**This post was originally featured in Black Enterprise Magazine ***
Whether you’re a business professional, entrepreneur or parent, we often forget to set aside time for ourselves—which is also known as ‘me time.’ Many consider personal time a spa day or vacation. But as a financial educator, I find it is very important to focus on YOU and your financial goals.
Finances are often overlooked for the very statement most make: ‘I don’t have time.’ We all have 24 hours a day and a total of 168 hours per week, yet we as a society often complain about not having enough. If we start to break down the 24-hour day, how much time can you take back?
Think about time needed vs. time wanted to put things into perspective. You need time to eat, sleep, work, be a parent, etc., and you may want leisure time for television and other social activities. Let’s take television for example: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, consumers spent an average of 2.77 hours per day watching TV, which calculates to 19.39 hours per week. What if you took advantage of those hours by recording your TV shows to watch at a later date, or maybe rewarding yourself with your favorite show after completing one of your financial goals? I often advise to set time(s) during the month for a “personal inventory day.” This is a day you can get yourself in order — and your financial goals, too.
Listed below are a few ways you can put your personal inventory day to use:
CATEGORIZE SPENDING & REVIEW YOUR BUDGET
Set aside an hour a week to monitor your spending habits to ensure you are sticking to your budget. My trick is setting a weekly calendar reminder to review bank accounts, credit cards and all transactions linked to a budgeting tool. Monitoring your budget and transactions not only allows you to stay on track, but frequent access to these accounts reduces the chance unauthorized transactions will go unnoticed.
MONITOR YOUR CREDIT
Dedicate another 30 minutes a week for your credit report. Pay attention to your credit scores by subscribing to free apps such as Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, where your score is updated weekly. Credit fraud is constantly on the rise. Monitoring your credit allows you to be proactive should your identity be stolen, or inaccuracies are reported by creditors.
CHECK-IN ON YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS
A small time frame, such as an hour a week, is enough for setting and reviewing personal goals. This can also include planning for another income stream. Goal setting should be a habit of all successful people. By setting and accomplishing a goal, you may feel a rush of excitement or encouragement to move forward to bigger and better things on your list. Small steps lead to big rewards.
BONUS: FIND A BETTER DEAL
During your down time, review your expenses and be sure you are getting the best deal for your money. Pay attention to your bills and be sure you are getting the best rates; this includes bills you may think of as fixed expenses such as cell phone, cable, electric, insurance. Many companies run promotions throughout the year, which you may be missing out on if you never realign yourself with a new company. For example, an electric provider may offer airline mileage to sign up for their services. If you are not in a contract, why not switch and take advantage of the offer?
By setting time aside for the above tasks, you will surely be on track to creating better financial habits and achieving your financial goals.
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