Happy New Year!

It’s actually very difficult for me to stir up excitement about the New Year. Thanksgiving packs a punch with gratitude for the past year. Christmas is a time of reflection, it being the anniversary of the night my husband and I began dating. Then comes New Year’s. My family did not celebrate it much. I had a few great dates with my man before we married, but along came children and out went New Year’s Eve celebrations. I love the idea: the revelry, the reflection, new chances. I just can’t stir up the excitement.

Putting that downer aside, there are some life improvements in the works. We’re about to have another baby, which is always an improvement on the status quo, albeit a chaotic one.

I purchased a monthly planner from Target, which is beautiful. My loving husband bought a fancy fountain pen for me. I believe in the richness of the sensory experience tied to reading books. I believe it engages our minds in ways that digital world just cannot. So with that philosophy in mind, I thought I’d give a printed calendar a try. It will help with scheduling new business clients and as I do not use an internet phone, I’ll be able to access my calendar without needing the internet. Revolutionary, no?

One of my proudest moments is from last part of 2015, I took stock of our finances. I enjoy crunching numbers, paying attention to details, getting caught up in the minutiae. So while my husband is the main provider, I do the finances. While we never racked up credit card debt, it felt like each bill took me by surprise. Savings was going down and stress going up. We fell into the mindset of using the credit card to spend the money we’d earn the following pay period.

Again, while this wasn’t detrimental to our security and lives, it wasn’t healthy. I felt that they key was the abstract nature of using the credit card. I dug out an accounting pad I received from my father many years ago (I took an accounting class in high school) and began recording everything: cash spent, credit card purchases, debit card purchases, income, income from store returns. Every transaction.

To any one who ever balanced a check book, this will not sound amazing. But really, with online banking, how many of us let that practice go completely? And even for those who did or do it, what about cash purchases?

I put the numbers on paper. I add and subtract with each transaction. Credit card bills are no longer a surprise because they are already accounted for.

This process created the mindfulness needed to really get on top of our spending. The problem was not so much a problem for my husband, but for me, and this was the solution. So while, we still have things we can do better (saving more from unexpected income), I’m so pleased to say that now, at the end of the pay period, instead of nail biting, we have double the amount we would have had two months ago.

It’s a little lesson, but I’m proud of it. Writing it down, being able to glance at it any time without going on the computer, adding the numbers myself all adds mindfulness to the practice of spending and receiving.

It’s a small personal triumph. What, in the past year, have you found works for you, has solved a problem, has made you feel proud of your accomplishments?

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