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January 2011

The year is no longer new and novel. I’ve stopped accidentally writing “2010” on my checks, though I still double-check the date before sealing envelopes. New Year’s resolutions often don’t last past the first month of the year, so it’s time to see how “average” I am — how much I am like the typical American who doesn’t stick to the lofty goals set at the beginning of the year. For the record, I don’t see dropping goals as a problem, because setting the goals, and thinking about the type of person you want to be or the accomplishments that mean the most to you, is almost as important as reaching those goals. The better those goals are, the longer it will take, too.

As usual and expected, I’ve already had some successes and not-yet-successes in 2011. Here is how I’m doing so far in comparison with my goals for 2011.

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Some things are beyond our control, and having a happy and fulfilling life requires accepting those things we cannot change. It’s possible, however, to control more than we believe we can.

Right before I first started on my journey of getting my life and finances in shape, I left a low-paying job that depleted my money and increased my debt, I lived in a terrible apartment in a bad area, and the relationship with my girlfriend at the time ended. Most of my life seemed beyond my control for years leading up to that point. These bad things continued happening to me, and there was nothing I could do about it. Of course, a series of bad choices — including, in some cases, not making any choice at all — resulted in these bad situations, but I didn’t want to see it that way.

My boss at this company often talked about how every aspect of our lives is a result of a choice that we make. For example, in his opinion, someone who was late coming to the office due to traffic was primarily at fault for not preparing for delays by leaving home well in advance. Someone who oversleeps, even if the alarm does not wake him, makes a conscious decision that lying in bed is more worthwhile than getting out of bed and living life. At some point, something clued me into attribution theory. I was attributing various outcomes in my life to situations beyond my control, and I had a low opinion of my self-efficacy.

After some introspection, I was able to see that both the good and the bad things that happened in my life were results of the decisions I made, and I began approaching my life differently. The choices I made were making a difference in my life, so I started making better choices. It hasn’t all been perfect since then, and I am constantly trying to improve everything about me, but my mind is in a different space than it was ten years ago.

All of the items below are within our control.

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Those listening to the Consumerism Commentary Podcast may have noticed that our latest episode, featuring guest David Bach, was hosted by a new voice. Our long-time producer, Tom Dziubek, is currently taking a hiatus from the show to explore a great job opportunity, and we wish him the best of luck. We’re happy to have an experienced podcast host and producer filling in for the next few months.

Bryan J Busch is an all-around, genre-agnostic content creator. He has been producing his own podcast for several years, and he produced a video for Consumerism Commentary last year, Television of the Future. Bryan was also an early guest of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, featured alongside J.D. Roth. In addition to his experience with audio and video production, Bryan is also a photographer. Bryan is at home whether behind or in front of the camera or microphone, with experience as a stand-up comedian and an improv comedy performer.

Meet Bryan.

To round out a busy week, consider reading some of the articles I contributed to other websites recently.

Saving for Retirement. The financial industry certainly wants us to use their services as much as possible, but the more of your income you lock away, the less you have to live your life today. What is the right balance? There’s always a risk of not living until you have the chance to retire. What will you regret not doing when you had the chance?

Save $1,000 on Your Tax Bill. There’s a little-known credit that offers low-income households an incentive for putting money away for retirement. The credit is a little elusive, because those who would qualify often struggle with making their regular household expenses, let alone invest for retirement.

Here are more articles I enjoyed this week. [click to continue…]

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Today’s guest on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast is David Bach, author of Debt Free For Life: The Finish Rich Plan for Financial Freedom, the latest in the Finish Rich series of books and online tools. David, Flexo and Bryan discuss financial changes in the last year, the national trend toward paying down debt, the Done of Last Payment (DOLP) program and Equifax DebtWise™.

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript for a description of DebtWise™. The service carries a monthly fee of $14.95, but is free for the first month if you follow this link.

Get Equifax DebtWise Now!

Consumerism Commentary Podcast #93
Debt Free for Life, David Bach: S04E15 / 116

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Table of contents

[00:00] Introduction from Bryan J Busch
[00:38] Interview with David Bach
[00:56] Success stories from 2010
[02:23] Good debt vs. bad debt
[03:45] Which debts are worthwhile risks?
[05:54] The new crisis of student loan debt
[06:31] Subsidizing school and exorbitant tuition
[09:20] Buying an expensive home just to get the tax deduction
[10:54] Searching for blame and deciding to take action
[15:14] DOLP and personal stories
[18:57] Equifax DebtWise™
[24:03] Reducing credit card interest rates
[26:20] Bankruptcy options and pitfalls
[29:16] Credit counseling options
[32:32] Looking ahead to 2011
[34:18] End

We always welcome feedback from listeners. If you have any comments for this episode or for any other, or if you have suggestions for future episodes, please leave us comments here or email us at podcast at this domain name.

Theme music by Mindcube.

Full transcript

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