READ TIME: 2.5 MINUTES
Many of you know that in 2017, I went from having more than $13,000 in credit card debt to ZERO. It certainly wasn’t an easy journey from Point A to Point B, and I almost completely gave up in October.
From time to time, friends and readers will ask how I did it – all without a full-time job or consistent income. Truth be told, the answer isn’t simple. A lot of different strategies worked together to get the big scary balance down to nada.
I’d carried thousands in credit card debt for years – at least since the end of college. Although the total number fluctuated over the years, I also carried a lot of shame, regret and embarrassment.
So many friends and acquaintances I know are struggling to pay off student loan debt, but in the process acquiring that debt, they earned graduate degrees.
What did I even buy with all of that fake money?
I’m sure I’ll share the whole story at some point, but for today – I want to share one thing that I can absolutely credit with keeping my head in the game and staying focused on the end goal – a weekly money routine.
Whether you’re struggling to pay off debt, saving for a dream home down payment or socking away money for retirement, anyone can benefit from the peace of mind that comes with a regular money routine.
Management consultant Peter Drucker is credited with saying, “What gets measured, gets managed.”
For me, what got “monitored” got managed.
Every Friday in 2017 – I looked at all of my credit card accounts and wrote down the balances for each. Then I added up all the debt and calculated how much it had changed from the previous week.
Sometimes it went up, sometimes down, and sometimes it’s stayed the same. But the simple act of monitoring the numbers EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. kept the goal of paying it all off top of mind.
My personal money routine has changed a bit since making the final credit card payment and starting a small business, but many of parts and pieces are still the same.
Check balances on all credit card accounts and make payments.
Yep – I still have a few credit card accounts, like my Target REDcard (save 5% on every purchase + free shipping) that I use occasionally and aim to pay off immediately.
Check “house bills” like our water bill, electric, trash etc and make payments.
Check bank accounts.
Review and reconcile transactions and budget in YNAB.
We started using YNAB in September. I like it so far, but jury’s still out on whether we’ll continue to use this as a budget tracker.
Repeat for business stuff.
WHY YOU NEED A MONEY ROUTINE
Routines = Autopilot
You know how much I love routines. They’re a lot like putting yourself on autopilot in that you can get into a groove checking off each step. You’re not making decisions or reinventing the wheel. I think we could all use a little more brain space, amiright?
It’s Scheduled Time to Worry
Having a set, scheduled time each week to review your money stuff is kind of like scheduling time to worry. Instead of checking your bank account 5 times on Tuesday, knowing that you have the time set aside on Friday (or whichever day is best for you) might decrease the compulsive (and time-wasting) urge to check your accounts.
You Won’t Miss Anything
It’s really tough to forget to pay a bill or miss a fraudulent transaction when you’re monitoring on a weekly basis.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR MONEY ROUTINE
Your finances don’t look like mine, so I don’t expect your money routine to look like mine either.
Here are a few tips for creating your own:
Create a bookmark folder in your browser with links to each of your accounts. I have a folder called Money, and inside are subfolders for Cards, Cash and House Bills. Having all of these links at my fingertips makes the process super efficient.
Write down your routine from start to finish and create a checklist. You can keep your checklist in something like Trello, like I do, or in a Word Doc or Google Doc. Just make sure it lives somewhere so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time you sit down.
Put your money meeting on your calendar and stick to it.
“The worst promise you can break is the one you make to yourself.” – David Kirsch
Can I save more time and worry during the week by creating and implementing a weekly money routine?
What should I include in my weekly money routine?
Who is someone that I can ask to keep me accountable to monitoring my money?
Set aside time to set up the structure for your weekly money routine.
Add your weekly money routine to your calendar.
Learn more about the intersection of money and happiness in this WSJ article.
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