Staying Motivated in the New Year

I feel like 2018 crashed into me.

Not only did the new year begin, but January came and went. I can already feel February slipping away.

I’m someone who adores New Year’s resolutions. They bring me great satisfaction as do lists and goals and other “gold star sticker” related activities. I’m sure if I ever shed my Midwest “we don’t talk about it” roots and embraced therapy there would be many sessions dedicated to why I need performance based validation, but that’s for another day. What’s notable is that I did not set New Year’s goals this year. In fact, I didn’t even go out for NYE for the first time in my entire adult life (and maybe my entire teenage life…?) which feels indicative of the type of year it’s going to be.

No more short-term gratification. No more “today I announce how I will optimize my life!” No more marking a specific day to hold specific meaning. Rather, I’m taking the long view and the slow burn. Every day is a day to work toward our goals and every day is a day to make special and to embrace with gratitude.

Since the Lola Retreat in August my husband and I have gotten our student loan debt down from $165K to $140K. I have high hopes for where we can get it by the end of the year. And while I want this debt to be gone, gone, gone – I’m finding I am feeling less panicky about it. I’m trusting in myself, in my husband and the process. We have put a lot in motion to lower our expenses, we are both actively working to increase our salaries and we are staying in tune with the flow of our money.

Oh. And I’m consuming an endless amount of personal finance content.

What’s weird is I don’t know that I’m necessarily learning a ton of technical stuff with all this finance consumption. I understand investing basics, I don’t “leave money on the table” with my 401k, and the concept of spending less than what I make is not revolutionary. But I love the stories. I love hearing people’s journeys to where ever they are trying to get. I feel tremendous comfort (and maybe some horror) in the solidarity of our country’s collective mess of personal finances. Here’s what’s been keepin me inspired:

Dave Ramsey – I know, I know. He’s super polarizing. But I think there is really something to his baby steps approach and focusing on one thing at a time with intensity. I also LOVE the debt free screams. I passively stream his show at all sorts of hours of the day listening to the radio call-ins. I also started branching out to some of the other “Dave Ramsey Personalities” like Chris Hogan.

Debts to Riches – I read a lot of blogs, but something about the tone of this one has really stuck with me. She’s working toward paying off her debt, yet you can feel so much more evolution of her perspective on life happening as well. Digging in about what matters, the joy that is stolen from comparison and staying intensely focused. I can relate to her story a lot.

Bitches Get Riches – Funny and informative, I love all their posts. This is one of the blogs where I feel like I am actually learning stuff I don’t know or haven’t considered before.

So Money – Just started listening to this more. She interviews a lot of the usual suspects, but also has a wealth of knowledge.

Frugalwoods – This was my gateway drug into all of this (I mean, minus that Suze Orman book I read obsessively in my early 20s). I still have a deep respect for them (and want to read her book!), but now that they’ve met their goal I find it’s not meeting me in my same mind space right now. But I will always be loyal. I also like that they have kids! So few of the FIRE people have kids…

Our Next Life – Same as Frugalwoods. Now that they are retired, I am interested, but it’s a passive read.

Cait Flanders – Really love her Year of Slow series.

#debtfreecommunity – I didn’t know you could follow hashtags on Instagram. I guess it’s a thing and I love it. My feed is flooded with all sorts of random people documenting their debt free journey. It’s a good burst of motivation to break up the pics of babies and dogs.

That’s where I am right now. I’m looking forward to the April Lola Retreat to check in with others and feel good about my commitment to the long game of financial happiness.




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