Diary of a Budgeting Success Story: Part Five—I've Arrived


For the last year, we’ve been checking in with Carrie Hart, a 44-year-old mother of two, from Traverse City, Michigan. After years of collecting debt, living beyond her means, and “avoiding anything related to actually learning how to manage money like a grown-up,” Carrie found YNAB. She agreed to let us follow her for a year, her first year of budgeting in real life. Here’s a little about her backstory and how she fared in those first few months. Even though progress was slow, she loved “knowing she was in the driver’s seat,” and at some point things really began to click.

Here is Carrie’s most recent update, in her own words:

Living in northern Michigan, we get lake effect snow, we live in a snow belt, and everything we own is covered in snow, but our Debt. Snowball. Is. Insane this winter!

Here’s a snapshot of our winter thus far:

$2,249 paid on debt in December 2015
$2,030 paid on debt in January 2016

The YNAB methods are working in me! I really didn’t believe I could change. It seemed my impoverished mentality about being financially successful was more powerful than the reality that I could actually be financially successful! Over the past months, this is a snapshot of what’s been developing in me.

It’s been said…

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

It began with my belief system. I had to quiet myself and take an honest look at my mindset with regard to money. I found stinkin’ thinkin’ FO’ SHOW’! I dared to believe that I could face this debt, and eventually become a master at budgeting! And sure enough…

My beliefs became my thoughts…

My thought processes about budgeting and finances began to change by consistently exposing my mind to truths a little each day. I did this by:

My thoughts changed and so did my words…

As my thoughts became healthier, my words about myself and my circumstances changed. This might sound completely crazy…but I began to tell myself [out loud] that I’m more than capable of becoming successful! I began to call myself [again, out loud] a winner, even when I didn’t feel like it! This became a powerful force in our home. When I’d succumb to stinkin’ thinkin’,  naturally I’d begin to have a bad day. My 11-year-old son would remind me that I’m a winner! “Momma…remember…you’re a winner. Now pick yourself up let’s start this day over!” (How can you even stand this? #proudMOMmoment) One day I found that he’d changed the name in my email account from Carrie Hart to Winnah Winnah Chicken Dinnah! LOL….

Those words changed my actions and habits…

Without much effort really, I began:

  • Focusing DAILY on “moving the needle.” (Per Jesse Mecham, “moving the needle” means going hard for a short period of time to gain some ground. This was a huge shift for me and began a ridiculously unstoppable momentum.)
  • Implementing small daily decisions that have a noticeable return over time. I had to take it day by day (urges to go outside the budget were controlled by telling myself, “Before you make this purchase, let’s wait to see what we THINK about this item tomorrow.” Nine times out of 10, if I could make it through the end of the day, my thoughts about the purchase changed.)
  • Prioritizing and simplifying. (I can’t tell you how freeing these principles are! I prioritize by giving each dollar a job and sticking to the plan. I simplify by focusing on how grateful I am for what I already have. We’re beginning to adopt a minimalist way of living.)

Again, this is crazy, but I’m telling you, these steps and YNAB are leading me to my destiny…

My destiny goals are to become credit card debt-free by December 1, 2016. This is doable. Do I deviate once in a while? Yes! But I believe I’m on my way…