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Where did January, February and March go?

It seems we were just setting goals and resolutions for 2017. While I’m not a big fan of resolutions, the planner in me enjoys “Must-Do” lists and short and long-term goals. Now that the 1st quarter is complete, it’s time to assess and evaluate–you know, have some accountability.

I decided to share our hits and misses for the first three months of 2017. Like you, I have big dreams and they are realized in the days and weeks of small victories and failures.

Here are the goals we accomplished and a few misses for the 1st quarter of 2017.

1. Paid off our next to last debt.

Happy Dance but this one was not easy. In fact, it was tough! At the exact moment we had enough cash to completely pay off this debt, I went into must-decorate-the-patio-and-add-a-fence-right-now mode. The weather outside was perfect and ads for dreamy patio sets were coming from everywhere.

Pressure barely explains what I was feeling and even worse, I almost convinced my husband that it was a good idea.

But fortunately our better senses prevailed and we were able to get focused. In that narrow moment of clarity, we jumped online and paid the debt in full. No compromise. No half-in and half-out.

Afterwards, I was so glad that we didn’t stumble. I was at peace and felt no regrets bypassing our HGTV backyard makeover. In fact, I felt stronger. With that debt paid off, we have an extra $250/month to put towards our last and final debt. Thank you God!

2. Cut the cable cord.

Yep, we finally did it. Goodbye traditional satellite provider (who shall remain nameless) but it’s one of the big providers that starts with the letter D.  During the Great Recession we reduced our cable bill significantly because we had to. This time we wanted to and there were so many great alternatives!

On average, our cable bill was about $85/month and for months we discussed getting rid of it. We were not sure which service was the best replacement so we tried 2 free trials.

First was Sling TV. It was great but deciding between Sling Blue vs. Orange could have been simpler. I’m sure they have their reasons for offering plans and add-ins, but I was looking for more simplicity. Offer one package at one price. I’m sure if we had selected Sling, life would be fine so make sure you try the free trial for yourself before making the final decision.

The next trial was PlayStation Vue and it was the final winner. We liked the user dashboard and the ability to stream on multiple TVs at one flat cost, about $45/month. There were a few more channels to choose from and the offer was straight-forward. It’s been a few weeks since the transition and I am totally pleased.

I really like the ability to watch TV on demand…i.e, my favorite shows are available when I have time to watch them. There are no regrets if I forget to set the DVR because you can just select your channel and scroll through most of the recently aired shows.

This move saves us about $40/month. Over a year, that’s $480! It works for us and I have no regrets!

3. Created a budget each month.

I can’t stress enough the importance of creating a budget each month. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married, no kids, or lots of kids, creating  budget each month is a necessity. Not having a budget is like going on a trip with no directions.

You would never take a trip without asking, “How are we going to get there?”

Yet starting each month without a written plan to meet all of your expenses is exactly the same.

In our home, I am the budget master (no surprise there) but my husband is better at holding us accountable. It just works and I don’t question it. Having clear direction for our priorities each month reduces a lot of frustration, arguing and overdrafts.

I am currently creating a step-by-step budgeting guide which details the process I use each month. I think you will find it helpful if you struggle planning your expenses each month. Visit the site often or join our email list so that you do not miss the post.

Misses & Opportunities to Improve

Such is life, there is always room for improvement. One area where I could have done much better is this blog. I long to write and post at least weekly but oh how life gets in the way. Fortunately, I have been able to move some things around and get re-energized in this area. As a result, I am committed to posting consistently and taking this blog to the next level!

I believe God has given me gifts and talents that I will use to the full! I am starting a 12-month journey that you will have to see to believe. The cat is out of the bag and now I have to do something different! I hope you will join me on the journey!

Next, I wanted to complete our personal will and finish our taxes early! Unfortunately it didn’t happen but both will be completed in April. No excuses! Get it done!

Lastly, I temporarily committed to stopping my monthly 401K contributions in order to bring home more money to pay off our final debt. Well, that lasted just a few weeks. I did not right feel right not putting anything away for retirement.

In my defense (kinda), when I restarted the contributions, I reduced the percentage so that some cash is freed up but I am also still contributing to retirement. I’m pleased.

Well, there is our 1st quarter recap. I feel pretty good about our accomplishments and I am excited about what lies ahead. I know that God has already fought for us–our job is to believe it and get to the finish line.

So no matter where you are in your journey, trust God and get to the finish line!

How did you do this first quarter of 2017 with your goals? Share any wins (financial or not) and if you didn’t hit the mark, what will you do differently going forward?

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