2015 is now halfway over. Where did the time go? Though July may feel like it got here quicker than usual, now is the perfect time to revisit those financial goals and resolutions you made way back in January – use this moment to evaluate the progress you’ve made with your money and make any necessary changes to stay on track for the rest of the year.
Maybe it’s time to spend less on dining out and more on paying off credit card debt. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about investing or putting more money into your savings account? Or is now simply the time to give your finances a fresh start?
Regardless of your financial situation, the most important thing is that you’re on the journey to financial wellness by keeping an eye on your money. And though the first half of 2015 has come to a close, you have the chance to make the second half all the more rewarding financially and personally!
To help you do that, here are three tried-and-true tips to help you stay financially wise.
It’s not some scary, restrictive plan that cuts out all the fun from your life — a budget is simply a way to become aware of money and track your income and expenses. A budget also helps you make sure you’re continuing to use your money in alignment with what you value most.
For example, if you say you want to travel more and save for retirement, but you’re spending all your money on dining out or paying for things you don’t actually care about, your spending is out of alignment with your priorities. It happens! When you budget your money, you empower yourself with awareness — awareness of your good and bad habits will help you free up money for the things you really do want in your life.
And I mean everything. You may have been keeping track of every purchase in January, but by March you had stopped pay attention to each and every transaction. It may seem tedious, but it’s the only way you’ll get the clarity you need to continue making changes in your financial life. There are lots of great tools out there to help you track your expenses, such as Mint.com, but even a good old Excel spreadsheet will do the trick. When you have to individually enter each transaction week after week, you’ll maintain awareness about where and how you’re spending.
I can’t tell you how important “money dates” are to transforming your financial life. I came up with the idea a few years ago to help clients have more fun managing their money. By having a “date” with your money every week to update your budget, review your spending and forecast upcoming expenses, you’re able to stay vigilant about your financial goals. Over time, money dates will become a habit, and before you know it, they’ll be such a part of your routine that if you don’t have one, it will feel weird.
Now it’s your turn. Which tip will you use to help yourself continue to budget effectively for the rest of the year? Remember: small steps add up, so don’t underestimate the power of taking action on even just one of these tips.
Brittney Castro, Certified Financial Planner™, entrepreneur and personal finance expert for women, is the Founder & CEO of Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles based financial planning firm for women. She specializes in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial women who are passionate about life and want to gain clarity around their money. Brittney’s mission is to help women plan and create the life of their dreams, free from anxiety about money. She is known for her innovative, non-judgmental, compassionate approach to financial planning. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNBC, Financial Planning Magazine, Investment News, and Registered Rep Magazine. Away from the office, you can find Brittney working out, drinking green juice, reading, playing at the park with her dog Arya and of course dancing. Sign up to receive your Financially Wise Toolkit jam packed with great tools and resources to help you on your financial journey at www.financiallywisewomen.com. Follow her on Twitter at @brittneycastro.