FTC: This post is not sponsored and I am not a financial advisor. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
One of the best ways to getting your financial life in track is to fall into a positive routine. And I stress positive because all too often we find ourselves in a financial rut due our negative money routines. Money lends itself to irresponsibility quite easily, and it is up to us to really focus on using it in a way that yields beneficial returns to us at all times. This means creating a routine or several routines that allow you to make the right decisions for your money more often than not.
Routine and plans can be very cumbersome… that is something I understand all too well. However, it is crucial, vital even to create a daily, weekly and monthly routine that works best for you. For me personally, I chose to go the monthly route because I add money to my savings accounts on a monthly basis. Daily or weekly would be too overwhelming for me, and with that level of anxiety I would fall of the rails of my routine quite frequently.
So what does my monthly financial routine look like you might ask? Let me break it down in the 10 simplest of steps… because anything more than simple really is a waste of my time.
10 Step Monthly Financial Routine
1. Pay My Monthly Bills:
Well this is an obvious DUH step in my financial routine. All my bills are paid digitally so I sit down one day in the first half of the month and setup my bills to be paid on the 15th of the month. I don’t automate my bill pay (except for my WIFI bill) but it is something I am considering doing in the next few months in order to take less of the onus on me. I pay the bills, but I’d like to do so mindlessly. Makes it less painful that way really!
2. Add Money to My Savings Accounts:
I add money to all of my savings accounts at the end of the month with my second paycheck. My first paycheck of the month (I get paid twice a monthly on a bi-weekly pay schedule) pays all of my bills, and fortunately for me my second check usually goes straight into my savings accounts. This means my Emergency fund (which gets the hugest chunk of money), my dog savings account, and my vacation savings account. On occasion on my really high spending months (usually in the summer or around the holidays) I also use my second check to pay off my credit card balance.
3. Track My Spending From Previous Month:
On Instagram in 2018 I shared my monthly expense report publicly as it kept me honest and focused when I was preparing to buy my first home. Since I moved in 2019, I stopped sharing it publicly, but still continued to track it for my own purposes. Tracking your expenses helps you see exactly where your money is going consistently, and where you can make some changes in order to improve your financial responsibility. Most of the time I find I go over my grocery budget, and have since become more cognizant of using what I have at home, cooking, and splurging less on random buys at Trader Joes.
4. Pay off any credit card balance:
I try my hardest not to go from month to month with a credit balance. For starters as someone who has dealt with the woes of high interest student loans, I have a huge fear and disdain of interest. And credit cards have some of the worst compound interest rates that exist. Besides not wanting to pay extra for something I bought earlier in the month, carrying balances from month to month also negatively impacts your credit score. If I can’t pay off the entire balance by the end of the month then I often will make a large payment to at least bring the balance down to something more manageable or less frightening.
5. Check in on all my accounts:
This doesn’t just mean checking in on your bank accounts, this means I check in n all of my open accounts to make sure they are in good standing and nothing has gone awry. The digital age has been quite a blessing in many aspects of my life, but that doesn’t mean that errors can’t occur. There were two occasions where I thought I paid my electric bill and the payment just simply did not go through. If I wasn’t constantly checking my accounts I’d never know, and I’d definitely be sitting in the dark confused.
6. Track my current financial goals:
Whatever my financial goals are for the week, month, day, year…etc I like to see how far I’ve come in gaining traction towards that goal, and how much further I need to go. This also allows me to make adjustments to my goals if I find I’m reaching them much quicker than anticipated, or I’m not making as much progress as I’d like to.
7. Set new financial goals:
Once I’ve tracked my financial goals, I adjust, get rid of and add in new financial goals. Especially if I’ve achieved the goals that I was previously working towards. For example in December 2018 I paid off my student loans, and closed on my first home in January 2019. Once those two major life events happened, I had to re-evaluate my financial goals and come up with new ones since I had been focused on those two for so long. Now I’m working on building a larger emergency fund and paying down a large amount of my mortgage in a shorter period of time. *Fingers crossed* pray for me ya’ll!
8. Create a master shopping list:
This is something I know I should do more loyally but I just don’t do it enough. By creating a master shopping list for the month I can gauge what I am going to need, what I need to restock and what I can avoid purchasing overall. This is also a great way to make sure you don’t overspend on groceries, and can properly grab coupons for items you know that you need or will need in the near future.
9. No Spend Days:
While I was preparing to move on my own for the first time I did this so well. I even had a digital tool that helped me track my no spend days on a monthly basis (I shared it on Instagram too if you want to use it take a look/follow). By limiting my spend days to 2-3 days a week I was more cautious with my spending and really prioritized what I needed and what I believed I needed in the moment. It helped curb tons of impulse purchases, and even on days where I was “allowed” to spend money, I found myself avoiding it all together if possible. The trick with no spend days, is when you have a “spend day” it is not the time to catch up on all the spending you didn’t do the other days. Because that honestly defeats the purpose!
10. Update my Budget:
This is something I do on a monthly basis, and that is because sometimes different months require different budgeting techniques or methods depending on the goal and what life is throwing my way. If you struggle with budgeting you’ll want to check out this post here detailing the pros and cons of 7 different budgeting techniques you can try on for size.
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Until next time,
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Hey there! I’m Melissa, co-founder of Trials n Tresses, natural hair and beauty lover, binge tv watcher and lover of life. When I am not creating content for TNT, I’m busy teaching the future of society.