After dedicating a good chunk of time to mapping out my goals for the year, fully covering both my professional and personal life, I noticed a trend. Everything I hoped to accomplish for the year – from meal planning to implementing a better filing system — revolved around creating a more streamlined, simple life.
The biggest pain points I identified in order to craft my goals – like spending hours looking for lost paperwork and scrambling for forgotten passwords – can all be tied together with one theme: organization. And as I decided the steps I needed to take in the first quarter of the year, I noticed something else – accomplishing these tasks will have a major impact on my finances.
In seeing this connection, I’ve named organization as my one major financial goal for the year. Here’s why it should be yours as well.
It eliminates the need to make purchases based on convenience.
Meal planning is something I’ve always struggled with, starting with intensity, then eventually letting it taper off out of exhaustion, frustration, or both. Then, I had an epiphany. Pairing meal planning with becoming an amazing chef doesn’t actually go hand-in-hand. Meal planning is supposed to make weeknights easier, not present you with a brand new recipe to tackle when chores need to be done and sleep needs to be had.
This time around, I pulled together the tasty recipes I already know how to make, while also ensuring leftovers had a spot on the calendar to cut down on food waste. I put these in a two-week time span with a plan to repeat for the second half of the month.
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While the upfront time it took me to make this plan was significant (I won’t lie about that), it does something huge for me: cuts down on the need to purchase convenience foods (i.e. fast food), while also limiting trips to the grocery store where I’m prone to make impulse purchases.
It helps you pave the way for other financial goals.
When I worked a steady 9-5, I knew exactly how much I was putting towards my savings each month. A percentage went to retirement, a percentage went to other unidentified long-term savings, and another percentage went to a short-term savings fund for things like vacation.
Along with the freedom of self-employment came variable income and a much greater need for more advanced tracking systems — without which I have virtually no idea how much I can allot to things like a vacation fund.
If your level of financial organization allows you to do nothing more than pay your bills on time without over-drafting your account, reaching financial goals or milestones is impossible. Period.
On the other hand, if you have a firm grasp of what your financial obligations are and how much additional income you have at your disposal, you suddenly have the ability to allocate this money to bigger short-term purchases and long-term planning.
Organization allows you to be in the driver seat of your financial situation, instead of simply hoping you will still be afloat a few months or years down the road.
It allows you to exchange time upfront for less stress moving forward.
When I sat down on a Saturday night to flip through recipes and write out what I would be eating every breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next month, I had one thought: how can I possibly commit to doing this every month for the rest of the year?
Then I realized I don’t need to reinvent the wheel every month. I simply need to type up this 2-week meal plan, make a master grocery shopping list, and keep both on hand to repeat in upcoming months. Since I plan to use this 2-week plan for a full month, I only need maybe 6 similar plans and I’m covered for the year.
While getting organized might require a significant initial time commitment, it doesn’t have to be repeated month after month. In fact, the upkeep is usually minimal. What this upfront times saves is inconvenient chunks of time throughout the week as well as the stress of feeling like you’re always one step behind.
With systems in place and our finances organized, we are able to make better decisions on a day-to-day basis because our brains aren’t preoccupied by small, insignificant but essential tasks – like deciding what to eat for dinner.
If you’re sick of not being able to look at the bigger picture because you’re too consumed by working out the logistics of your daily life, make organization your one financial goal this year. I know I’m already glad I did.