Reflections on 2017

Friday January 12, 2018 – Columbus, Indiana

Looking back to last year, I can easily it was one of the best years as far as accomplishments, even though there were many goals that I set were not met. Think about that, I am proud even when the goals I set were not met, how can that be. My number 1 goal for 2017 was to buy a house, I tried to do it and was unable to do; the reason was that I did not know what was needed to fulfill it and I was not ready to do it. Goal Number 2 was to get a promotion and I did accomplish that; here is the kicker, this is not what I’m most proud of in 2017. My greatest accomplishment in 2017 was not even a goal at the beginning of the year, it was not even a goal by October 2017. Getting a deep understanding of my finances is my greatest accomplishment of 2017.

Looking at my records, I’ve had an Excel Budget since 2007 when I changed jobs and Debora stopped working, and almost every year we’ve set up a family budget. I thought that was enough, to know if our planned expenses would be covered by our income, yet we had good months and bad months. Questions about what we could afford was gut check that would lead us to hitting our spending breaks way ahead of the next paycheck. I felt that I was failing, if only we would stick to the theoretical budget we would be fine, a fleeting hope that never materialized.

Coming back from our summer vacation where our expenses were so far off our budget I turned my concern into action. I opened the 2017 Budget and added a column called expenses, then another with the difference. I pointed my browser to my checking account and started adding the values into each of the budget’s categories. Two months after, I had added my savings accounts and started tracking movements across accounts and had a tab for each paycheck, then a workbook for each month. In November I had tabs for each credit card, loan, and savings account; this changed my life.  I am so proud, happy, elated about these new revelations; I know exactly why I could not buy a house in 2017 and I’m happy I didn’t.

I am looking forward to a good 2018, I’m actually looking forward to better understand my financial situation and do something about it. The greatest consequence of wrangling the financial beast is that I feel I can wrangle other beasts in my life. I want to understand my health, my time management, my work habits, my exercise patterns, etc. I recognize a formula that works: define, measure, analyze, improve, control; straight out of the Six Sigma playbook. I’m so happy to start 2018 and looking forward to the new challenges.


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash