Summer is right around the corner. You know what that means? People are working hard to get in shape for the beach, BBQs, and summer vacation. Summer is a nice time to turn a new leaf and enjoy life.
It's also a great time to get financially fit, as well as physically fit. We're just about half-way through the year, so it's a great time to evaluate your goals, track your progress, and check in with your money goals.
Here are 5 ways to get financially fit for the summer:
Do a Budget Check Up
After almost six months in 2015, how is your budget doing? Are you failing miserably, or holding on steady? Doing a budget check up can help you see where your problem areas are and also prepare your financial life for what is ahead. I feel like people tend to spend more in the summer due to vacations, outings, etc. It's key to implement those increased spending areas into your budget, so that you don't set yourself up for failure and disappointment.
What's the State of Your Debt?
Now is the perfect time to check in on the state of your debt. Many of us had inspired resolutions of paying off debt in the new year, but that enthusiasm can quickly wane. Do an honest assessment. Are you feeling debt fatigued? Are you on target to reach your payoff goals?
If you're feeling frustrated with the debt payoff process, create a board on Pinterest called Life After Debt, with all of your visions for the future. It's so important to remember why it's important for you personally to get out of debt.
To stay financially fit for the summer, increase your payments by $5. If you can do more, then put more to debt, but even just increasing your payments a little bit can have a great overall effect.
Get Prepared for the Rest of the Year
I don't know about you, but the rest of my year is shaping up to be quite eventful. It's exciting, but also a bit stressful. When I think about why I'm stressed, I realize it's because I feel like a lot of things are vying for my money and time and I feel stretched thin. Luckily, through preparation you can ease some of the stress.
Think about the rest of your year. Are you going to any conferences? Have you started a savings bucket for the holidays (I know it's early, but the best way to avoid debt is to plan ahead). Do you have any big life changes coming up, such as moving, having a child, or getting married? All of these things require changes to your budget and savings strategies.
Money is not a rigid tool, it's one that should adapt to your life, Start mapping out the rest of the year and update your finances accordingly, so that you can avoid debt and overspending.
Learn Something New (That Scares You)
What is one area of personal finance that you simply don't know a lot about? For me, investing and financial independence seemed to be diametrically opposed to my situation. My main goal is to get out of debt asap, so for a while I shunned other areas of personal finance. But I realized that I don't want to be debt-free and riddled with the question, “What's next?”. I see that question a lot after people pay off debt and I want to have a plan.
My crazy, but hopeful goal is to pursue financial independence. I realized if I pursued saving and investing with the same fervor I have now, I could reach financial independence instead of work until my 70s. Last month I was able to put $2,000 to debt and savings — a huge accomplishment for me.
What keeps me motivated is knowing that I can invest that money and have it work for me in a big way once I am debt free. I used to be scared about these areas of personal finance. It seemed confusing and not for me. However, one thing I realized is that fear is often way bigger in your head, than it really is. Whenever I've done something that has scared me, everything has turned out fine. The world doesn't end. So push yourself outside of your comfort zone, if you really want to grow.
It can be easy to get into a routine, which can sometimes get you into a rut with your financial life. Experimenting with something different can help shed light on something new and help your finances get fit.
Consider using something like Digit to automatically save or start a Mint.com to finally track all of your expenses. Make your first investment if you haven't started. Read a new personal finance book.
Summertime is a great time to experiment and refine your finances, so that you can be healthy the rest of the year.
How are you planning to get financially fit this summer?