didn't realize how much I was going to learn, personally, when I
asked you all for your New Year's resolutions. I thank you for giving
me so much to think about this year. I will be adding many of your
resolutions to my own.
First off, 84% of us are making New
Year's resolutions, but only 28% say they usually follow through. I know myself
that if I set out to accomplish a goal and run into a few obstacles
that there is a chance I may throw in the towel.
When this happens, when challenges
arise and you seem to stop working toward your goal just remember
that it's not over. You haven't failed. You can only fail if you
If you find that you've stopped
pursuing your goal--don't give up! Simply start right back like
you've never stopped. Every step you take toward your goal gets you
The Chinese Tao Ta Ching says,
"People fail when they are on the verge of success. A tree as
big around as a person's embrace begins with a small shoot; a
terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth; a journey of
a thousand miles starts under one's feet therefore, put as much care
into the end as into the beginning and there will be no
When I wanted to stop smoking my goal
was to go as long as I could without having the next cigarette--not
to quit. So far it's been six years.
There were other times that I
though that I quit. I once went nearly one year without having a
cigarette, but then one day I caved and had one. After that I figured
that since I had one it's over, and I went right back to
Before my last cigarette six years
ago I started to slow down by seeing how long I could go without
smoking and not beating myself up when I did smoke.
If I was able to
not smoke for five hours then I was successful because it was a few
cigarettes less that day and I was moving toward my goal. Instead of
getting upset about the one cigarette that I had when I felt weak, I
focused on the success from the hundreds I had not smoked.
It took two years before I stopped
thinking about smoking every single day! Finally, I can say "no" to
smoking without feeling like I'm missing it, but that doesn't mean
I've quit. I can never let my guard down, I must always work on this
It's the same with your debt. You can
always start paying on time, getting organized, and find the best
credit deals. Just start today and you will find success!
The resolutions everyone submitted
seem to fit into different categories. Each of the resolutions
discussed below is a grouping of many submitted by DebtSmart
FINANCIAL RESOLUTIONS (My
Resolution: "Equip my children to be frugal and
Comments: This is on my list
also. I need
to get my kids interested in learning about money, understanding its
value, and teach them how to track income and spending.
Resolution: "Follow a budget, stick to my budget at least 90%
of the time, use my calendar to plan for one-time expenses
(e.g., car insurance, license renewal, etc.), and take better care
of my finances (what little I have)."
Comments: The best method to control where
the money is going is to use a budget. Figure out how much you're
spending in each category and decide if that amount needs to be
Resolution: "Get out of debt, start to get out of debt, pay
down credit cards, pay down existing debt, pay off debts, no
additional debt, pay cash (instead of credit cards), to lower debt
by $2500 by December 2002, and reduce credit card debt."
Comments: This is what DebtSmart is
all about. The good news is that it can be done and the bad news for
the banks is that they're not going to gouge the life out of DebtSmart readers!
Resolution: "Make more money, save money, put away for my
baby's college fund, and find a better job."
Comments: There are two major
components to reducing debt: (1) lowering the cost of existing debts
and (2) getting more money to pay off debts. Once you start to look
for ways to earn extra money you'll begin to see that the list of
options is larger than you originally thought. Look online! Start a business,
sell your stuff at online auctions, look for a higher paying job,
etc. We'll be covering all these topics in greater detail in future
articles. If you already have a great way to earn extra money please
let us know so we can let all DebtSmart readers in on your success
Resolution: "Be thankful everyday."
Comments: That's for sure! The way I
see it is that life is certainly
not fair and everyone isn't handed the same cards so we should
always be thankful for everything we do get!
Resolution: "Finish remodeling the bathroom."
Comments: I can use to do few home
remodeling jobs myself. I can do it, however I need to learn to
enjoy the process of that handy-man stuff--although I do enjoy the
Resolution: "Learn to listen--by the end of the year, I hadn't
gotten any better. Now I'm studying to be a court mediator and they
teach you to listen!"
Comments: That's one I certainly need
to keep in mind. It's always important to be aware of when you're
listening or if you're really just waiting for your turn to talk. I
have to really focus sometimes to listen.
Resolution: "I will pursue a great attitude and keep a positive
Comments: You can control your
attitude by choice, so chose to have a good one. Whenever I feel
that my attitude is not positive, then ask myself this question, "What can I do right now to make my
attitude positive?" When you ask yourself that question you'll
get the answer.
Resolution: "Keep house cleaner, not to be a slave to the
Internet, stop chewing nails, and stop smoking."
Comments: These are certainly some
tough items. With any of these I would measure success
by heading toward the goal no matter how small the step. Cleaning one
room, taking a one-hour break from the computer, chewing one less
nail, and having one less cigarette each day. Breaking a big task
into smaller tasks makes it seem less daunting.
Resolution: "Go to graduate school."
Comments: People often ask my advice
about investing. Investing in real estate, the stock market, bonds,
or money markets. I believe that the best investment you can make is
in yourself. Improving, learning, testing your ideas, starting your
own business, and anything else that comes from your mind and heart.
That's the first place to invest!
Resolution: "I always make a resolution to learn to do
something new. This year I want to learn to shoot a gun. It is
something very different for me, as I am an intellectual, a grandma,
Comments: I'm with you on this one.
Although I'm not anti-gun, I still wouldn't want to own one since
I'm not trained, plus I have no interest in having it around the
house (three small kids). However, I'm thinking it's time for me to
at least learn how to handle a gun properly, in case someday, I ever
Resolution: "Lose weight (in order to) lower blood
pressure and reduce risk of diabetes, and lose 10 pounds in the year
Comments: When I was in high school I
wrestled in the 98 to 108-pound weight class. By the time I was in
college I couldn't even make it to 118. Now, one lifetime later, at
age 36 (on January 7th), I'm at 157. Definitely a little overweight
and I can feel it! I am going to focus on getting back into at least
the 140 zone by the end of the year.
Resolution: "Take better care of my body and eat
Comments: "You are what
you eat" is what they told me in grammar school. My plan is to ask myself
before I eat something, "Do I really need this food or am I only eating
for taste." If the answer is the latter then I'll skip eating.
Comments: A recently released study
found that people who exercise score better on intelligence tests.
The study also said that people's test scores went down when they
stopped working out (jogging). The study was conducted by Dr. Kisou
Kubota of Nihon Fukushi University in Handa, Japan. More proof of
what we all suspected; we need both knowledge in the mind and
strength in the body.
Resolution: "Develop closer relationship with God and keep
doing my best to do God's will."
Comments: Learning from you is one of
the greatest benefits in running this email newsletter. When we did
the survey I didn't even think about this type of resolution. After
reading these resolutions, I decided to think more deeply about my
Resolution: "Relax and enjoy life more and slow down."
Comments: Sometimes I do forget to
take it easy. I'll make it a point to be sure to relax at least one
day each week and one hour each day.
Resolution: Go on a trip
Comments: I certainly will go a few
relaxing trips but they'll be inexpensive. There's so much to do
without spending a lot of money. For example, I really enjoy staying
in cabins in the state parks (here in New Jersey). It's very
reasonable, less than $30 per night in some places, for a cabin with
a fireplace. The only catch is that you have to reserve the cabin
well in advance because they get booked quickly.
Resolution: Try a new recipe weekly.
Comments: Hmmm, this may go against
my "don't eat for taste" resolution. :)
Thanks again for sharing your
wonderful New Year's resolutions!