Jan
19
2013

Organize Your Money: 3 Ways to Stick to Your Plan

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

Organize Your Money: 3 Ways to Stick to Your Plan

It’s January and time to get life organized. This week I’m sharing some simple ideas to help you organize your money. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

One thing that I have discovered is that in order to live intentionally, we need to have vision for our life and a plan for reaching that vision. The plan does no good, however, if we don’t follow it. Having a vague thought that “someday” we want to take a trip to Italy doesn’t mean that we will actually be able to get there. We have to integrate the steps in our plan into the way we live our everyday lives.

Ideas that are “out there” in the future have to be brought into the present by our daily actions. The future doesn’t just arrive. We build it day by day.

If you have a financial goal you want to accomplish, try these three practical tools to help you stick to your plan:

Monitor Your Mindset

The first tool that you can use to help you stick to your plan is to monitor how you think about money. It’s easy to form a mindset of deprivation when you realize that you can’t spend money on whatever you want in the moment, and still meet your financial goals. One way that we combat this deprivation mindset is to avoid thinking about everything we are missing out on or feeling trapped because we are forced to give up something we want. Instead we empower ourselves by focusing on the fact that our short-term sacrifice is enabling us to meet long-term goals.

Sure it would be nice to spend those few extra dollars to eat out tonight, but if we save them we will be able to meet more important objectives which will bring financial freedom to our family and enable us to do more things that we want to do later. If we manage the amount of money that we have right now (no matter how big or small it seems) in the best way we can, we feel a sense of excitement about the future, because we see the power of a little bit of money used well.

If you are feeling deprived or restricted, you can read more about changing your money mindset here.

 

Dedicate a Savings Location

Once you have made the decision to direct your money in specific ways rather than letting it slip through your fingers, you will be much more likely to stick with the plan if you have somewhere specific to save the money. You can use an envelope in a safe location in your home, a special savings account or a second checking account.

Along with your savings destination, you need a method to track the money you are putting aside. Some people use a phone app, some use an Excel spreadsheet and others make a thermometer graph that they post on the fridge. The important thing is to find a way to watch your money growing so that you can be motivated by your progress.

 

Plan Your Spending

Now that you have the specific goal in mind that you want to accomplish, and you have a place to put the money, you need to make a specific spending plan for your paycheck each pay period.

Our family uses a combination of cash and checking accounts to meet our goals. Every pay day I have a morning appointment with myself and the checkbook when I do the following:

  • On a sheet of paper in my Brain in a Binder, I write down the amount of my husband’s paycheck deposit.
  • I subtract our grocery, household, date and gas money plus a $20 cushion, and leave that amount in the primary account.
  • I transfer the remainder of the money into our second account and divide it into the categories on our spreadsheet (read more here). This money is used to pay monthly bills and irregular expenses like medical needs, clothing, car insurance premiums, etc..
  • Any additional money we make above the designated amounts for each category in this second account goes into our savings account to meet our current savings goals.
  • On my shopping day, I take the grocery, household and date money for the week out in cash.
  • I place the money in individual envelopes in my wallet for each category so I know exactly how much I have to spend and I try to never borrow money from one envelope to pay for something in another category.

 

You probably won’t do things exactly the way we do, but by using these three tools you can stick to your plan to spend wisely, save diligently and give generously and meet your financial goals.   

 

What systems and tools do you use to stick with your financial plans? Leave a comment. :)

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Alisha January 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I designed an Excel spreadsheet that tracks our expenses and income for the next two years. It really came in handy when we signed up for health, dental, and vision insurance through my husbands work. I can immediately see how we need to change our spending to stay on track! I also check our accounts online every day. Our plan is to have an emergency fund and down payment for a house saved in 3 years.

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Emily January 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I also use a spreadsheet to track monthly and year to date deposits and spending. I use online banking and update my spreadsheets weekly. Whenever we have anything extra, I can immediately transfer it from checking to savings before I am tempted to spend it. That method has really helped me make sure we are saving everything we can!

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Mary January 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

We have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to track our expenses. I have our bills, irregular spending (like car insurance) that goes into savings, and variable expenses (groceries, car gas, etc). It’s easier for me to only have to go to the bank once a month, so I take out all my cash at the beginning of the month and then put some “away” so that I still have money in the last week or 2 (otherwise I’ll spend it too early!). We use cash envelopes for most of our variable expenses (except for gas, because it’s just easier to use your card at the gas station!). I like the idea of making an appointment with yourself to do all this, because sometimes I find it hard to find the time to do it.

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Samantha January 26, 2013 at 11:11 pm

The envelope idea is something i am going to use! and im going to make them look as pretty as possible and hopefully they last a long time. its so much easier to spend money when its all together because your like “oh i got $150 so i can get this, that, and oh that” then when you check out the total comes to $142 and some change. then you wonder where it all went. i live in michigan so we have the 6% sales tax so i am also including that into my total. i am even making an envelope that is dedicated to the sale items in a store. i am a clearanceaholic i look at the clearance section before anything else. and its amazing the deals you find, but when i reach into my envelope, will i have enough? and if i dont, oh well. i even go to the clearance section for stuff i do need sometimes the bottle of laundry soap is dented, or some leaked out, so its marked down a couple bucks, oh well, im gonna get it. when a certain amount of money is signed to a certain area of need, you know the limit. and i need to get back into couponing.

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Jessica January 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm

After a few years of tracking expenses on an excel spreadsheet, we finally switched to cash envelopes when I became a stay at home mom. I just use the ones that come from cash withdrawals at the bank with the category written at the top, and we are finally sticking to our budget! I do most of my shopping at the beginning of the month and then separate the rest into four paperclips (one for each week- now no more running out of cash the last week of the month). I had a major breakthrough several months ago when I switched my mindset from, “How can I spend all of this money wisely?” to “How can I not spend this money?” Mindset is everything!

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Kimberlee January 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Love that question! You’re right–mindset is everything.

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Samantha January 31, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Jessica that is what i am starting to do. buying my diapers, wipes, toilet paper all of that at the beginning of the month so im not texting my mom asking for $20 to buy something i really need. if you are stocked up on everything then you see “okay i got this much money left if something goes on sale i can use” my son is potty training so he likes to wrap the toilet paper around his hand like 5 times, wasting it lol.

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