As the 52-week challenge is quickly coming to the the last task, we want to encourage you to take this week and use it to make an honest review of your progress and efforts during this challenge.
It completely brings to mind an article that I just wrote on our other health site regarding weight-loss and health goals.
I had just hit a one-year mark on my fitness and health goals. I cannot believe, by God’s grace, how far I have come and what a difference one-year made in my personal life. If you want to know what started this process, I encourage you to check out our 90-Day Fitness and Health Challenge that jump started my progress and that Cassie has already used to lose 25 pounds!
But, we’ve had the same experiences in our financial life as well. Once we set goals and became serious (years ago when we started and created this process) it was amazing to see the progress made in one year’s time. Even if we didn’t hit every goal, even if we didn’t become debt-free in one year, even if we missed a few week’s of the savings goals, we knew that we had made HUGE progress from where we were at the previous year.
And that is what counts. Looking back to your financial situation one year ago will hopefully have changed for the positive.
It takes time, work and a good amount of commitment and effort to make big (even small) financial changes.
So it is time to give a self-assessment. An honest look at what you’ve accomplished this year. Basically, a year-in-review.
During this challenge, we’ve covered many topics:
- Goal Setting
- Paying off Debt
- Ways to make money and generate more money
- Frugal alternatives to costly bills
- Continuous ideas for decreasing spending
- Kitchen, grocery and menu tips
- Credit issues
- Future planning
- Important financial documents
What we want you to do is to go through the list of challenges and evaluate each category and rate you and your family’s progress, efforts and results.
Determine what worked, what hasn’t and what you can do differently. Each and every year is a new opportunity to improve and to make some big changes.
Just like I have stated on my other blog: A Year From Now, You’ll Be Glad You Started Today!
Another line I am famous for (at least for those that I talk to face-to-face) is “don’t despise the days of small beginnings…” (do you recognize the reference?)
We want to really encourage you in this thought. If this was your first year doing a financial challenge, you may or may not have seen the results you’ve hoped for. But let me tell you a story.
You see, years ago when we set out a goal to pay over $100k in consumer debts, we didn’t have our 2×2 plan. In 3.5 years, we had paid off only around $15k and had a lot of troubles, the wrong attitudes, wrong perspective and really just kept falling off the bandwagon because we set so many unrealistic goals. It was frustrating, irritating and discouraging.
We had just over $85k left to pay off and at the rate we were going ($5k average a year), it was going to take another 17 years to pay it off!
Instead of us trying to go “all-in” just to keep failing and falling off the bandwagon, that’s when we developed our 2×2 plan. It was a small beginning. In the first year, we saw progress, it was much slower than we had hoped, but it was much further than we ever made in the first 3.5 years.
We continued with our small changes and the second year was much, much better. By the third year, we had made such a HUGE amount of progress with our small beginnings (the first 2 years on this new plan) that we knocked it out of the park and paid off all of the rest of our debts.
We tell others that we paid of $85k in 3 years after failing the first 3.5 years by only paying $15k. But, when it comes to the nitty gritty, MOST of that was paid in year #3 because of all of those small beginnings. That third and final year was certainly an EPIC year financially and we could not believe how the debts were rolling down that final year. We had made small steps, changes and progresses that led the way to huge breakthroughs.
I feel that if we hadn’t focused on the small changes and always kept disappointing ourselves with unrealistic expectations, we would be on year #10 of paying off our debts with another 7 to go; that is, assuming we wouldn’t have given up by this point due to the snail progress.
So as you are going through this year-in-review, we want to encourage you to look at the little picture and the small progress and changes made, rather than taking a high-level view and seeing, perhaps, how much further you have to go.
In our own personal lives, as we have taken this step many times in our financial journey and reviewed our progress, we are ever reminded and grateful for the provision and grace of God in this area. We pray and are thankful that he blesses our efforts on a daily basis and recognize that He has made it possible and it is ultimately by His grace. We will continue to work hard and continue to do what we can with this understanding.
Need to catch up? Come join us on this challenge from the very beginning by clicking on the 52-Week Take Back Your Finances Challenge and sign up to start receiving your automated challenge from the very beginning!
One final thing…we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!
Disclaimer: We are not licensed financial planners. We are only a couple that have been just a hair-breadth away from bankruptcy and found our way out of debt with a goal to now help others. Please make sure to consider any advice given on our site and in this challenge as tips we have used ourselves; they may not work for everyone. If you have questions please make sure to contact a licensed professional.