The Sunday Afternoon Money Routine

Most Sunday afternoons, when my children are taking a nap, I spend about an hour taking care of regular tasks, many of which are directly money related. Here’s what I do each Sunday afternoon.

I process my entire inbox. I’m pretty adamant about practicing some aspects of Getting Things Done, so the first thing I do is go through my inbox and make sure things are dealt with. Once that’s done, I go to another pile, which I call my “Sunday pile,” and start rummaging through that to see what I have to deal with. My “Sunday pile” usually consists of bills and items that need to be filed.

I pay every outstanding bill. One great thing about having some financial cushion, compared to where I used to be, is that I can easily handle every bill that comes in. I don’t have to “time” payments any more to make sure that they slip in there without a late fee but after my paycheck is deposited in my checking account – I have enough on hand to pay almost every bill that comes my way. The ones with standard payments are on automatic, but the variable bills, like the energy bill and the cell phone bill and any magazine renewals, are handled all at once each Sunday based on which ones had come in during the week.

I calculate my net worth. As I mentioned recently, I calculate my net worth on a weekly basis, mostly for the psychological aspect of keeping me honest about my spending. I can see very clearly where my money is going and I strive for improvement on a weekly basis. This really does keep me honest about things.

I project ahead to debt freedom. After touching all of my accounts, I have more information to add to my model of when we might become debt free. If I work hard one week and live frugal, I often find that the date for debt freedom will gradually slide earlier and earlier, whereas if I spend wastefully, it slides later and later.

I file away my documents. I have not yet quite developed a strong electronic filing system – that will have to wait until I get my workstation fully set up (it’s very, very cumbersome to do this with a laptop). So, for now, I file the papers by hand into my own filing system.

I read something financial. Sometimes, I explore a personal finance blog I haven’t read before; other times, I might hop on board with a personal finance book that really has me intrigued. Other times, I even read the financial section from the Sunday paper. I usually just read for a little while to get my mind rolling, and then from there I start jotting down ideas for The Simple Dollar (most of which come from a mishmash of ideas in my head).

If you were to stop by my house on Sundays about noon or so, you would almost always find me going through this very routine. Making it a standard part of my life has really made all the difference for keeping my eye on the ball and regularly making strong financial moves.