Three Steps to Improving Your Financial Life—Even Though It’s Summer

 

 

summerYeah, it’s hot. It’s also humid, and the air conditioner is fighting like a gladiator with temperatures kissing triple digits. Thoughts of cold drinks, hammocks, or beach chairs swim in your head. The summer is flying by, and the inevitable reality of the autumn is approaching when you’ll get back to thinking about the list of resolutions, goals, and projects to be accomplished before the December 31.  Suddenly, the temperature just shot up a few more degrees.

The ticking clock, regardless of how diligently we try and ignore it, is eventually the winner, and unless you engage, you’re really the loser. Take a moment and think back to the last time you thought or said, “How did this happen? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was in high school?” (Yeah, it’s hot.)

It’s so easy to fall into the summer doldrums and laze your way to Labor Day. The problem is, Labor Day becomes Columbus Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and eventually New Year’s Eve—and you’re right back to creating your New Year’s resolutions for major accomplishments and positive change.  Sound familiar?

It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you are closer to the shift than you can even believe.   Take a sip of your iced beverage of choice, and let’s create a path to something remarkable. Yes, I know the only activity you’re craving is to turn over and have suntan lotion applied to your back. But trust me, you’re gonna LOVE this!  Here we go:

  1. Pick one thing that will improve your financial life. Maybe it’s setting up an automatic investment plan or more aggressively paying off debt or even increasing your 401(k) contribution by a small amount.
  2. Write down how this one small step moves you closer to your goals. In other words, why is this important?
  3. Break down the process to accomplish that one goal into the steps necessary.  For example, if it’s setting up an automatic investment plan, chances are you can do it all online. If it’s paying down your credit card, you can log on to the credit card site and set up the autopay option. If it’s increasing your 401(k) contribution, you need your login info.

That’s it! Drop the mic—you’re done.

Our internal resistance kicks in when we are faced with matters that cause us discomfort or stress.  We are great avoiders, especially when we are uncomfortable with matters where we lack expertise. You don’t need to be a Certified Financial Planner in order to address some of these issues that just need small actions.  Your lack of financial acumen can be improved by doing some reading, consulting with experts and moving steadily in the direction of your highest values.

Let’s face it, unless you’re proficient in computer repair, if your laptop goes haywire, you’re calling tech support. If your tooth hurts, you’re visiting the dentist. If your air conditioner fails, unless you are trained, you’ll walk on broken glass to find someone to fix it and restore the flow of cool air.  So, why wouldn’t the same idea apply to your money?  The fix isn’t all that complicated; simply search for a fee-only planner in your area (NAPFA.org or PLANNERSEARCH.org).  Believe it or not, you can do this right online too!

You see, with a small amount of effort, you have moved your financial life forward. It was literally pain-free.  Some things you can do yourself, while others might require the help of a professional. But considering the stakes (your financial well-being), it makes complete sense.

Don’t wait for the days, weeks, months, and years to go speeding past.  Time can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Waiting too long can put you in dire straights and eliminate the options and choices you value highly.  But timely action, broken down into manageable pieces, can boost your confidence and build momentum.

Now, pass the sunscreen, stay hydrated and enjoy what’s left of the summer!

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