Spring: A Fresh Start For Your Finances!
If you're motivated to extend your spring cleaning ritual to your finances this year, congrats! Taking advantage of the energy of re-birth to up your financial game is smart, a real gift to both your present and future self. Here are some tips to get and keep you moving.
#1 - Make it a REAL fresh start. Don't worry about cleaning up the mess of the past and focus instead on the future. Take a look at some of the obstacles that have prevented you from being as on top of your finances as you'd like, and pick 2 or 3 simple things you can implement immediately to get some traction. For example, if it's:
- organizing all those statements, even going paperless can only do so much. And it's important that you at least review your statements promptly so you can report any errors or fraud in the allowable time. Make that easier by choosing one of each type to be your primary use account, and work toward consolidating or eliminating the others. TIP: if your wallet is filled with credit cards, ditch the store credit cards at a minimum!
- spending that's is a tricky area for you, try a 30 day credit card freeze (literally use ICE if you need to). Instead, give yourself a cash allowance each week and when it's gone, it's gone. TIP: make gas in the car and food in the pantry a priority and no one will die or lose their jobs.
- savings you've struggled with, automate it. But make sure it's really savings, which means it must be reasonable to expect it to stay in savings. The last thing you want to do is create more jobs for yourself, hawking your checking and making frequent transfers back. Or worse, paying overdraft fees. TIP: try goal specific accounts, and make sure one of them is an emergency fund.
#2 - Pace yourself. Don't expect to undo years of habit with good intentions and a binge of effort. Try committing a manageable size block of time each week to the endeavor. Block it out on your calendar and treat it like a meeting with your boss or biggest client. It's THAT important. Be sure to leave a few minutes at the end of each session to plot any homework you give yourself in your planner, and to plan the next session. 90% of revamping any part of your life is consistency. What you actually do in the time is less important than that you keep this commitment to yourself.
#3 - Celebrate every little thing you accomplish. Seriously, every single thing. Motivation wanes if we don't feel progress, and chances are you're short changing yourself in that department. So whip out the gold stars and apply liberally.
And share both your challenges and successes with the people you love. Break this taboo around money, start talking, and stop the pretending. Money is an area we all struggle with at different times and in different ways. Liberating yourself from the shackles of shame shows others how to find freedom too.
Godspeed dear friends!
photo lifted from Innovative Office Solutions, how perfect is that?!?