When Brooks and I started our life together, we had a very specific plan in place for our future – career and financially speaking. There were many components to that plan – debt freedom, investing, business pursuits, farming, and what I call life living pursuits (travel & recreation). Slowly but surely we’ve been whittling away at those things and here we are at the end of 2017, which means it’s time to review them and plan out 2018.
We do all of the standard practices. Things like live within our means, stay out of debt (& work like crazy to dig out if we do accrue some), save for the future, cut the unnecessary spending, drive older cars, eat at home (a lot!), and invest wisely in areas that we are familiar with (investing into things we understand like businesses and real estate gives us a little more decision power on how our funds are handled).
But, I wanted to take our financial management to the next level and invite you to do so along side us. To set you up for a fantastic year, here are a few new things I am implementing in our own finances in 2018 as well as some things that we’ve been doing for years. Discipline yourself to do them and I promise you will reap healthy dividends. It’s what has worked for us.
- Change your mindset and don’t call them “resolutions”! In the spirit of New Year’s “resolutions”, I wanted to get you thinking about your own ambitions. But, here’s the thing… I hate relating our goals to New Year’s resolutions because to me that’s not what they are at all. This list of mine and my pursuits are what shape my life! It’s me being me. It’s us living out the very things that we love and going to the places we’ve always wanted to go. So, my first tip is to think of your 2018 punch list as something that’s your driving force for the future. It’s the roadmap to your next big thing. This is completely a mindset switch and all about your mentality.
- Make yourself grow by trying new things! 2017 is gone, y’all! It’s time to throw out the old and bring in the new. Review over your habits and behaviors of 2017 and chuck the things that didn’t work. For example, Brooks and I faithfully pulled cash out each month for one another to spend haphazardly. This was our personal cash stash that we could spend on whatever we wanted. If I chose to spend every last dollar on shopping, then so be it (by the way, that wasn’t how I spent all my dough). This is a habit that worked for us and will stay for sure, especially since financially it kept us from overspending. On the other hand, on paper, we were supposed to have a bit more excess or buffer than we ended up with. So, our routine of waiting till the end of the month to move monies into savings didn’t work for us this year. This has to change, which leads me to tip number 3!
- Make it automatic! We have aggressive savings goals this year. My Tahoe isn’t going to be around forever and we just bought an abandoned farmhouse on 54 acres… which means bye-bye ANY excess we have. As I described in tip number 2, if there was a habit or behavior that didn’t serve you well in 2017, then ditch it. For us, it’s not that we didn’t save any funds because we did. It’s just that we could have done much better. A little more discipline could have gone a long way. So, starting with January 2018, I am making my savings transfers automatic. I’ve never done this before but I am confident that this will make a HUGE difference for us this year. I’ve already set it up and now on the 16th of every month a calculated amount will be transferred without the need of my hands. My work is literally done for all 2018 in that department. The best part, it’s not relying on me. I’m human and there’s lots of room for error… or just not doing what I’m supposed to. This new strategy cures that.
- Re-evaluate your time management, especially if you are client based and work from home. Summer 2016, I started working as a virtual bookkeeper (contracted bookkeeping services from home). At the start of that employment, I had a dollar figure in mind for my income goal. I was conservative in that figure because I also was very protective over my time (I still wanted to have time for blogging and focusing on our farm). Now that I’ve had the job for a while and I’ve learned how to manage my time working from home, I knew I could make another change. So, I’m taking on a new client! Woohoo! This will help us meet certain goals quicker and shouldn’t make a huge dent in our family and recreational time. So, for you, look at your income, time management practices, and expense list. PERHAPS, if you work from home like me or are self-employed, maybe how you spend your time is the issue. It may be that you are a time waster and thus make less per hour for it. What if you stopped checking Facebook or didn’t do your online shopping while “on the clock”… wonderful, original idea, I know. My point is that you probably make more money than you think. It’s just you’re horrible at time management and are addicted to social media… yep, I said it. This is how I figured out I could take on more clients… for real. Kicking the addiction to social media equals more opportunity to increase your income or better manage the income you already have. Clear as mud???
- K.I.S.S. It and Think Like a Minimalist One of the best things I’ve ever done for our budget was to clear away the clutter. Making a confusing mess out of your budget is a disaster waiting to happen. We found this to be easy to do in our situation because it wasn’t just our personal finances that were being managed but also our farm, a landscaping business, rental & investment properties, and then I had the added bonus of trying to keep all of my clients straight, too… It’s no wonder my brain went on vacation during the health crisis earlier this year. Ha! Save yourself some headache and dive into that minimalistic mindset. Less is more. Cut out the stupid expenses that are unnecessary. If you balance your checking account each month (and you should) make this a little less painful by going to cash for your fun money and meals out. It turns several transactions each month into one. Set up auto-payments. Anything to cut the clutter and streamline the process. By the way, K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple Silly…
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
Honestly guys, Lord willing, this will be a great year for us if all goes to plan… again, Lord willing. But, we know how that goes. As people living in an imperfect world, there has to be room for error and surprises. So, here’s your BONUS TIP: Stay flexible…. Plans and things written on paper may not happen. You can do all that you can to make it so but at the end of the day it “fails”. Just see those “failures” as detours. Be flexible, make some changes, bend with the unexpected, and move on.