Everyone is on a different financial journey. Between debt payoff, savings, financial independence, there are so many different areas that require your attention. This is going to be a lifelong journey with money so while we are at different stages, I thought it might be helpful to write about some different ways to reduce the money stress (AKA drama) in your life for whatever stage you are in. This is so important as you think about improving your relationship with money.
Based on feedback from my Instagram community, there is definitely some….for a lack of a better word, drama surrounding people’s financial lives. Today, I want to share what has worked for me and it is a key part of building a positive relationship with money.
Now, before I go any further, please note that this is probably more geared to those of us that are more Type A personalities. Perhaps we share some obsessive tendencies. If you are a person who enjoys the feeling and accomplishment of a reconciled checking account, can name to the penny how much your paychecks are, know by heart a few different dates your bills are due, you are likely a Type A personality when it comes to money. If so, this article is for you!
Batch your transactions around a couple times per month, or less
Autopay! It sounds so slick doesn’t it? You provide your information to a
company and the company is in charge of making sure your bill is paid every
month. You never need to worry about it again, right?!?
What I would ask you is how many times you have calculated and re-calculated
your bills to determine if you have enough to clear that transaction in your checking account. If you cling to your balance in your checking account, you probably aren’t saving time and adding to your stress, which was the initial point of autodraft.
What has really worked for my clients is to center all their bill paying around those couple times per month when you get paid. Seek to balance out what bills you owe (maybe even calling your creditors to change payment bill dates). This is something that I work out with my clients so that one paycheck isn’t all consumed by bills and the bills are spread consistently.
Save for irregular expenses every single month
I could write an entire blog post on this one…..saving for irregular expenses. I know when you are knee deep in your debt payoff journey, you may want to throw every single dollar towards your debt. This is terrific!
However, this is exactly where it can go wrong. For a lot of people, you did not get into this mess by simply spending too much….instead, for a good chunk of people, I would say maybe there are some opportunities for planning better.
Consider setting aside a few dollars each month or paycheck for holidays, birthday parties, Christmas, necessary travel, higher heat costs in the winter, professional family photos in the fall, medical, car repairs, home repairs, annual car/license plate registration, new technology (like a new phone or computer), kids’ back to school shopping, kids’ sports seasons, etc to name a few. Create your own list of typical expenses each month. I know this seems like a lot! But I would wager that a lot of people underestimate how these costs and it is very eye opening to my clients when they realize all these different expenses.
Life can be really expensive! If you are adequately saving for all of these things, plus paying off debt, chances are you won’t have much of an appetite for dining out or spending unnecessarily. I think it is important to save a bit for these expenses each month, some call them “sinking funds”, because chances are when something happens, like your auto insurance bill is due, will also likely be the same month you have a house repair or need a new crown on one of your teeth.
Ask yourself where the noise is in your financial life
This title kind of sums it up.. Sometimes you kind of know what issues are popping up in your financial life. Maybe you have irregular income, maybe all of your large bills are due once per year, or maybe you dine out a lot. Whatever the issue is, I would encourage you to write down a few different ways that you can prevent or mitigate this noise. What are some solutions that you could do in advance to prevent the issue in the first place?
For example, with variable income, maybe you could prioritize paying as many bills in advance as you can when you do get paid. And actually pay those bills, and not just “set the money aside”. Maybe you consider taking your bills off autopay so you don’t worry about overdrafting your account in case your paycheck is not as large as you anticipated.
Use cash to stay in budget
I know the idea of cash can seem awfully old fashioned. However, if you have an area where you or your family tends to overspend, cash might be an amazing alternative for you. Consider using cash for dining out, groceries, gas, gifts, any of your sinking funds. My clients report feeling a sense of abundance and gratitude when they use cash. They rest more easily, especially if things are tight, knowing that they have specific money set aside for groceries or other expenses. Maybe consider trying it for one paycheck, or just one category, to dip your toes in the water.
Create a realistic spending plan (AKA budget!)
I cannot stress this one enough. I don’t know about you but creating unrealistic budgets was probably one of the quickest ways for me to get off track with making progress with my debt and savings. I see this commonly with clients too.
It is so easy to underestimate our grocery needs or how much we may spend in certain areas. I used to create a budget liked I spent very little at the grocery store, never had a car repair, and the month was going to be “perfect”. I would give up my budget always after a day or two of getting started and then try again, unsuccessfully, the following month. I wish I had known how much more ahead I could have been if I would have kept my budget realistic and for how I actually lived my life.
Pay annually, or a large of payment you can make
Ok, this might be more of an ideal, but I want to mention this idea as something to think about. I personally seek to even pay as many bills annually as possible. Homeowners insurance, property taxes, life insurance, internet, trash/recycling, Amazon Prime, even Netflix (I buy a gift card through Amazon and then apply it to my Netflix account). I just don’t like being bothered with bills every single month. I don’t know about you, but a monthly bill just annoys me. I like not thinking about my bills and saving time to do other things. Perhaps start out with paying one small bill annually when you can and repeat for additional bills. Again, it is not for everyone but I wanted to mention this because it is a time saver and sometimes, you get discounts by paying an annually so you save money!
I hope you found a few of these tips helpful as you approach your own finances. It is one thing for me to tell you that they have worked for our financial life but it is another to also say that many of my clients are following these tactics to really streamline their finances. So many of them report that it is has made them feel better, feel more in control of their finances, and they are actually making progress on their debt and savings goals.
Have you tried all this and it still is not working for you?
If all of this sounds great to you, but you need any help implementing them, then contact me below to talk more about how I can help your family get on a better money path! Working with a financial coach could save you time and money.
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