Tips like these helped us pay off $127K in debt. You can read our story in Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.
It’s hard to believe another month has come and gone. It’s a fantastic time to get your finances back on track. But where do you begin? What can you do? I’m so glad you asked.
Evaluate What You Owe
No matter how hard you squint your eyes tightly, you can’t wish your debt away. Suit up and total up. Stare the hard, cold facts in the eyes. From outstanding balances from months past, to any debt you might have racked up during the previous 30 days, add up what you owe. Whether you simply crack out a legal pad or use your computer doesn’t matter. Just do the work. You can use the free printable budget worksheets to kick start the process.
Forecast This Year’s Expenses
This might require a little bit of legwork, but gather together your bills from the previous year (even the previous month will be helpful if you don’t have them all). Make note of the due date and average monthly expense. Your bank account activity from the last six months is more than likely online, so you can easily get an estimate for the year ahead. Don’t forget to include your mortgage or rent, utilities, any loan payments, or credit cards. Scour through every category of spending. Again, the free printable budget worksheet and money expenditure log will help you get on track.
Keep Better Track of Your Tax Documentation
Hooray, this could be your month to better monitor your spending for tax purposes, especially if you itemize. This very day, find a box (it can simply be a shoebox) to place your receipts in for the rest of the year. From medical expenses to job expenses, every time you make a tax deductible purchase, place the receipt in the box. Future you will thank you when April 15 rolls around in the next calendar year.
Decide to Use Cash Only in the Grocery Store This Month
If I could set a Monthly Spending Habit Goal for you, this would be the one that makes the money saving angels and me sing in harmony. So, so many people find switching to a cash only system challenging. Perhaps you’re not ready to go plastic-less in every category of spending, but if you can make this the month of using cash in the grocery store. You’ll be surprised at how far you can stretch a dollar while still staying on track with your budget.
Ask for Help
Feeling overwhelmed by your finances? Wallowing in feelings of hopelessness will not help your current situation. Reach out to those you know who do well with money and ask them what they do. Spoiler: Typically the people who know the least about handling money well offer the most advice (which is almost always dead wrong). Those who know what they’re doing are often humble so you might have to track them down. If you don’t know anyone who is successful with their finances, reach out to a local church. Many churches offer courses on money management at the beginning of the year. Or visit the local library to check out books that will guide your journey.
Avoid Sitting on the Sidelines
Anything worth doing takes effort and requires struggle. Refuse to follow the pack and allow poor choices to define your financial future. Manage your money like it’s your job or like your life depends upon it, because truthfully it is your job and your life does depend upon it. The steps above will help you dip your toes into the waters of being proactive with your finances in a new month. You will have to hustle to own your year, though. Each penny you save can be leveraged toward freedom.
I know this can be your best month yet for managing your resources well. You have 30 more days of awesome remaining. Dig in and get after it, Money Saving Lords and Ladies.
My book is now available: Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After. You can also check out Inspiration to Pay Off Debt: 30 Days of Encouragement from the Queen of Free on Kindle.
This post contains an affiliate link. That means when you get a great deal or maybe even something for free, you also help our family pay off our mortgage early. And for that, we royally thank you!