The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines financial well-being as having control over your day-to-day and month-to-month finances, and being able to withstand a financial shock. In other words, you need nerves of steel and control.
A weekly routine can give you control, and control can lend itself to nerves of steel. Debt.org says: "When there is a sense of control over the money coming in and the money going out, the stress can transform into a feeling of empowerment." Creating a weekly routine that leads to control can come with its own challenges, but some simple steps can take you a long way.
Keep Track of Your Spending
Odds are that you handed money over to someone today, whether to pay a bill or to grab a meal on the fly. Get into a budgeting habit of keeping track of every dime so you truly understand where you're overspending. Use your phone to snap a picture of that bill you just paid, or that receipt before you toss it into the nearest trashcan.
You can skip the pictures if you always use your debit card. Check your account online for all the expenditures and debits that hit your account over the course of the week and keep track of them.
Start on Monday, then look at your phone on Sunday night. Total up what you spent. You can take steps to spend less on unnecessary things once you know where your money goes as it flows out of your accounts. Shop around for more manageable health insurance premiums, or brown-bag it for lunch just one day a week if necessary. Make it a point to keep snapping those pictures and take a look at what you spent once a week, at week's end, to make sure you're staying on track.
The Internet Is Your Friend
Virtually no one sits down with a checkbook and pen to pay their bills these days, but are you grabbing your phone or laptop every few days to pay this bill or that one? You can save time and save money, too, if you sign up for online bill payment so you're not potentially incurring late fees. Many banks and credit unions offer this service, or you can set up automatic debits with the companies you're paying. Some credit card lenders will even give you a break on your interest rate if you sign up for auto-pay.
You can incorporate this into your last-night-of-the-week routine, making sure the funds are available in your account so it doesn't result in bouncing chaos and bank fees rather than late charges. Arrange for direct deposit of your paychecks while you're at it, too, if possible. Set up an automatic transfer of a livable percentage from one account to another account to meet your savings goals.
Designate a Shopping Day
The greatest budget-busters are impulse purchases, particularly large ones. Consider designating one day a week as your shopping day, the one when you're going to head to the grocery store, visit the mall or check online to see what amazing money-saving deals Amazon has to offer. You might decide on Tuesday that you really need that new pair of designer shoes, but don't let yourself act on that urge until your regularly scheduled shopping day arrives. Chances are that you might decide that they're not really that necessary after all. It's a time-saving plan that will also save you money because you're spending less time in stores.
Think of all the additional free time you'll be able to spend with friends and loved ones if you're not rushing out to this store or that one four times a week. You might even schedule in a "no spend" or "best save" day, focused on activities that won't cost you money from that budget you worked to create and maintain.
- Virginia Credit Union: 10 Tips for Saving Money
- Smart About Money: Habits That Build Financial Wellbeing
- HelpGuide.org: Coping with Financial Stress
- America Saves: 54 Ways to Save Money
- Debt.org: Benefits of Budgeting
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: CFPB Releases Financial Well-Being Report With State-by-State Comparisons