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 . . .
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?