This weekend, my husband and I invested time in a Mid Year Financial Review - a Money Check In. Several times a year we review our finances and adjust as needed to feel confident that funds are available for all of our needs.
Some people call it budgeting...I call it keeping my relationship with money healthy and HONEST.
I posted a status on my Facebook page that I was doing this and my new friend Ian Garlic who I met at the Book Breathrough NYC Conference Last week asked me about our Process. So I thought I'd blog about it!
Here's our " Money Check-up" process in a nutshell.
- Are we profitable?
- Are we still living well below our means?
- Are our savings growing?
- Does our "cushion" need adjusting?
- How is the 401K doing?
- Is debit creeping up unexpectedly somewhere?
- What is our current "cash on hand"?
- What investments are we looking to make this year? e.g. Vacations, Home improvements, Work Related Projects, etc.
- Have our needs changed?
- What adjustments might we need to make to reduce overhead expenses or to fund a new project / goal?
- Can we simplify our paperwork? declutter? etc.
- Do we need to pay Estimated Taxes? If so how much?
- Have we got everything we need in place to make it easy to file our Tax Return?
The Essential Steps
- Calculate "profitability" to date
- Review our upcoming investments / expenses we want to make in all the key areas of our lives
- Determine where the funding will come from
- Decide if we need to to adjust our automatic contributions to 401K, savings etc.
- Review our insurance, mortgage, credit lines, etc. just to see if it's all still serving our needs.
- See if we can simplify anything.
- Clean out papers we no longer need
- Update our digital financial filing system, etc.
It takes 3 - 6 hours to go through everything and discuss, but the feeling of peace and clarity of mind that comes from knowing exactly where you stand financially is PRICELESS. It's a strong foundation for navigating life with confidence. It makes it easy to know what to say YES to and what to say NO to.
How I evolved my process and philosophy of relating to money
I think growing up with a 5 times divorced mother on welfare, and then graduating college with a mountain of Student Loans plus finding my way back from $25,000 in credit card debt (back in the 80's when that was a LOT of money) taught me that I can live with next to nothing and that I CAN do what it takes to bounce back - BUT I WOULD RATHER NOT HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN : )
I become highly motivated to figure out a better relationship with money when I had to sell everything I owned to avoid bankruptcy. I lost pretty much everything I had. I went from having my own 2 BR 2 Bath Luxury apt. to living with a roomate in a small apt where I had just one room and shared the bathroom. It was a tough experience. I was 31 yrs old and had fallen big time..even though my career had blossomed, I was a personal wreck. NOT a good place to be. Since then I have done everything in my power to figure out how to keep getting back on track and not derail like that again with money.
If it does happen again, it won't be because I wasn't paying attention.
Finding my peace with money and what ENOUGH really is has kept me from falling too deep into the trap of living bigger and always wanting more. It taught me to really take care of what I have and not get too spoiled by the material trappings of life. And oddly enough, making peace with money actually taught me (and is still teaching me) how to detach and let go of stuff and not keep much more than I need. I still have some stuff I don't really need, but I'm no longer "attached" to my stuff and I don't keep stuff out of fear that someday I might need it and won't be able to get what I need then. Huge difference.
I also am far more at ease with spending money. I don't spend as much for emotional reasons...I am clear what I'm investing in and am glad to pay for things, services and information that serve my ability to serve others.
Once again: whether paying bills, doing chores, or "checking in"
"It's not what you do, it's the energy you do it with that matters."
If you want to read more of my ideas, experiences and tips related to money, check out these blog posts related to Money.
- Overspending - 12 Warning Signs You Might Have a Problem
- The TRUE cost of things
- Do you know what "enough" is for you?
- 25 Ways I Save Money
- Organize Your Financial Papers To Make Tax Time Less Stressful - Part 1
- Organize Your Financial Papers To Make Tax Time Less Stressful - Part 2
- Clearing DEBT Clutter - How I Got Out of $25,000 in Debt
- Having Trouble Resisting the Urge to Splurge? Sometimes all it takes is the right question!
- Is Wal-Mart Good for America? The High Cost of Low Price
- Food, Inc. The BIG Profits in Poor Nutrition