Money. It sure is a stressful thing. It's the kind of thing that can cause alot of happiness or a lot of anger. It's the kind of thing that is always in the back of your mind no matter what you are doing. It is the kind of thing that can cause fissures in even the strongest of relationships. I see this every single day. As a banker, I spend 40+ hours every week helping people sort out their financial issues, offering advice, and putting people in better situations.
Now... here's my dirty little secret. I haven't been very good at practicing what I preach. I've come out and said it... and it doesn't make me feel any better. We live in a society of "buy it now and pay for it later" (Hello Visa AND 0% financing). It is so easy to dig yourself a hole. It is much harder to climb back out. I dug myself a hole. I have been trying to climb back out of it and FINALLY... there is a hint of light at the end of the tunnel. Our vehicles are now paid off as of this month which adds some extra money to our monthly budget.
Now this is where it gets tricky and it got me thinking...
Where to put the extra money... towards the outstanding balance on our credit card? Into our savings account? Spend it on something fun? I know what I would say to one of my customers, and I need to follow my own advice. I need to do ALL of these things. I need to put a majority of this money towards paying off credit cards. I need to set some money aside for something fun so that I don't feel deprived and go on a spending spree...(hmm, sounds a lot like dieting) and I need to build up our savings account so that just in case something were to happen, I don't turn towards my credit card for help. I need to take a look at my budget and my long-term goals. I need to set what amounts I will allocate where and stick to it. I would tell my customers to think of each of these things as a bill. Pay your savings account as you would pay a bill. Make it a priority, don't skip it. Building a savings is important. Pay yourself for all of your hard work so that you don't get frustrated and quit. Give yourself an allowance. Sometimes you need to spend some money on you. And when it comes to credit cards... throw everything else at them. Interest on credit cards will eat you alive.
I know its February and its it a little late for New Years resolutions but it is never too late to commit to a change. I am committing to following my own advice. Here's to a new plan and a new budget!