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I've been dreading writing this post. It's not even that anything all that catastrophic happened -- I fell down in some places, and chugged along well in others. But somehow, last Monday I just couldn't get myself in gear to write everything out and then Monday stretched into Tuesday and so on. So here I am now, writing it all out and cutting myself some slack.

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The first week of every month is all about money moving around -- the tide comes in, the tide goes out. We get paid once per month, by check through the mail, sometime in the first week of the month. So a big chunk of cash goes into the bank at that time. As soon as those checks are available, I go through a pay all the bills all at once -- so a big chunk of that big chunk goes away again. In some ways this is the easiest part of the month: there's a nice fat number in our checking account. In some ways this is the hardest: that number has to stay as fat as possible for as long as possible, and there's still a whole month ahead.

So how did I do on my financial goals for the first week?

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[livejournal.com profile] shesqueals recently posted a frugality challenge for herself in her livejournal.  I was toying with a similar idea for myself and her post was the kick that I needed to settle on it for myself.

I went into 2012 in really good financial shape -- two out of four credit cards completely paid off and gone, a nice emergency savings cushion, and a good handle on bills, groceries, and house planning.

Then 2012 kicked my ass.

Multiple medical costs (including those associated with the car accident) wiped out most of my emergency fund.  In the final push for our big trip I stopped putting a ton of extra into paying off debts.  Sickness and deaths in the family made life topsy-turvy, which made it difficult to plan or carry out plans.  I got out of sorts with money and have been running from emergency to emergency ever since.

So I'm going to challenge myself this January to get back on the road to financial stability.

Focus for January:  
Lower spending in general.  Make a reasonable plan for what I do need to spend.  Increase my current emergency savings.

Here are my January Rules:
  1. Plan Ahead: Plan all necessary meals out for the week during the previous weekend. Focus on using food that's already in the house first, and then using simple and inexpensive additional items.  Occasional eating out is ok -- if it's planned and fits into the week's budget.

  2. Minimize Purchases: Select three days each week to be "Buy Nothing" days -- and make zero purchases on those days.  During the rest of the week, keep a running tally of all purchases made and my purchase rationale.

  3. Increase Savings: Make a deposit into savings at the beginning of the month. Take no money out of savings.  Bonus Points: Make an additional savings deposit out of surplus funds at the end of the month.

  4. Accountability: Post once a week with a recap and evaluation of the previous week. I'll try to post these every Monday morning.
I welcome comments with suggestions and support (that's part of the whole accountability thing).

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sleepymaggie

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