Friday, March 18, 2011


Left sock, right sock, left shoe, right shoe.  Although it sounds like a forgotten line from a Dr. Seuss classic, it is actually how I've gotten dressed for as long as I can remember.  My husband drops his keys in the exact same place every day. We all have habits and many of them are so ingrained in us we don't even give them a second thought.

By developing a few easy habits, you can get a firmer grip on your finances without putting forth much effort. Let's concentrate on your wallet or purse.

**1** Pick a Card, Any Card: Whether you use them for convenience or think they are the work of the devil, we have credit cards. Chose the one you want to focus on. Perhaps it is the one with the highest interest or the one with the lowest balance. Your goal is develop the habit of thinking about this one card whenever you pay the bills. I love the feel of pen and paper, so I keep a credit card statement in my ledger. I see it often because I've developed the habit of reviewing the finances daily. In doing so, I stay on track and feel like I'm getting ahead. You will start telling yourself, 'It's time to pay the bills so let me see where I stand with X.' By being mindful you will begin to focus on eliminating this debt without even realizing it. Amazingly, this will take root very quickly in your financial psyche.

**2** Change is Good:  The change you are carrying is heavy and you aren't really spending it. When you come home at the end of the day, empty it into a jar. Use it for fun money, an extra payment, the gift/vacation/new tire fund or anything you want it as long as it is put to good use and kept out of a vending machine.

**3** Never Leave a Paper Trail:  Another end of day move is to get the paper out of the way. This is a big deal. It is way too easy to forget your debit receipt from this morning's gas and coffee run and, oops, now you have an overdraft charge. I strongly recommend logging in transactions as they happen but sometimes the real world happens.  Make yourself log them in immediately or devote two minutes after you get home to log them in. This one is non negotiable.

These actions are not revolutionary. They are classics that have been around for quite some time.  Once you begin to worry less about your finances, the results will feel revolutionary. Occasionally, we just need to be reminded of what works best.

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