When you’re in debt, it’s easy to be hard on yourself.
You shouldn’t have let yourself go into so much debt.
You weren’t smart with your money.
You’re not paying off the debt fast enough.
On and on we berate ourselves.
It’s even easier to do this at the end of the year when you feel financial pressure to buy gifts for not only family members, but associates, hired help, etc.
In addition, if you’re anything like me, you may have set some lofty goals last January that you could not achieve.
Our Lofty Goals
Last January, I could see nothing but clear horizons. I set some ambitious financial goals (for our financial situation).
- I wanted to put at least $3,000 in our emergency fund.
- I wanted to save $1,000 for a family vacation.
- I wanted to save $3,000 for a new-to-us car.
Guess how many of those financial goals I accomplished? None!
Guess how many I partially accomplished? None!
Sometimes Finances Are Just about Survival
What I could not see that fine January morning when I set my goals was that we were on the precipice of a financial cliff.
Within just a few weeks of setting the goals, we experienced a number of financial difficulties.
- My husband had to get a root canal and a crown at the cost of almost $600.
- I had to see a periodontist and several dentists for a cyst on my gum that finally resulted in a root canal in April and a corrected filling. The cost of all the treatment was approximately $700.
- Our daughter had to have several fillings filled and then later had to have a tooth pulled. $300. (This was a special year for dentistry; I promise, our teeth aren’t as bad as this year makes it sound!)
- Our car needed a $1,500 repair.
- Our car needed new tires. $700.
- My son needed braces. We saved and paid the first $900 out of pocket. In a few months, we’ll need to come up with another $900, and then we’ll be on a payment plan with zero interest for the rest.
- Our 18 year old A/C unit was leaking Freon, causing one electric bill to be $150 more than normal, and we also paid $200 to have it serviced for a grand total of $350.
In short, this year was a financial disaster as far as paying off debt went. This year was all about financial survival mode.
And that’s okay. Some years you can’t be gazelle intense or even pay any extra on your debt because you’re too busy just surviving.
Even though the year didn’t go the way we had planned, at all, it wasn’t a complete wash financially.
The good news is that we learned more creative ways to stretch our money even further. We’ll continue to implement those strategies this upcoming year.
The even better news is that we didn’t acquire any new debt.
Sometimes, treading water is the best you can do. Overall, for this year, I’m happy with that.
If you’re paying off debt, did you make the progress you wanted to this year, or did you have a year like ours?
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in Arizona where she dislikes the summer heat but loves the natural beauty of the area.