When I wake up without a plan, aside from feeling frazzled, rushed, and completely unprepared, my finances feel the brunt of the affects. Money spent haphazardly bridges gaps that wouldn’t be there had I put some thought into what my schedule demanded.
Even if it takes a small bite out of your sleeping time, taking a few moments to get organized and think ahead can not only stop financial leaks, but lessen your overall stress as well.
Here are 3 ways to set your day up for financial success.
Know what your day holds and plan meals ahead
Are you sitting in the office all day and then heading home afterwards? Or are you going from meeting to meeting, picking up kids from school, and heading to an after-work event?
If you try to squeeze food stops into an already packed schedule, you’ll likely take on the “whatever-is-easiest” mentality. This is generally bad for your waistline (a drive-thru burger and fries is easier to grab on the go than anything else), and bad for your wallet.
Not to mention, too many decisions have been found to actually impair our ability to make good decisions overall – something that might start with too many choices for lunch and extend to brain exhaustion in the office.
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Make it easier on yourself and map out your meals for the day, including everything from breakfast to lunch and all the snacks in between. But whatever you do, make it something you’ll actually want to eat. It’s easy to get tempted by that fast food sign when you’ve packed something you don’t like or won’t be satisfied by.
Another lifesaver? A travel mug that keeps your coffee – or breakfast drink of choice – at the optimal temperature. I might prepare coffee at home that I don’t get around to drinking until 3 hours later, but it’s magically still hot. This helps eliminate the nagging voice in my head that says I should run across the street for a new cup.
Shoot for a no-spend day
Do you make a series of small expenditures during the workweek? It’s easy to do – a coffee here, a bag of chips there. Multiply that by 20 days, and you’ll notice a steady flow of useless money leaving your wallet.
If this problem sounds familiar, challenge yourself to at least one no-spend day a week. The payoff for this is two-fold: it will help you be more mindful with how you spend your money, but it will also encourage you to be more organized with shopping trips.
If, for instance, your dinner plans consist of anything you’re able to pick up from the store in 5 minutes or less, a no-spend day will make meal planning a necessity. The positive side effect of that is less stress come mealtime. That’s a win-win for everybody, right?
Make sure to track your savings after implementing your no-spend days. Seeing the results could push you to turn this into a habit instead of a fleeting challenge.
Do a check-in the night before
Routinely staying on top of your finances ensures you won’t be sitting in a meeting when, all of a sudden, you realize your credit card bill was due the night before. (Yes, I’ve been there.)
After running into a few snafus that could have easily been avoided if I would have set a few bill reminders and did the virtual equivalent of balancing my checkbook, I’ve learned how important it is to do a quick financial check-in at least every few days.
In a world where everything is digital, and most purchases are made with a card instead of cash, it’s easy to lose track of where our money is going – resulting in an overdraft fee, or, even worse, identity theft.
Keep track and, most importantly, know what funds are available to you beforehand.
If budgeting is what you struggle with and you can’t bring yourself to go through everything with a fine-toothed comb, then set a daily spending limit for yourself and have it ready in cash the night before. This will take away the pressure of having all funds easily accessible at all times during the day.
The bottom line
All three tips have one thing in common: organization, organization, organization. I may hate the process of ensuring I have a meal plan for the week and my bills are paid, but with so many things running through my head in the middle of the week, it takes a huge weight off my shoulders.
And if a few minutes of planning lightens the load, it’s time well-spent.