In the final weeks of December, it’s important to take one last look back at the year. How’s your plan coming? If it’s like mine, there are still some items on the “to do” list that you’ve yet to mark off. We’re down to only a few weeks to finish up our goals for 2015.
I was listening to a podcast recently with Hal Elrod (of Miracle Morning fame). He was sharing with the host that he sleeps very few hours most nights, but that it doesn’t seem to affect his day. He noticed that on short rest, everything hinged on his attitude. If he woke up and said, “Man, I’m tired. Today’s going to be awful,” the day stunk. If he said, “Alright! I’ve got a huge day today, no more time to sleep!” he became a powerful force in the universe.
I’m certainly not advocating that we give up sleep. More sleep AND a good attitude are probably the optimal one-two punch. However, if you’re in a situation where less sleep is the reality, attitude can change the game.
It’s the same with our money, isn’t it? Our attitude changes everything.
- If I believe my debt’s killing me, it is.
- If I think saving money is difficult, it is.
- If I decide that I’m stuck in a rotten financial place, I am.
As creatives, we know from literature, film, plays, and even poetry, that the hero largely decides her fate. In the beginning of a three-act play, the character faces a problem. By the end of the work, the character has formed a plan, and for better or worse, they’re working through their plan to find a resolution.
Now We’re In The Final Act of 2015
As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to review your money plan. I’m sure some parts are working just fine (virtual high five!), but others can still improve. Where do you need an attitude adjustment?
Here are four of the most common challenge areas, and some quick solutions:
- Credit Card Debt. First, switch to an all cash lifestyle this holiday season. The fourth quarter of the year is the number one time for people to fall into the debt trap. Cut up your credit cards if you don’t think you can stay away. If funds are tight, tell relatives and friends that you can’t wait to spend time with them this holiday, but you’re not doing presents this year.
- Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck. Take whatever amount you can and start an emergency fund. If you find that it’s impossible to save and keep it saved, try this trick: have the money taken directly from your paycheck if possible and placed into an account at a bank or credit union that’s difficult to access. Sometimes “out of sight/out of mind” is all it takes to get the ball rolling.
- No/Not Enough Insurance. Do an insurance audit. In many cases, you’ll find that you can lower expenses on your existing coverage enough to afford necessary additions. Need life insurance? If you have little money, try shopping online for term insurance. This is the least ex-pensive type. Looking for places to save on your auto/home coverage? Try getting coverage through a single company for a discount. Raise your deductibles if you have an emergency fund. Ask your local credit union if they have discounted rates through any insurance companies. Often you’ll find credit union membership has perks.
- Spending that Doesn’t Match Your Priorities. I have a friend who never has any money but ONLY eats at high-end restaurants. She wants to take vacations but complains that she can’t. The problem is she’s paying for appetizers and wine that she really doesn’t care about. Track your expenses using your bank’s app or a third party app like Mint. How do you spend your dollars? How much money is going to things that don’t really matter to you?
By focusing on your values first and then matching your spending plan to those values, you’ll have an easier time reaching your financial goals for 2015 and beyond!