As in anything we do, it’s important to create a routine that works for our lives. When is comes to finance, these seven financial rituals are sure to improve your bank account and overall financial productivity. While most people are living paycheck to paycheck and living above and beyond their means, it’s important to focus on your own financial situation without comparing yourself to others. Know your numbers! Below are some suggestions for you to add into your day.
It’s important to stay in touch with your budget. This, of course, is assuming you have one. Stop making the word “budget” a four-letter word. Most people don’t have a budget because they hate the mere sound of the word, it conjures up images of dread and horror. This does not have to be the case, and you can make it a simple process — you need, and should have a budget. In my experience as a tax accountant and financial coach, the average person knows how much their car payment and rent/mortgage (fixed expenses) cost, but they don’t know how much they spend on food (variable expense).
At the beginning of each pay period, list your income at the top and subtract out your listed fixed expenses followed by your variable expenses. Keep this information on a spreadsheet and update the balances daily. Or, just keep a notebook and write it down. If you are a “spend on the go” (impulse) person — this exercise will help you be mindful with your money, while keeping you aware of what’s entering and exiting your account as opposed to having your money be out of sight and out of mind.
The average person wishes they had a better car, bigger house, and a vacation home on a coast somewhere but they never get it. Why? Because they never plan for it. How long does it take for the average person to achieve their dreams? The answer is that the average person says that they don’t achieve their dreams. But, you must know, or at least feel it at some level — it doesn’t have to be this way. People don’t get their shiny toys — because it’s not in their realm of thinking — and possibility. Do yourself a favor and write down every material thing you desire. In many cases, dreams don’t cost as much as you may think. By knowing this figure, and the items you desire, you can do simple arithmetic and calculate how much you need to save or produce per month to make it all happen for yourself.
Read and listen to podcasts
Reading is one of the most important rituals on this list. Read things that matter. You don’t have to sit with a hardcopy to read. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts as you drive. Check out some great speeches on YouTube. As the great Jim Rohn said, “don’t major in minor things.” Take a glance at the business page (or listen to it) and learn how our economy works. This small cruise through economics can go a long way by keeping you a step ahead of people who don’t really know. The real principle of self-improvement behind reading is the ability to anticipate what is going to happen. Knowing what’s happening, how things happened, and how things work can help us make better informed decisions. For those of you who hate to read or simply don’t have the time, again, there are thousands of podcasts that can fill you in on the details.
Periodic meetings with a financial coach or mentor can also go a long way. As the saying goes, we are who we spend the most time with. Adding a financial expert to your inner circles (even if you have to pay them) will add value. If nothing else, this will add accountability to your actions. Knowing you’ll have to explain your financial shortcomings may be just what you need.
Invest in yourself
Whether it be for your job or your business, make sure you don’t fall into a state of complacency. Things happen and life gets in the way but it’s imperative we are investing in ourselves. Take that course, go to that seminar, or pay for that session. Many times employers will pay for certain events. If you’re a business owner and can prove it is correlated to your business, you can write it off against your income tax for the year.
At the end of each week, evaluate whether you are adding value. Have you done so with your job, business, or general skill set — how about for yourself? This exercise, if done often and honestly, will increase your self awareness. Who or what have you added value to and how? It’s important you don’t expect anything back. Doing so will give off the snake oil salesman vibe, nobody want’s that. You can add value by helping someone with their cause. It will take some imagination and creativity on how to effectively add value. It will require you to recognize what people need at a particular time, sometimes without them asking.
Paying it forward and giving are important in business and personal finance. Not only are you helping those in need but you are building a good reputation in the community. I am a big believer in giving for the right reason, whatever reason that is, your generosity will not go unnoticed, not to mention the relationships you will build by adopting this ritual into your life. You just never know what opportunity anyone has in store for you or vice versa.
Adopt these seven financial rituals and practice them each week or month, you will surely be better for it. Though many of us are unaware, we all have rituals. Let’s make sure our rituals get us to where we want to go!