May is such a busy month.  School is winding down and everyone is cramming in as many last minute projects and programs as possible.

It’s tough to keep the good habits in place that we’ve adjusted to over the past several months.  Buying lunch is so much easier than packing one!  But we’re mostly successful.

The #yearofno is still on!

May Check In Time

Smart Goals May Check In: This family is marching on towards their big goal of paying off debt See how their #yearofno is getting them where they want to be.

Home and Barn

  • Get a water plan in place.  Also tabling this idea for now.  We want to totally focus on debt repayment.
  • Barn driveway.  We have decided to scrap this idea.  It would be really helpful to get this up and running, but it just isn’t important enough to invest our money in this #yearofno.
  • Improve goat pens and fencing.  Reinforcements done, big pen built.  One more permanent repair to make here.
  • Finish the bathroom project.  There are some small painting mistakes to correct, but this is largely finished!
  • Paint baseboards and staircase.  All I can say is that I must really hate the thought of painting, because I could give you 100 lame excuses as to why I’m not doing this.  ????  (The craziness of May is my excuse this month!)

Family

  • Swimming.  This will be a summer goal.
  • Vacation.  Need to discuss a destination and date, probably will scale this back to a very simple trip.
  • One on One Time with Each Child Once+ per Month.  It’s been too hard to do this right now, but each child is involved in their own team.

Marriage

  • Date.  I was suprised and excited to actually get this done!  We really needed some time together.

Personal

Blogging Goals

  • Improve social media.  Would like to have 5,000 Twitter followers, 600 Facebook likes, and want to have 3,500 pins to my Pinterest page by year end.
    • Now have 3,790 Twitter followers, 363 Facebook likes, 2458 pins (and 919 Pinterest followers).
  • Learn.  Take 12 classes on ways to improve my blogging.
  • Views.  Right now I have about 6,000 pageviews per month.  I’d like to increase that to 18,000 pageviews per month by the end of the year.  I’ll do this by adding the best content I can write, encouraging my readers to share when they like what they’ve read, and getting out into the blogging community as much as possible.
    • 9974 for February
    • 8990 (down from the bump I got from my MSM post)
    • 10,236 in April
  • Guest post.  I’d like to start writing at least 1 guest post per month.
  • Monetize.  I need this blog to earn some money to help with our BHAG, so I will be exploring ways to monetize when I can.  The main goal of this blog is to help people as much as possible, so I will only explore ways to earn money that are truly beneficial to my readers.  (Otherwise, I’m sure I won’t have those readers for long!)
    • I’ve earned money through sponsors and selling posts so far.

[Tweet “Time for a monthly check in with the #yearofno. Are we going to meet our #BHAG? #debtfreeoneday”]

The BHAG

Our family has a BHAG this year.  A big, hairy, audacious goal.  That goal is to pay off some debt that amounts to 19% of our take home pay.  Our plan for this goal is…

  • #yearofno  This has become our mantra, and the whole family is behind it now.  They know that if they are asking for an extra (Can we have fast food? Can I have this toy?  etc) that the answer is going to be #yearofno.  It’s kind of turned into a running joke, and it needs no explanation.
  • Be prepared.  Not eating fast food is a running theme on this blog, because it’s always been a problem for us!  Pizza, stopping for drinks, these things are our family’s worst habits.
    • In January we were able to go totally without fast food.
    • In February, we bought fast food and had pizza.  Both of those things happened due to an extended visit to the ER with a sick child.  Therefore, I’ve amended this to say “No fast food or pizza runs unless you’ve been in the ER in the past 24 hours.”
    • In March, we stopped for $1 ice cream cones as a special spring break treat.  No fast food otherwise, no pizza.  Woohoo!
    • In April we did stop for fast food once.  Something popped up at the very last minute on an already too busy day.  But we chose cheap options and made it clear that we weren’t making this a habit.
  • Bigger pie.  The blog was able to bring in a few extra bucks, but I’ve chosen to reinvest them back into the blog.  We were able to pay off our van!  This should help us with an extra debt payment every month.
  • Get creative.  I’ve discovered that once I spend a dollar, it’s easier to spend $2.  So I’m trying to avoid spending even more than before.  It’s amazing how many things we really don’t need at all!

So how did we do on our BHAG?

To bring down 100% of our goal this year, we need to be paying 8.3% on this debt every month.  Here’s how it’s going.

Because it’s hard to show percentage paid while accounting for interest, I’m going to just tell you the total percentage of the original bill rather than individual percentages for each month.  We are discussing moving the balance to a 0% interest card, but only if we can get a credit card with no balance transfer fees.

In January we were able to bring down our debt by 8.2%.  (Read about that here.)

In February we took it down a running total of 12.9%.

It is progress, but not what I was hoping for!  The good news is that I have learned a lot from this (read When Paying Off Debt is Discouraging).

In March we brought the balance down a running total of 22.2%.  This made up for the rough February number!  We reached that amount by investing the tax return money we had planned to spend on our driveway.  We also made a few smaller “snowflake” payments due to an unanticipated refund check we got from a utility company and the meager yard sale earnings I made.  And obviously we made our usual planned payment.

In April we were able to get our balance down 29.1%.  That’s not too bad, but we’d like to be doing better!  Our time is extremely limited during baseball season, so we will likely have to make up any differences in payments later in the year.

The plan for May

  • Keep up the good work we’ve been doing with the #yearofno by avoiding “want” spending.  During baseball season, this means packing a lot of drinks and food for on the go meals and snacks.
  • Continue lowering our grocery bill by careful and creative shopping.  My shopping method has been giving me plenty of wiggle room for stocking up, and I think my bill will continue to go down over time.
  • I’ve decided to learn more about freelance writing and User Testing.  Hope to put some of that in action this month.  Also will continue applying to research studies.

If you’d like to help us meet our goal, remember that any click through referral or affiliate links on this blog gives us a small payment without changing your out-of-pocket costs.  (However, I would never ask you to buy anything that would put a speed bump in your own frugal journey!)

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Be sure to drop a comment telling how your own goals or debt payments are going!

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