Here we are, well into January now. Have you already fallen off the wagon with your resolve to stop eating so much or get more exercise? Don’t give up for the year! Even if those resolutions didn’t stick, there’s no law that says you have to wait until January 1, 2016 to try another one.
As our regular readers know, our bloggers are financial counselors by day. We are in the trenches with debt and budget issues day after day. And, we have some valuable advice to offer. This piece of advice will make a good Anytime of the Year resolution:
Schedule a regular date to visit your finances at least monthly, but preferably bi-monthly or weekly.
A common theme we observe in our offices is hectic, busy lives leading to disorganization, overspending, and expensive debt. (That expensive debt can mean hundreds of dollars spent each month on credit card interest charges, on overdraft fees, on revolving payday loans, or on any other devious ways that suck us dry.) And the reality is, there is no substitute for devoting space in your life to your finances to gain control.
Pick a time when you can have peace and quiet, even if only for 20 minutes. Some time is better than no time. Put it on your calendar as a recurring date. For your date, have a nice cup of tea or cool drink, depending on the season. Make sure the kids are distracted or locked away. Now that you are settled in, what do you do on this date with your finances? Oh! There are so many ideas!
- Check your balance in your bank account.
- Review your debit card transactions.
- Look at your credit card statements—the full statement—and force yourself to look at your interest rates and monthly interest charges along with all the transactions.
- List your fixed monthly bills (rent, phone, electricity, student loan payment, etc.) with due dates.
- Calculate your net income.
- Set a savings goal, and then set up an automatic transfer or direct deposit to savings.
- Plan out your paychecks—when will you pay which expense?
- Do the math—after fixed expenses and savings, what is left for everything else?
- Schedule an appointment with a financial counselor to develop a debt repayment plan.
The list can go on, and get into deeper areas. Are you and your partner on the same page? What are your long-term goals? What steps do you need to take to get there? Don’t try to cover everything on each date. The routine maintenance checks listed above will become easier and faster, leaving time for the other financial issues. The point is to just start. It is a small commitment. Not like having to exercise an hour a day. Who wouldn’t fall off that one in the middle of January?! The payoff for the small commitment is huge—control, peace of mind, success!
Need some professional guidance to get you started? Visit our website at www.ConquerYourDebt.org.
Here’s to a Prosperous New Year everybody!
Author Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial Counselor at LSS Financial Counseling. Give us a call at 888.577.2227 to learn how to start Conquering Your Debt!