By Marsha Barnes
We all have moments when our budgets suddenly take a nosedive, our movement towards our debt goals are a bit unbalanced, and our credit score just took a hit. Yikes!
How do we dust ourselves off and hop back on the saddle towards gaining financial bliss. Step one is to forgive yourself. Accountability is the key to financial success, and as we all know, it’s easier said than done. So let’s try again.
- Put on your financial seat belt
Take a look at your regular monthly expenses. Can you cancel your gym membership? (I just did). After realizing that I had all of the equipment necessary for a successful workout at home, what purpose did a gym membership serve? It was a wasted expense being drafted from my account on a monthly basis. Totally grosses my financial taste buds out to even think about it. Cut up your store cards (for now), or possibly forever. You can even downsize your cable TV subscription-how many channels are you really watching? Buckle up for the ride and turn right or left based on your financial needs.
- Identify your Goals and Make a Plan
Successful people set targets and develop plans to achieve them. If you’re ever going to recover with the hope of getting back to saving the down payment for that dream house, fully funding your “life happens fund,” or strategically planning for the cost of college tuition for yourself or kid, it’s going to take some serious planning. The win is always in the doing. Less talk more action.
- Assess your Priorities
Do you really need a phone upgrade right now (simply because a new version is out), an entire new outfit for a wedding? Something has to give, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it up forever. Assess your priorities by reviewing them often. Dig in your closet, scope out what you already have, purchase an inexpensive mobile phone case for your cell, and I promise you it’ll feel like new. Have you ever heard that spending habits are typically emotional? It’s true. Priorities take center stage when you’re making strides towards digging yourself out of a dark financial hole.
Upset, happy, sad, or mad? Think about the times that you’ve spent haphazardly as a result of those emotions.
- Summarize your current debt situation
To get a handle on what you owe, write it down-including the outstanding balance, interest rate, the monthly payment, or any annual fees. Post your list up in several areas of your home (not the rooms that you rarely go in). Depressing? No. Realistic? Yes. How often do you need a reminder? Let’s be totally honest, personal finance and getting a grasp on what we really need to handle can be taxing and boring. Summarize and review.
- Reward Yourself
Set debt-reduction milestones, or savings goals and reward yourself for achieving them. Possibly a nice night out at a new or your favorite restaurant, weekend getaway, or keep it really simple, take a stroll in the park after purchasing a new book or magazine. Once you begin to see the reduction of outstanding balances on your debt list, or your nest egg increasing, you will be empowered to forge ahead.
What are some small changes that you can make to place you back on track?
Marsha Barnes is the owner The Finance Bar. Visit www.financebar.com for more information.