It’s easy to feel a bit financially off-balance during the holiday season. The extra spending on trinkets and treats for the dozen or so holiday parties and open houses that we’ve been invited to…and the special shopping for those I love and appreciate…it all can become somewhat intoxicating. And though I am generally a frugal gal, I do enjoy the free feeling of popping into Starbucks to get a little liquid fuel in one of those cute holiday cups! Who can resist their Christmas blend?
However, in the midst of my spending hullabaloo, there are a few things I do to stave off the rush of anxiety in January when the bills come in (assuming the credit card is the spending mode during the holidays) and to prepare for a financially fit and orderly New Year.
Before I share, I should explain something about my perspective on finances. I am a “regular” woman who has learned a lot on my money management journey. No, I do not have a finance degree. Nor do I offer to consult my clients on advanced financial matters. I believe that the management of your finances is a very personal matter. Its supervision is idiosyncratic. Although there are general principles that govern the practice, I think every person must develop their own approach and hacks. The key is to not give up out of frustration or anxiety or a seeming lack of resources. (We always want more than we have, anyway!) It is within your power to experience an orderly financial house and financial peace! As Maya Angelou said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” So, please, do the work. If I can do it, you can, too!
Here, I will share my personal end-of-the-year strategy with you. I’ll post one “to do” at a time over the next several days. This will give you time to digest and implement each tactic at your own pace. You may adopt these steps as is or incorporate a few (or all) into your existing financial management toolkit. I simply would like to be a catalyst for a financial mindset shift that will lead to you living freer and more abundantly in the coming year.
Start with this…
Assess Where You Are
My first step is to do a quick review (for about an hour) of my household as well as business spending for the year. Today, most of us pay our bills online and make purchases using a credit or debit card. That makes this step easy, though tedious. I admit. Once you get started, the process unfolds steadily. You'll see...
When you think about it, bill payments are consistent. There are some fixed items, like rent or mortgage, and more variable spending, like utilities. But the latter only fluctuates within a general range. Write all of this down. The point of this assessment is to identify cost rhythms (e.g., spring/fall energy costs are lower than summer/winter), personal habits, and drift tendencies. For example, I am strict with myself when spending on me. However, I noticed that I tend to spend a bit more in June. That makes sense because my birthday is in June. I like the freedom to treat myself to a spontaneous lunch or pair of shoes as I celebrate all month long. LOL.
NOTE: This step may bring up some unpleasant emotions. Guilt. Shame. Anxiety. I get it. Heck, I’ve been there. Do your best to stick with the assessment. Where you are now is not where you must remain. Like when using a GPS, you can only move forward strategically once you’ve accurately identified your current location.
Your homework is to set aside an hour or so to pinpoint where you are, financially. If looking at the entire year is too much for you or that much data is not available, then try looking at the past six or three months. Once you have a big picture view of your past spending and your habits & tendencies, you may move to the next item on the “to do” list. Look out for it this weekend!
Until next time…
I want to hear from you...how do you feel about your finances? How do you want to feel about them? Tell me in the comments below.