It’s a brand new month! Do you know how much you’ve spent this past month? How much you’ve been paid? How much your total bills were this past month?
I know these seem like intense questions to throw at you, but they’re important. Too many times, we ignore our money, or we start off a new month with the best of intentions, only to completely forget about those intentions a few days later because life is busy.
That doesn’t help us get closer to our goals. We need to know how much we spent and what we spent it on. We need to know how much we saved – was it enough? How much debt did we kill off this month? How much money we earned?
Money is Emotional – Not a Math Problem
I know money is emotional. But I think that when we can bring ourselves out of that emotional state and into a more objective one where we become observers – not judgers – we can paint a full picture of our finances and make solid decisions that will help us go further with our money.
Just this week here in metro Atlanta, T-Mobile laid off many employees. And even though I would never wish job loss on anyone (Pat and I went through that during the Great Recession – it’s not fun), I know that it can be made even worse if you don’t have your finances in order. Regardless of how much you earn every year – if you haven’t been paying attention to your money, it’s time to start.
You don’t have to be perfect. Remember, it’s a practice – we are never going to be perfect with money. But we can keep practicing the art of managing it.
How to Check in With Your Finances
So this weekend, let’s take some time to check in with our finances (go ahead and put it in your phone as a reminder so you don’t forget).
- How much did you spend in September? Break it out into categories.
- How much debt did you pay down? Or how much new debt did you incur?
- How much money did you save in your Emergency Fund?
- Did you contribute to your retirement? How much?
- How much were your total bills in September? Is that amount typical?
- Did you have anything unexpected that might need to become a Sinking Fund in the future (pet expenses, child-related expenses, car maintenance, etc.)?
- How much do you currently have in your Emergency Fund? Is it enough to cover three months of living expenses?
And then, after you’ve reviewed the previous month, let’s look forward to the new month. Let’s get this month on the right foot and ask ourselves a few other questions:
- What in October do you need to plan for (family pictures, county fair, Halloween costumes/activities, birthdays, special occasions, sports, etc.)?
- How much is in your Christmas Sinking Fund? Is it ready for the holiday shopping season?
- Are you planning to travel anywhere for Thanksgiving and Christmas? If so, do you have any money set aside to do so?
- Does the company you work for Fiscal year-end in October? If so, do you need to make any decisions regarding updating health insurance/retirement benefits, etc.?
Again, I know that this seems like a lot but the reality is we need to pay attention to our money and plan for it accordingly. We can’t just put our heads in the sand and hope that money will magically appear. We have to look out over the horizon and plan for anything – whether it’s sunny days or stormy ones. We have to plan as best we can. The more prepared we are, the less hectic our lives and finances will be, especially as we enter into the last few months of this year.
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