Make a Plan For Your Money, and Relax

Getting your finances organized in the first place is hard enough without constant saving, managing and scrutinizing every bank statement. Yes, you need to have a plan. But you also need to relax.

You may or may not know this about me, but I’m a tad bit of a control freak. Take the passion for numbers and add in a Type A personality and you have me, the person who loves to dig into spreadsheets, track spending down to the penny and run through thousands of “what-if” scenarios each month.

My actions both amuse and frighten my husband, who is more laid back with our finances. He believes they’ll work themselves out (with my help, obviously.) He keeps telling me to relax. Guess what? He’s right.

It often takes so long for us to get ourselves focused on organizing our finances and money initially that once we do, we want to hurry up and get to the finish line. Kind of like standing impatiently in front of the microwave oven, waiting for your Kraft Mac & Cheese to finish.

Except your finances aren’t like the boxed stuff. Your finances are the gooey, homemade noodles, grated cheddar cheese, baked in a casserole until it’s crispy around the edges kind of Mac n’ Cheese. The really good stuff takes the initial time and effort to get it prepped, some midpoint check-ins along the way – and patience. Staring into the oven every other second is not going to make it bake any faster.

There’s a lot of work that goes into organizing your finances, from figuring out how much you own, setting up an accurate spending plan to laying out goals. While understanding where your money comes and goes and having a detailed plan are important, it’s also essential to have fun along the way.

Your money needs to be managed on an ongoing and consistent basis, but not to the point where it’s not fun or stresses you out. If you have an emergency fund and you’re stashing away money each month to meet your goals, then live a little. A good work-play balance is going to help you stay motivated and invested in your long-term success.

One of the ways to strike that balance is to set up a system for periodic check-ins. Perhaps check in on your spending and budget every Sunday night and then do an overall, big “money date” once a month. This keeps you in line, but also ensures that you aren’t bogged down with the intricate details.

Remember that your financial journey is not likely to be a straight path to success. It’s a jungle gym with twists, turns, up and downs. Part of the fun comes from taking part in the adventure and celebrating wins (big and small) along the way.

When you receive a year-end bonus, commissions or other extra income, set aside some money to treat yourself. A reasonable allocation can be 50% debt pay down, 30% savings, 20% for whatever you choose. As long as you’re on track, enjoy the ride.

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Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP, is the founder of Workable Wealth, an RIA in San Diego. She is a writer, speaker and financial coach passionate about working with individuals and couples in their 20s and 30s to help them organize and gain confidence in their financial lives. She has been quoted or featured in various industry publications on the local and national level. You can find her on Twitter at @marybstorj.

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