You’ve got a goal.
You found your motivation.
You even printed out your checklist.
The final — and let’s be frank — most difficult part of organizing your finances is actually doing it.
My recommendation is to put it on your calendar. Declare scheduling finances important and deserving of a spot in your busy schedule.
If you can, block out 15 minutes 2 times a week.
“Sometimes the bravest most important thing you can do is just show up,” says Brené Brown.
Her books, alongside those from Henri Nouwen and other well-loved authors, are some of my favorites. The quote above from Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead is one that keeps pushing me forward, especially if I’m busy or have had a long week. I encourage you to consider it as you get started on your personal finances.
It’s important and worth the time.
Here’s what to do during those 15 minutes:
Get familiarized and aware of what’s in your checklist.
Start with the “Yes” checkboxes
- For each online account:
- Do you know your password?
- What’s due?
- Balances or debts?
- Do you have beneficiaries listed (and/or do you know what that is?)
- For documents:
- Do you have them in an organized folder?
- Are they secure?
- Do you know where they all are?
- For income:
- Do you know generally where your money is coming from? Salary, side hustle, rentals?
- For expenses:
- Approximately how much does it cost you to “live” each month? Mortgage, rent, food, cell phone bill?
Now tackle the “Maybe” checkboxes
- A little search in your email history or digging around in your files may help you find some accounts you didn’t know you had–or confirm you definitely don’t have them.
Finally, those “No” checkboxes
This is going to look a bit different for everyone.
- If you have checked no, but have no idea what it is, it may not apply to you.
- Ex: If you’re not a military member, then you wouldn’t have a TSP.
- So just cross those off that don’t apply to you.
- If you have marked no, but have this feeling/thought that you should have it.
- Ex: Your employer mentioned a 401k back when you started your job.
- Mark on your calendar a time that you are going to contact the HR department to find out what you are eligible for.
- Still not sure? Ask your friends and family! My friends and I chat about our finances and ask each other questions at our kids’ playdates or happy hour.
Once you’ve gone through your checkboxes and their related tasks, take a moment to reflect on those 15 minutes.
Was it as bad as you thought it would be?
Do you feel a bit of relief?
Are you more overwhelmed now than when you started?
No matter what, hopefully, scheduling finances has allowed you to now have a better understanding of the tactile side of your finances and a stronger awareness of your accounts.
Once you’ve done this initial assessment, you’ve got two options:
1. Do It Yourself (DIY)
If this framework has given you the confidence to handle your finances, I would suggest scheduling 15 minutes every month to monitor and check in on your accounts. Look more deeply at your cash inflows and outflows and work toward your goals and dreams.
2. Get Some Help
If you’re having a hard time getting a handle on your finances and things are more complex than you expected, consider that you might need some assistance. That is where I come in. You can schedule a free 15-minute consultation and we can figure out where you’re at. Then, we’ll develop a plan to move forward.
Remember this is a journey, not a sprint. Keep showing up and scheduling time that works for you.
So go grab a coffee or wine and schedule time on your calendar. I applaud you for “showing up.”
The opinions expressed herein are those of Anna Nelson and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to sell any product. Forward-looking statements cannot be guaranteed. This document may contain certain information that constitutes “forward-looking statements” which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “expect,” “will,” “hope,” “forecast,” “intend,” “target,” “believe,” and/or comparable terminology. No assurance, representation, or warranty is made by any person that any of Anna Nelson assumptions, expectations, objectives, and/or goals will be achieved. Nothing contained in this document may be relied upon as a guarantee, promise, assurance, or representation as to the future. Anna Nelson is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.