Tamera Schlueter Never tempt a werewolf on a mission

If you doubt the existence of werewolves, wave a warm chocolate chip cookie under the nose of a woman who recently started a diet, specifically the one writing this column. Go ahead. I dare you.

If you’re feeling especially brave, wave that cookie on zero-based budget writing night. That’s worth a double-dog dare. Be prepared to pull back a bloody stub.

I’ve mentioned a time or a hundred that I draft an aggressive list of annual resolutions when the clock strikes January 1. There is something about unwrapping a brand new year that ushers in a wave of fresh possibilities. I’m fairly serious about my pledges, too. As February knocks on the door — a time when most people have abandoned their resolutions like the habits they’d promised to break — I thought I’d finally share mine with the world. Well, with the 20 people who haven’t turned the page or sunk into a boredom- induced coma by now. God bless your wonderful hearts.

The year 2014 will, darn it, be the year Schlueterville finally gets its financial poop in a group. In fact, we’re three weeks into Financial Peace University, a nine-week, biblically- based class that chops up credit cards and tosses around the term “gazelle-like intensity” with wild abandon. The program forces you to take a good hard look at your saving, spending, and investment habits, with the goal of working toward the day when you can run down the street screaming, “We’re debt freeeeee!”

Hunka Burnin’ Hubby and I are completely on board, examining every expense with squinty-eyed severity. Cable TV is toast. Food expenses have been slashed, and clothing catalogs go straight to the recycle bin. Date night entertainment consists of a 5-mile walk and grilled cheeses made in a cast iron skillet. Color us exciting.

Each week we have homework, and this one finds us crafting a zero-based budget, which gives every incoming dollar a job. This chunk of dollars pays utilities. That one and his buddies cover groceries. Another batch goes in the Sunday collection plate. A few head to the savings account. You get the picture.

I’ve been a giant weenie about crafting and sticking to a serious monthly budget, which is why “Get Finances in Order” was written at the top of my resolution list in bright red ink. It’s high time I pull on my big girl pants and deal with my slovenly, spend-foolish self. I have lofty dreams involving generous acts of kindness and building a family legacy. There’s a lengthy bucket list, too, like seeing polar bears in the Arctic Circle, grizzly bears in Alaska, hiking the Grand Canyon, and renovating a tricked-out glamper. Life is better when hard-earned money works even harder for you.

Speaking of big girl pants, distance running is again on the list. I’m still mending from December foot surgery, so my running shoes are feeling neglected. My entire family registered for the Lincoln Half-Marathon on May 4th, so I’m begging my doctor to clear me for running next week. If you feel an impact tremor, it’ll be me lumbering laboriously through your neighborhood.

My body is a weight-collecting machine, and all this down-time has me viewing Spandex as one of man’s greatest inventions. Honestly, my dogs are beginning to run away when I bend over, fearing for the safety of their eyeballs should my waistband button go flying.

That brings us back to that warm chocolate chip cookie you’re thinking of waving under my budget-strapped, Spandex-squished, running- deprived nose. Are you truly prepared to see if werewolves really exist? Seriously? I triple-dog dare you.

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