I’m not dim enough to think December 31st actually matters. It’s as arbitrary a date as any other. And while December 31st is often used as a deadline or marker, it’s just another 24 hr period. Alas, deadlines and markers are important, because they help hold us accountable to our goals. As you know, “I want to save $5,000 by someday in the future,” doesn’t really work. Thus, we invite a specific date to the party.
Guess what, December 31st is just seven months away. Take the time today to establish a financial strategy for the rest of 2014. It should work like this:
1. Select a 30 day goal– You need to get this party started. I happen to think this works best by reining-in a spending problem. Pick your problem spending category and commit to reducing it, by an amount of your choosing, in the next 30 days. Now the important part, make sure this newfound “savings” gets allocated toward your financial priorities.
2. Find a potential income shift- You’d be surprised how many performance reviews and pay raises take place in the second half of the year. If yours is coming up, use the pay raise to make a financial difference in your life. And no, I don’t mean go out to eat more, buy more clothes, and buy a new car. I mean either increase your retirement plan contributions or pay down debt more aggressively.
3. Grab a calendar- Take 10 minutes and look ahead. What’s coming? What annual or semi-annual payments are coming due? Look for your vacations or wedding or big parties. You are looking for expenses that are unusual in nature, and can potentially throw a wrench into your financial spokes. By the way, a wrench in your spokes is bad.
4. Look for three paychecks- If you happen to be on a 26-pay schedule, then there are two months, every year, in which you receive three paychecks. Find those months, and make sure you are efficient with the “extra check”.
It’s going to be arbitrary December before you know it, get after it today.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.