The Simple Dollar offers a month-long plan for fixing your finances. All you need is an open mind and an hour each day.
Now that the end of the month has come, one final challenge remains: how does one keep up the momentum once you start with it? The day to day challenges of life are difficult and uncertain, so how can this plan ever deal with an ever-changing life?
Unlike most financial plans, this one has something intimately familiar at its core: you. Because you’re at the core of this plan and not some form that you fill in and try to constrain your life to match, this plan can easily grow and change with you with just a few simple steps.
Once a week, make sure you’re making some sort of progress towards your short term goals. You don’t have to accomplish something every week, but keep them in mind – and regularly take the time to make forward progress towards your dreams.
Once a month, diligently update your life budget. You can do it with just money, but it’s often useful to re-calculate the hours of your life spent working for each item each month, as it is a healthy reminder of where your time goes.
Once every few months, evaluate your progress towards your long term goals. I like to do this on the first day of each season – not only does this keep me on an “every three months” pace, it keeps me in mind that time is passing and the seasons are changing, so I’d better keep up with it. This usually results in a flurry of new activities for a short period with a gradual slowing down – but it does keep me always moving towards my goals while many others stay stuck in place.
Once a year, reevaluate each of your life’s values and ask yourself whether they match your life now. When I first looked into my child’s eyes, the values of my life changed quite a bit, and thus my goals changed substantially as well. From that, unsurprisingly, my budget changed, too: I suddenly found great value in buying diapers, but also great value in buying books and educational toys for infants and toddlers. My values used to be such that buying software was in line with my life goals; now, buying wooden alphabet blocks for stacking is much more in line with what I want to be doing.
Even if you fall off, there is never a day where it’s too late to get back on. Even if you find yourself starting to fall back into your old ways, that doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon the plan. Old habits are hard to break. Try going through this entire process again to remind yourself where your values lie and what your goals are.