Accountability

Debt problems are rarely just a financial problem. Many factors contribute to how we manage (or mismanage) our money: emotions, circumstances, outside pressures, conflict with spouses/family, the weather…

Our family’s issues have mainly been over self-control and our mindset about money. Like typical Americans, we want what we want, when we want it, and feel like we “deserve” to get it.  Consequence: debt.

Example: It’s been a hard week. It’s Friday night. Everyone’s tired. I haven’t planned well, so we don’t have anything “easy” to eat. (And if you don’t have anything “easy” in the house, then you can say, “There’s nothing to eat!”) Of course, the kids quickly clamor for pizza, and since that sounds good to us, too, we order it…$45 later we realize that was a dumb idea, but evidently they don’t take half-eaten pizza back when you change your mind.  As you can see, we don’t wonder why we have debt problems – we KNOW.

Our first paradigm shift occurred when we began budgeting. We do a new budget every month based on that month’s income, and stick to it. (The “stick to it” is the hard part for me. I’m a planner – I like to sit down with the spreadsheet and put all the money where it goes. But I don’t like to actually FOLLOW it…)

This was our first lesson in accountability.

A budget didn’t magically fix our debt problems, though.  We didn’t ADD TO our current debt, but we weren’t getting out of it, either.  Every month we would reevaluate our budget and think about cutting things. Every line item came with an excuse, though – “It’s only $8, that’s not going to make a difference.” “But we NEED cable – what will the kids do without SpongeBob?”  Imagine an excuse, and we thought of it.

As things got harder and harder, our budget got tighter and tighter.  We began to realize that our excuses were only doing one thing: keeping us from getting out of the mess our debt problems were creating.  That’s the reason for sharing all of this publicly – I’m still tempted to buy shoes, or stop at McDonald’s on the way home, or a hundred other things, but I know my friends would have something to say about it.

I’ve gone from “It’s only a few dollars” to “No one’s spending ANYTHING!” in a matter of weeks. Just ask my husband – he’ll tell you. I’m a spending Nazi. But here’s the reason: THIS IS NOT FUN! And the less we spend now, the sooner we will get out of this mess!

I’ve set a goal. We might not reach it, it will be pretty intense, but here’s what I hope:

 

To accomplish this we WILL need help from our friends. No, I’m not asking for money (though, if you’re offering…) All we’re asking for is support. Encouragement. Accountability. Sometimes, advice. (Sometimes!)  But mostly just accountability. Because we need it. We all need it. Your problems might not be debt problems, but we all have things we’re fighting in our lives that are bigger than us.

So what about you? What goals in your life do you need support and accountability from your friends to accomplish? What friends do you go to?

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4 Responses to “Accountability”

  1. Pam McCormick says:

    My family finds it difficult in this culture/mind set to stick to our values and ignore the frenzy! My husband,daughter and son-in-law all feel the same about a simple frugal life.We all work(some multiple jobs), we cook from scratch,drive older cars blah blah.BUT extended family has different set of values, always have and it seems very difficult when we see them buy every new toy to live our values.It's just the truth- we couldn't afford all those toys any way but I can't lie I would love to be buying ipad,iphones or some other cool toy for my family.Don't get me wrong I am VERY grateful for all we have! just sometimes…I loved your statement that we all have things we are fighting/handling.I think we are all under a tremendous amount of stress.I love reading about your decisions,the planning to get out of debt and things that work even those things that did not help us all.

  2. Georgia says:

    We have entered into accountability with a couple from our church that we knew to be debt-free. I knew the only way we would stay on task would be to have someone that we would have to answer to. I write our budgets, and except for a few areas, we operate on a cash basis. Once the money goes to the envelopes, we juggle it around as needs present themselves, but we very rarely use our debit cards and we stopped doing some things that left unchecked was going to be the end of us financially. We've been working this plan for about 6 weeks now, which for us, is a lifetime. We still haven't started paying off debt. We're still "getting caught up." We have not been out to eat in 6 weeks, which for us, is unheard of.

    I stopped sending my kids to WeeSchool (saved $350/month).

    I fired the housekeeper. (saved $150/month)

    No more cable. (Saved over $50/month)

    YMCA cancelled. (Nearly $60/month saved.)

    Reduced phone bill. ($45/month saved.)

    And it's not like we have $600 a month to pay toward debt. Now we have to actually budget for items that we were spending anyway: insurance, Christmas/birthdays, haircuts, clothing, vehicle maintenance, medical expenses.

    But we are working the plan, and that alone, makes it where I can sleep at night.

    • Lindsay says:

      I understand completely! Without accountability we are all on our own – and that means we can justify our expenses to our hearts' content. That's one of the reasons for this blog – if I'm going to be open and honest (with all of my closest friends?!) it is going to change the way we behave with our money.

      Thanks for sharing. :)

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