Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.~ Henry Ford
If you’ve completed steps 1-4 of “Plan B”, you’ve probably realized that the real work has just begun. Don’t let this overwhelm you! Your finances are complicated and ever-changing, so racing to the finish line just to check off the ten steps will only give you a false sense of security. Now it’s time to put the plan into action.
Establish a Timeline: Review your goals with your spouse or trusted friend and get out the calendar. Realistically, how long will it take you to save up an emergency fund, pay off your car, or eliminate your student loan if your current financial status remains the same? If you don’t set a specific date, you are more likely to give up on your goals in a moment of weakness. A date also provides a “light at the end of the tunnel”, so mark your calendar with a reward to enjoy once you’ve completed your goal. Assess your progress every month to keep yourself focused and to adjust each goal as your situation changes.
Arrange Accountability: It’s easy to spend frivolously if you think no one will find out, so make sure your spouse has access to your bank statements. Choose a time each week to sit down and discuss what you’ve spent, what you’ve saved, and any purchasing regrets. This is not a place for judgement, only for owning up to your responsibilities. If you’re single, ask a friend to call you on a specific day each week to discuss the same things. Make sure this friend is someone who’s got their budget under control and won’t let you off the hook for spending unwisely.
Create Alternative Solutions: Identify what triggers your unnecessary spending and come up with a list of things you can do when the urge to impulse buy takes over. Like to window shop to relieve stress? Go for a walk around your block, take dinner to your neighbors, or simply remove your cash and debit card from of your wallet and leave it at home. Do you buy things just to experience the rush of owning something new? Throw a clothing swap party with a few friends, clean out your car to give it that “new car” smell or rearrange your furniture. Always have another outlet to deter you from giving into your craving for splurges.
Check back in Friday for more on putting Plan B into action and how to create balance in your finances. “Like” The Budget Maven on Facebook, follow on twitter @thebudgetmaven, or watch video how-tos at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBudgetMaven.