Friday, January 13, 2012

Some New Year's Goals

So this is the time of year when everybody is thinking about goals -- or at least they were two weeks ago, haha! Well Bryan and I are no different. We believe goals are important because they are how we measure progress and hold ourselves accountable for working towards them. We also think it's very powerful to write things down and put them in a place where you can see them. Since we've been married, we've tried to do this, and have felt like we were making progress in some ways, but in other ways we have felt stuck in a rut at times.

Our main goal when we were first married was to become debt-free and stay that way. We determined that we would not buy anything more on credit or payment plans, and that if we didn't have the cash for something, we didn't really need it. We began to try to fully embrace the old pioneer adage, "Use it up; wear it out; make it do- or do without!" so often quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley (one of my heroes!) This has been difficult at times, but we've reminded each other of our main goal whenever one of us was feeling weak, (and I confess, I'm most often the weaker party...I like pretty, shiny stuff.)

This effort is probably obvious to anyone that's ever visited our home and watched a movie on our 15-year-old monster-box television set with the microscopic screen. A new TV has been a temptation to both of us -- especially during the "crazy deal days" of three-day-holiday weekends. But we've resisted. We've also had major obstacles in the form of medical expenses not covered by insurance, but we've also seen major blessings from Heavenly Father as we've done our best and tried to live by true principles.

Happily, once in awhile amidst all the struggles and challenges of life, we get a payday - a moment or event where you're finally able to realize some of the progress you've made. We had one of those earlier this week as we sat down and looked at our full financial picture and were delighted to discover that we will be completely debt-free (except for our mortgage, but more on that later) by the end of this year! Obviously, over the next six or seven months there's still a lot of work and sacrifice required to reach our goal, and we're not there yet-- but it's finally materializing as something attainable and within reach! And, we're to the point where our assets are finally greater than our liabilities -- that is if you're not factoring in our mortgage...but I feel like if we can continue down this path, we're doing really well for where we are in life.

We got bit by this bug when someone gave us a copy of Dave Ramsey's book The Total Money Makeover as a wedding gift. Check out my post from October 2009 as proof! I read through it in a couple of days and then wanted to read it with Bryan. We read through it together on a road trip one weekend after being married for one month. We felt like it had an incredibly powerful message that was so different than everything else we're told in society, and that Dave's plan, based on Bible principles of honesty, personal finance, hard work, thrift, and ultimate freedom-- spiritual and otherwise, was something that we wanted to use as the base of our financial life together. While we haven't always been great at following the plan, it has helped us to be aware of WHAT WE WANT MOST, when we are bombarded with the thoughts and feelings of WHAT WE WANT NOW.

As for our house, well, we feel blessed that we are in a better place than a lot of people considering today's economic climate. We were able to take advantage of refinancing into a lower interest rate on a 30-year fixed loan, and have considered even going to a 15-year, but we've got to see what the future holds for us as far as school. If we get accepted to the program Bryan wants, we will probably sell the house. This means that we will most likely take a hit, but in comparison to a lot of our friends, we feel blessed that the hit will be relatively manageable. Also, as much as both of us have loved living in Utah, it's not the place where we want to be long-term (GASP!) So we are looking at our options for getting back to our beloved Northwest!! We would love to settle down and start building a life in Oregon, Washington or Idaho, so selling the house will eventually be a necessity anyway. We'll see how everything pans out, but that's what we're working towards.

Over the last 12 years in my own life I have had moments where things have just not gone well, in spite of my best efforts. This includes the area of finances, so Bryan and I realize that while we have been working hard towards our goals, we have also been abundantly blessed by Heavenly Father, without whom we could not be successful. In sharing all our excitement on this, we realize that there are many people out there who are working just as hard, but still feeling buried. There is hope! I would recommend Dave's book to anyone-- no matter where you are with money. As we move forward into the new year, we have a renewed commitment to the plan -- and actually ending the year DEBT FREE!! And dang it, after all this hard work and sacrifice, if the world ends in December I'm gonna be ticked!

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