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08/19/2013

Marathon Training…

This topic couldn’t have come at a more opportune time!  I was reminded that today was the 5th annual Madison Mini-Marathon as I saw lots of pictures on Facebook of friends and acquaintances who finished the race today.  Tonight as I was walking the dogs, I tried to pull my thoughts together on what this week’s blog was going to be about.  As I walked, I was listening to The Dave Ramsey Show on iHeartRadio and Dave spoke to one of his callers about his financial journey being a marathon, not a sprint.  That was my Aha moment! 

I’ve never been a real runner.  I don’t like spending money on expensive running shoes, I haven’t invested in reflective running attire, and I definitely don’t like running when the weather isn’t set to my standards.  I am, however, envious of those who DO like to run, are ambitious at creating a plan and sticking to it, and I have always dreamed that someday I would be disciplined enough to run a half marathon or maybe even a full 26.2 miles.

It sounds eerily similar to how we managed our money pre-Project Money.  We weren’t real about setting our plan into action, we didn’t like talking about money, and yet we still dreamed about living debt-free.  We had it all wrong!  It was like we thought we were going to wake up one morning, put our running shoes on, and run that full marathon without training for it at all.  Duh!  We were setting ourselves up to fail before we even got out of the house!

You see, healthy money management is much like training for a marathon.  If you make a plan, work hard at it, and discipline yourself, you can make it happen!  We’ve become huge fans of Dave Ramsey and his radio program thanks to Coach Chris and Dave often tells his listeners “training for an endurance race is something you have to take in small bites.”  Sure, we’d love to put a big dent in our debt, like sprinting out in front of the pack from the starting line or running 15 miles on our first training day, but doing that would likely prevent us from finishing the race all together because we’d miss the key points you learn in the short training distances.  Case in point: we would have looked right over tracking our expenses and implementing our needs into a working budget if we had first just started throwing money at our debt.  We would have missed all-together how living on a budget could effectively put more money in our pocket to put toward debt or into a savings account!

Training for a marathon, or a debt-free life in our case, takes an extreme amount of discipline.  As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, we thought that we had a budget before starting Project Money.  The truth is we were just plain lazy when it came to implementing that budget and we lacked discipline.  If we had been training for a marathon and we decided not to run for a week or two and diverted from our plan, it would make it more difficult to reach the finish line, right?  We could still get there; it just might take a little longer (or A LOT longer in our case!).

This is where Chris comes in…we call her Coach Chris for a reason!  Just like an avid runner might rely on a trainer or training program to train for a marathon, we have Chris.  She isn’t running the race for us, but she is there to support us, guide us, and coach us along our own kind of marathon.  It is our responsibility to do the work; to track our spending, to know what our debts are and where our money is going, to be honest with ourselves and set attainable goals. 

Our journey with Project Money is not a seven-month sprint; rather a life-long marathon that we will need to continue to train for even after the contest is over.  The months ahead are critical for implementing life-changing habits and staying committed to the training that we’ve already completed.  If we become lazy now, we will only inhibit our chances of reaching our debt-free finish line sooner, and that’s something that we certainly aren’t willing to give up on!

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And unlike crossing the finish line of the marathon, your financial marathon will probably continue for the rest of your lives. So set your goals and aspire to reach the little ones every day. I once heard a wise old man tell me, "watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves" and you know he was right.

Take care and good luck!

It is true - definately a marathon. Of course we want to win the $10k, but the things we are learning are lifetime things!! I love your Coach Chris and our Coach Kris!!!

One other thing I was thinking - during one of our meetings with Coach Kris, I was complaining (shocking, right??!) that we do we have to track every dollar, every cent?? She told me that the people she's coached over the years - the ones that were the "richest" are the ones who track every penny - the ones who had the most knew exactly where every penny went!! Something to think about...

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