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Debt Paydown: Time for an Attitude Adjustment

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I have been lazy and sliding backwards on more than one front. I did not track my spending or food intake for a couple of weeks. I spent more than I should have and I gained a couple of pounds instead of losing weight. Blame it on the rain, the snow, the cold—how do I blame it on the warm sunshine and 65 degree temperatures in Iowa in the middle of winter?

Today is a new day. I caught up with my backlog over the weekend and I am back on track with my spending and my food tracking. If I write it down, I don’t spend it or eat it. It holds me accountable. To help me stop making excuses, I downloaded android apps to track spending and food intake when I am not at home. I don’t go anywhere without my phone so I have no excuses to slide again. I can enter what I spend or what I eat on the run, I don’t have to look for receipts or notes. I faced my backslide this weekend and caught up on my tracking. This has given me incentive to go forward. A two-week vacation from tracking is two weeks too many. I need to see my progress in front of me at all times. I need to see my goals and final destination.

I did not want my backslide for the last couple of weeks to overshadow my successes, so I reviewed the past 12 months of income and expenses. My income increased 2% in July and an additional 1% in December. I paid 71% of my remaining credit card debt, 25% of my remaining auto debt, and 10% of my remaining mortgage. I increased my emergency fund by $5000 and my credit score by 22 points. I saw substantive growth in my retirement account and my 457 and 401 accounts. I did not really push myself on debt-reduction until June, so I am thrilled with my progress. I paid off the highest interest debts first, so I am seeing faster progress and greater interest savings. My credit card balance is lower than it has ever been in 25 years—and it will soon be zero. That is an achievement!

My expenses will increase a bit this month. My daughter will not be traveling for her job for a few weeks, so there will be an increase in food and utility consumption in my house. With the mild winter, I should break even if I control the food expenses and minimize evening meals outside of the house.

I am looking forward to an even better year of paying down debt and increasing my savings and retirement. And, I will be tracking it every step of the way.

Image: Johan Larsson, via Flickr.com

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