Guest Post by Kari Patterson
We sat on her couch as I recounted my parenting woes. The more I dumped the more I felt overwhelmed. Little things, seemingly unrelated, heaped verbally into the air until I sat in a thick fog of my own creation. I shook my head and looked at her. Where do I start?
Her simple response became my guiding principle for resolutions since.
Pick one thing, and the rest will fall into place.
Pick one thing. She explained that usually all behavioral issues have the same – or at least a similar – root. By simply picking one thing you create a manageable plan, and as you conquer one particular area you inevitably notice many others falling in line as well.
Of course. We’ve heard this so often in different ways. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Baby steps. Tsh Oxenreider’s simple suggestion of limiting your to-do list to three Most Important Tasks each day. A few things successfully completed is far better than a list as long as your leg of things still left undone.
But aren’t we optimists always tempted to take on the world? Then there are the realists who just kick the whole goal-game to the curb. Really, why try? Because trying leads to failure … which leads to success.
That’s why simply quitting isn’t the answer – the answer is simply setting manageable and measurable goals for your new year. A few reachable goals that will give you the momentum to tackle even more.
Not sure where to start? Since we’re frugal-enthusiasts here, ask yourself some questions to narrow down what exactly you’re hoping to accomplish by your frugal living goals?
Are you wanting to save for a vacation? Pay off your house? Get out of debt? Teach your children money-management? Give more? Contribute to a college or retirement fund? Simplify your life?
Once you’ve figured our your big-picture goal, you can figure out some manageable and measurable resolutions for 2012. Think of these as steps toward your big-picture goal.
Here are a few frugal ideas to get you started:
- Shave $50 off the grocery budget.
- Cook four meals at home each week.
- Eliminate one eating-out meal each week.
- Choose one non-essential item to go without this year.
- Reduce by one the number of times you visit Starbucks each week.
- Switch to cash-only for at least one budget item (e.g., groceries).
- Three times this year practice going one full week eating only what’s already in your pantry.
- Switch-out one convenience-food item for a homemade item (e.g., whole chicken, homemade bread, homemade mac-n-cheese).
- Make yourself, kids, or husband (if he wishes) a brown-bag lunch one day a week.
- Try to save $25/month in a jar or separate savings account, then give the $300 you save to a worthy cause in December.
The key is manageable and measurable. Remember the power of momentum. If you can make one reasonable goal and reach it you’ll be far more likely to continue your forward momentum. Who knows, you might be amazed one day to see how far all those baby steps can take you over time.
Your turn! What are your manageable and measurable frugal-living goals for 2014? Please share so we can encourage and inspire each other.
Kari Patterson is pastor’s wife, preschool mommy, writer, speaker, reader, blogger, and frugal living enthusiast. She writes all about the beautiful mess of life over at karipatterson.com.
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