If you are anything like my wife and I, you may have let the holiday spirit run free and possibly got off track with your finances. It’s okay to intentionally let go of the handlebars and coast on rare occasions, but we never want to completely lose control. If you missed our blog for letting go you can find it here.
Now that the holidays are over, we want to recover and set ourselves back on track to success. Just like when you let go of your handlebars while riding your bike and go to regain control, we don’t want any sudden movements or adjustments. Don’t go to regain control of your finances and over correct. Don’t come and look at the budget and say, “Oh well, I guess we can’t buy food this month because we bought Grandma Bette those bottles of Italian wine” or “Hey little Johnny, you got all the toys you asked for so now you have to go work in a sweatshop down the street to make up for it.” We want to intentionally take back control and assess where we may have allowed some slippage.
3 Simple Steps to Getting Your Finances Back on Track After the Holidays
Assess Extent of Course Deviation
As with any thing on autopilot there are corrections that need to be made. Even with supercomputers and autodriving cars there are algorithms to adjust course for unplanned actions like a car cutting you off or a change in wind gusts for a plane. So you need to see where you are financially and also how off that is from where you should be.
For example, where should your emergency fund be at after adding funds to it this month? Let’s say $10,500. When you look at it, its only at $9,750. Meaning, you deviated $750 off course.
Plan Course Correction
Now that we know how far off course we veered, now we need to look at our budget and all of the numbers (sinking funds, emergency funds, and bills). Get a new representation of the entire picture. Lets do this in two phases first lets take where we were before we let go (how intense, etc.). Next, let us take where we are and reassess the game plan to correct for the shortage. This might involve adjusting the budget for the next 2 months to get back on track. Talk about the different options.
There may even be some course corrections that you see now that you were not aware of before the holidays. But most of all, maybe now you see how much the holidays truly cost and since we use cash now we need to budget that more accurate number for next year. HINT: Christmas is less than 360 days away.
Execute Your Plan
This is the phase where we actually manuever the bike back on course. I want this to be with even more intensity and determination than before. Put the option you talked about in Step 2 into practice – physically adjust your budget, maybe sell that pile of unused stuff sitting in the garage to get back on track, or ask your boss for extra overtime in the next couple of weeks. I would actually suggest doing 2 or 3 things and getting back on track as soon as possible.
While coasting with no hands can rejuvenate you, no matter where you are in your journey, taking your hands off of the handlebars can also give you a false sense of power or status. If you were working through your debt with extreme focus and control and allowed yourself to take your hands off just briefly you probably felt a sense of accomplishment thinking I am so glad I know where I am financially because I know I can spend this or buy this gift.
Or maybe you have paid off the debt and are now working towards all your savings accounts and future goals (this is where we are). During this time you probably felt a freedom that you haven’t felt during the holidays before. A freedom inside allowing you to spend and give like never before. Not that you gave or spent more (you could have) but the feeling attached to a gift that doesn’t have an interest rate waiting for repayment is so joyous that I am honestly at a loss for how to put it into words. This year we were able to give without double checking an account or worrying about where we would have to cut back to be able to fit everyone on the list. And yet there are many people who went into this holiday season with not a payment due to anyone. No debt for bills or credit cards or student loans and even no house payment. I don’t know about you but I can not wait to be at the place of giving that those people are at.
Upcoming in January we will be doing a series of starting the budget and getting on track with money: Taking Control. We will also be doing special guest blogs for dreaming and starting to dream with intentionally.
We look forward to the new year and helping everyone we can reach Financial Freedom.
Charles Moore is a veteran, rocket doctor, financial coach, and blogger. If you’ve decided its time for you to suit up and fight for your financial freedom, check out his website at www.CAMFinancialCoach.comwhere you can get information on the coaching process, package options, and an unbeatable library of knowledge on winning financial battles.