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Starting 2013 a bit early

I did not tame the dragon very well this month. After getting off to a stellar start in November, my greatest challenge for December … was getting this blog written.  

Taking you back to my November challenge, I was trying to save $1,000 in 30 days. I want to report that I did try, but I couldn’t hit that number. I did come pretty close, though, saving just over $700.

Of course, some end-of-the-month, unexpected expenses cut that number in half, but I learned two valuable lessons in the process.

No. 1: Many of the actions I took in November didn’t actually save me money in November. They did, however, set me up to save money during the next 12 months.   While each savings might be small, incrementally I eliminated more than $1,900 in expenses and added $2,000 in income for my 2013 budget. I thought this was a pretty great way to start out the year.

No. 2: Even though I had to dip into my new-found savings to pay for those unexpected expenses, it was absolutely better to do that rather than try and de-frost the credit card I had stored in a block of ice in the deep freezer.

In the face of the holidays and all the shopping that goes along with it, truly my greatest challenge for December has been continuing what I started in November and staying on track.  

My second December challenge, though, was starting to do the things that I would normally put off until Jan. 1 – getting organized, cleaning out my closet, planning ahead, getting back to the gym ...

As I learned with my money-saving challenge, what you do now won’t necessarily give you immediate results, but it will set you up for success in the future. I figure, why wait? If I start now, they will be paying off in January!

So, this month I am getting organized, staying on track with my budget, cleaning out my closet and looking at my calendar.

I figure three out four isn’t bad. The gym ... well, I see no need to take on too much at once here.

• Meredith Schaefer is a mother of two boys, a dog and two guinea pigs who works hard to juggle all aspects of her life. She has decided to take on a monthly challenge in the pursuit of becoming a stronger, smarter, healthier and more well-balanced woman. She will share her experiences in this blog.

“Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon, and the gift is yours.” ~ Noela Evans