Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolution 2011

I debated making our New Year's Resolution public.

But then I figured, why not? Once you write something down, it's more likely to happen, and I figure that once you make something public, that probably doubles the likelihood of it happening, right?

Anyway, instead of a slew of New Year's Resolutions, Jason and I kept it pretty simple this year.  There is one resolution we both share that tops both of our lists.

Aim to be debt-free.

I've been reading a lot of Dave Ramsey lately and I'm loving the "snowball method" of paying down debt.

I should probably tell you that Jason and I don't have a lot of debt, by America's standards.  We have credit cards, but pay the balance in full every month.

We try to cover all of our home improvement projects by paying cash (or using our bank card to get reward points, which we cash in around November to use toward Christmas shopping in December).

So most of our debt is in the form of student loans, mortgage, etc.  I have some hefty student loans, thanks to New York State's requirement that all teachers obtain a Master's Degree.

Yes, I have a fancy Master's Degree . . . but I also have a fancy (and hefty) payment every month.  And did I mention that I don't NEED a Master's Degree for my job, nor do I get compensated for having it?!

Neither Jason nor I came from money.  I used to be jealous of friends whose parents paid for their college educations, weddings, or their first homes.

Call me sick, but I've come to like the fact that I don't have a wealthy background.

When I look around at our house, our pool, or our other amenities, I know that we acheived them together through our own hard work.

Even more importantly though is that, in watching my father work in a factory for 30 years without hardly ever taking a day off (he earned perfect attendance bonus nearly every year), I learned what it means to sacrifice and to work hard.



Oftentimes, my dad would work 12 hour days, seven days a week.

I remember the threats and realities of lay offs.

I had a taste of factory life when my father got me a summer job working with him to help pay for college.  It was greasy.hot.loud.miserable.

And I wondered how he managed to do it for so long.

But coming from the working class has taught us something else too.  I believe it taught us how to treat people.
This summer when we had our pool, central air and a new roof installed (if you missed it, see here), we had a lot of contractors at our house.  We aren't used to that.  We're Do-It-Yourselfers, remember?

It was hot, hot, hot out and we would often go outside and visit with the workers while they worked.  We learned about their kids, health issues, pets, and families.

Jason offered to help them -- even though we were paying for their services.  He even dug a ditch for the electric.

We brought them cold drinks and let them come in to use the bathroom.

It wasn't because we were trying to get a discount in labor (which we didn't . . . ). 

We identified with them.  We're not used to hiring out for help . . .

And every worker said the same thing, which took us by surprise.

"We heard you guys were really nice people . . . The other contractors kept telling us to treat you right . . ".


That made us smile and was worth more than any discount.

The point is, we have worked hard to get what we have and we understand the value of hard work but we definitely have room to improve.

And if you can understand anything . . . you probably figured out that with a purchase of a pool, a new roof, and central air conditioning all in one summer. . . we've drained our savings.

Did I mention we have a baby due in just a few months?

And did I mention that daycare in our area is about $1700 per month?

So our desire to cut down on and eventually eliminate debt is strong.

So how are we going to do it?

Here's where I make my plea for donations . . .

Just kidding.
Stop by tomorrow to see how we "found" over $300 per month!

Do you make resolutions? If so, what's your top resolution for 2011?




9 comments:

  1. This is fantastic Stephenie. I also come from a very working class background and while once I used to cringe about it, now I see the advantages it's given me too. I'm embarking on my 'Year of Living Frugally' so I look forward to reading your tips. Good on you both...nice people indeed :)

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  2. I love this post about a strong work ethic and treating people right. We have a mortgage and a car payment and that's it. We don't use credit cards (we have 1) and we don't buy anything unless we can pay for it right then. It can be stressful when an emergency comes up but it's nice not having all the debt hanging over us. (I can't believe the price of daycare. It's half of that or less around here. Too bad you didn't enjoy Texas more when you visited last year.) Good luck!

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  3. I looove Dave Ramsey and his program! We have been debt free for years and pay cash for everything. Sometimes it's so hard to have to pass something up but when we save enough money for it and pay cash it feels so good!! Did emealz for a while which he endorses and that is also great for saving money! You can do this and I wish you the best!! Live like noone else now so you can live like noone else later..love it!

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  4. Love this Stephanie! Hard work builds our drive, our determination, and our passion. And, I think we appreciate things so much more when they don't come so easily. Beautiful post!

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  5. Dave Ramsey has lots of great ideas! Way to go on implementing plans to help you save!

    Thanks for stopping by to visit. Our new little grandson is named Kallen ~ his big brother is Keaton. Daughter has a "K" thing going on and we love their names. Can't wait to hear what you will name your little dumpling!!

    Big TX Hugs,
    Stephanie
    Angelic Accents

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  6. Stephenie,

    My parents grew up in poverty but overcame it by hard work and ambition and instilled a strong work ethic in me. I am grateful for that. We never wanted for much. I even had horses growing up!
    This is a great new years resolution and one I encourage others to make.
    I too have a few degrees and plaques.(We have more than you know in common.) My career was working with the bulls and bears in Manhattan, so I am financially fit.
    Your Friend,
    Deborah

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  7. How about using clothes lines to dry your clothes in the summer or hanging your clothes on a wooden drying rack in the bathroom....this saves big on electric bill!
    How about a push mower and not a gas mower to save on gas costs?
    Adding tomatoes to the salsa makes it go further.
    Making your own shampoos, laundry detergent, household cleaners....you can find the ingredient list on line.

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  8. I'm really inspired of this post. I'm glad the contractors gave back because of your kindness to them. Speaking of savings, I'm really trying to find ways to be debt-free this year. We planned to have our roof replaced next month, so we need to find the best contractors in Lincoln. Roofing needs isn't hard to accomplish, yet a lot of money must be prepared for it. We had inquired about existing Omaha roofing companies and we figured they're perfect for the plan. Thanks for sharing, Stephenie!

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  9. Steph, You may have already considered this or it may not be an option for you, but I wanted to share with you what I did with my student loan...
    As you know, I, too, come from the "working class" and did not have the "luxury" of my parents paying for college. So, of course, I had a large student loan to pay off. My situation may be a lot different than yours...the rate on my loan was 6.7%, which 3 years ago, was really high. I had no way to "re-consolidate" because I had already done so when 6.7% was actually low. With the way the mortgage industry is these days, depending on the current rate of your student loan and of your mortgage, you may want to consider re-financing (if you are eligible). We actually rolled my student loan into our re-finance, which in turn, means we're are paying way less than 6.7%!! Just an idea for you if it would actually benefit you.
    Jen Gibbs

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Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment! I truly appreciate your feedback.

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