The personal story behind my ‘One Month’ plan
My ramblings last month relating to trying to control spending habits, The ‘ONE MONTH’ plan, was written on the 30th August, as it’s always nice to start off fresh after you have been paid. It’s like the Monday morning diet in a way! Not that I believe in them… but you get the picture.
Perhaps you sort out the bills, then spend a bit and finally save whatever’s left. Or perhaps you are just thinking about improving your spending habits a little (or a lot). Whatever the reason, I hope the post has prompted some thinking about delayed gratification, the benefits of saving and looking after the future ‘us’.
That was my Achilles heel. Too easy. No need to expand on that I reckon. Anyone that shops online understands how easy it can be. For me, sitting at a desk a lot of the day, it proved way too easy.
I bought ‘stuff’. Stuff I didn’t need until one day (and I’m not sure why I had this light bulb, ridiculously obvious, moment) I realised I have one body, one pair of feet, two shoulders to fit one(!) handbag, and way too much stuff.
So I started my ‘One month plan’ for myself.
If I really wanted it, I simply waited a while before I’d buy. For me it really was a light bulb moment. It changed my habits completely, instantaneously and I’ve never looked back.
For anyone reading this article, taking control of your personal finances or getting used to budgeting and saving can be difficult, I get that. Especially if you aren’t used to watching what you spend or are trying to form new savings / spending habits.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but like everything, practice makes perfect. Starting is key. Dreaming about controlling your finances ‘someday’ or starting a savings account ‘someday soon’ or knowing you feel it’s something you want to do, is not going to actually make it happen. We all know this.
Don’t overthink it. Don’t worry about how much over the long term you want to grow your savings for. Don’t procrastinate a day longer. Just start. Or ‘just do it’ as Nike would say.
A simple online savings account can be set up pretty quickly with most banking online services. It makes it quick and easy. Set the amount low enough that you feel comfortable you won’t feel stuck at the end of the month for cash. You can always increase the amount after a few months, when you realise you don’t miss this money.
I set my savings to be transferred out the day after payday. For me it’s easier if it’s gone on day one. I don’t have to think any further about it.
Since writing some articles I’ve been told by various people that ‘this comes easy to me’. I think it might be because I’m an accountant. I’m not sure. But as I’ve told the people that commented, we aren’t taught this stuff in school and I don’t remember being taught it in college (although perhaps I missed those lectures!) But in all seriousness, managing personal finances is definitely something I’ve learned over a period of years.
As a trainee accountant, straight out of college in the ‘90s, salaries weren’t what they are now. Starting on a salary that barely allowed me to pay something towards my living expenses at home was tough going. As you progress through the professional exams and gain experience, salaries rise. Within years I was earning more. Having more for me meant spending more. I was taught about savings from my parents. Very traditional, old school, sensible talk of putting money away, which of course I knew was sensible but I didn’t really think too much about upping savings as my pay increased.
The lesson of delayed gratification isn’t one everyone has to learn. It was definitely one for me and yes, I wish I’d have learned it earlier in my working life (when I think of clothing with tags still on that were given to friends, family or charity).
For any reader getting on track with personal budgeting and starting to look after their personal finances, I wish you well. It’s not realistic to think we won’t see something online we like (if you can relate to my story), but we can manage to take back control of our spending patterns. Over time, I can happily report that it does get easier !
As always, if there’s advice I can offer, please feel free to contact me to discuss anything and feel free to share this with anyone you feel may benefit.
Have a great weekend