Personal Finance Plan

It doesn’t matter if you’re long past the ‘back to school” phase, as either student or parent. September can still be a pretty busy month. After a slow summer everything seems to wind itself up again in the fall, making it pretty hard to keep on top of your personal finances.

In the swirl of projects at work, homework with the kids and the start of the fall television season (hooray) the reason WHY you wanted to get a handle on your money can get lost. WHY on God’s green earth did you EVER commit to doing _____________? And in the absence of the reason why, it should be no surprise that the task you committed to doing – improving cash flow, saving for a dream vacation, paying off credit debt – feels like too much.

I have three super simple, super quick tips to staying engaged in your personal finance plan, at this time of year in particular:

1)Answer the question WHY?: Why do you want to get a handle on your money?

My answer? Abby. I want to get and keep a handle on my money so that we can take a month off in Spain this year as a family. And I want her to be able to choose whatever post-secondary school she wants, which is why I’m signing up for her RESP. I am not doing these things because I “should”, because I’ll be rewarded in heaven, or because I run a personal finance training company and therefore have to set an example. I’m doing them for Abby.

Why are you getting a handle on your money? Honestly, WHY bother?

2)Choose one action to take: What is one thing you could do to move forward in this area of your life? It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It just needs to be a thing. Book coffee with a friend who just returned from Asia to talk about your dream to travel there, cancel your cable, put your old dining room table on ebay. Something. Anything.

3)Commit to another person that you’ll take that action: I can’t trust myself to do what I say I’m going to do. At least not all the time. But if I promise someone in my community that I’ll do something, it is way more likely that I actually will. Call a friend, family member or spouse and declare what action you’ll take and by when you’ll take it. And ask them to follow up with you about it.

Staying engaged in getting a handle on your money isn’t easy. But is necessary. You have to continue to take action over time to get what you want….and then one day you’ll actually get it and the effort will be forgotten