organize Direct Debits 

I used to advocate direct debits but when my income varies, it is better for me to have repeated reminders set up. I have reminders set up on each of my credit cards when payments are due – 14 days out and 1 week out.  This ensures I avoid any late payment fees and any (further) damage to your credit score.

4. Refrain From Impulse Purchases 

Yup, we are all guilty of it.  Sometimes it is easier said than done.  Be sure to have some room in your budget for treats – large or small so you can occasionally splurge!

5. Make A List – Stick To It How many times have you gone to the store and your list is home?  The end result, you buy more than what you need and usually forget what you originally went to the store for.  I have started putting my grocer list on my phone.  When was the last time you left home without your phone?  Whether shopping for Christmas, clothing or groceries – always stick to the list!

6. Set Budgets for Events 

Everyone’s salary is different so why not set a budget for Birthdays so you don’t feel pressured to match what everyone else is spending.

7. Emergency Fund 

This goes back to #2 when we set up a savings account.  What happens why you have a surprise expense – car repair, etc?  Tempted to pull out the credit card. DON’T!!!  Use your savings account or emergency account.  By saving a little each money, you are ready for those unexpected events.

8. Don’t Be Drawn In By Offers 

Sales.  How often are you drawn in by the offers non things you may not really need.  If you need it, great.  If you don’t, why buy it.  I mean do you really need the  half price Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?

9. Make a Packed Lunch 

Taking lunch to work is so much cheaper than a daily visit to the local sandwich shop.  Think of the money and time you will save.  Have an hour for lunch?  Imagine being able to enjoy a full hour of leisurely eating your lunch and catching up with friends instead of waiting to order food and then gulping it down.  Bringing your lunch to work is better all around as well as far healthier for you.

10. Cut the Coffee 

Yes, I went there.  When I was commuting to work, I would do a WAWA stop on the way to and from work.  That came to at least $5 or more a day or $25 per week or over $1,300 per year.  I’m now hooked on Starbucks unsweet green tea and thankfully, I don’t commute or it would be about $1,000 a year on ice tea.  What could you use a $1000 on?

 11. Use Your Legs 

If you live in the city or your commute is to an area where there is good public transportation, this is a great way to save money.  Growing up in NJ, there really is not a very good public transportation system unless you are headed to NY to work. In addition to saving money, you can also burn some extra calories by walking to and from the stops.

12. Seek Out Deals 

Yes, I have gotten lazy when it comes to looking for the best deals.  Whether it is car insurance, phone service or our cable bill – I haven’t shopped around for the best deal in ages.  When I did call Comcast to re-negotiate our bill, I was able to save about $50 per month which is $600 to apply to paying down credit card debt.

13. Sell And Buy Online

I used to do this all of the time – selling on eBay was a regular thing.  It has gone by the wayside but it may be time to revive this old habit.  When it comes to shopping online, I am always looking for the best deal using apps like Ebates and others.

What is YOUR best tips for getting your finances under control?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Know Your Numbers

Thank you Carrie Wilkerson for the inspiration for today’s blog.  I have been battling weight for as long as I can remember… my first diet was about the 8th grade with the hard boiled egg and grapefruit diet.  Most recently I have lost over 100+ pounds with the help of Weight Watchers.  But knowing my numbers on the scale are not the only numbers I need to know…..

See before you can make a change in your life – You MUST know your numbers!  The scale is an easy measure during a weight loss journey but there are other numbers which are important….

What about your debt? Or when your business is stuck? Or even when relationships are stale?  Do you know YOUR numbers for these things as well?

The numbers are facts and data you can’t ignore if you are going to focus on your dreams and make changes in your life.  Things never change or we slip deeper into debt or gain more weight or even loose business because we make the choice to ignore the numbers. Are you like the ostrich who sticks his head in the sand thinking things will “work themselves out” or have you given up altogether thinking “That’s just how things are.”

***If you’re in debt…….Know TO THE PENNY what you owe and the interest rate. (It’s probably more than you think).

***If you’re broke….Know TO THE PENNY what your monthly bills are, where your spend too much, what your income is or ISN’T and write it down.  It will be the SMACK in the head you need to make a change.

***If you’re overweight or over-fatigued or out of time, spiritually distant or in stale relationships….do the discovery, find the data and make it real.

When you stop ignoring the truth and know your numbers – you can make a change!

Now, I’m not talking about a major overhaul in ever aspect of your life.  Start with a few  little tweaks and changes to move from the scary numbers to a better place.  You will be surprised at the changes which will occur when you are in the HABIT of KNOWING your NUMBERS…you can be encouraged and celebrate the successes as they start adding up for you!!

Accepting my highest weight (295 pounds) was a reality check for me.  It was the moment when I knew I wanted something different.  Thus began the LONG journey of heathy eating and portion control.  Did it happen over night? NO!  Is it an ongoing battle to stay focused on the number on the scale? YES!  The difference is now I believe in myself and am able to make the small changes.

I will admit owning my debt is a little tougher… the old inner gremlins (or my personal ostrich in the sand) says “don’t worry, be happy”.  I KNOW my numbers for my debt, my income and the crazy interest rates on my debt.  I am making small changes but just like my weight loss journey, it is a work in progress.

I believe in you even if you don’t believe in yourself…. What numbers do YOU need to figure out to make a change in your life?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

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