It’s that time of the year. The temperature is getting colder and the days are getting shorter, I mean we literally lose an hour. It can be easy, with all the holiday traditions and even more so this year as we try to settle into some sense of normalcy, that we fall back into bad habits.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that you change your batteries in your smoke alarms every 6 months. This coincides with March/November time changes.
It is also a good time to take a deeper dive into your budget and your personal finances. It is important that we do not ‘fall back’ into bad habits.
Given the current COVID-19 pandemic we are in a unique situation.
One of two situations typically occurs around this time of year.
The first centers around the time change. Many people experience the ‘winter blues.’ This is more commonly known as Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD).
Now not everyone suffers all the symptoms or has this diagnosis directly but there are some connections.
One way people overcome this negative mood is by trying to increase their dopamine levels through activities like impulse buying. You know the feeling you get when you buy something new, whether you use it or not. Feels good, for a time and then that feeling goes away.
Dopamine is known as the pleasure chemical and plays a role in reinforcing your brain’s quest for pleasure. Continually spending feeds that quest for pleasure.
So, what are some things you can do to not ‘fall back’ into bad habits. Here are 3 tips to keep you from falling back into bad habits:
I know the dreaded ‘B’ word. Budgets can be hard. Budgets usually are not perfect. Budgets can feel restricting. These are some of the top reasons I hear as to why someone does not have a budget.
A budget is your foundation upon which everything you are trying to accomplish is built. A budget is your permission to spend, the right way. Without a budget it’s like playing Jenga with your finances. Imagine every time you overspent in a category you pulled out a piece, if you’re not careful your tower will collapse.
This is extremely important if you are trying to do this alone. If you are married, seek out another like minded couple or financial coach to help guide you through this process.
It’s important to get perspective on decisions and to help keep you in check. In this situation, what a financial coach can do is walk with you through some of the tougher decisions. Talk them out and help you rationalize and realize their importance or lack thereof in your budget, and where they fit into your overall long-term goals. They can be thought of as the foreman of this construction project.
Wait! I already have a budget. Isn’t that enough?
A budget is half the battle. The plan is the other half.
The budget then helps give us direction and purpose towards those plans. If the budget is the foundation, then the plan is architectural schematics.
Let’s close out the year with something positive. Let’s START taking things seriously. Let’s START working on a plan. Let’s START to decide to change the ways you have been doing things.
No matter where you are in your process there is no time like now to START.
Joey Ruffalo holds a Certificate in Personal Financial Planning from UCLA and an MBA in Financial Planning from California Lutheran University. Never one to stop learning, Joey is currently pursuing the CFT (Certified Financial Therapist) designation as well as his Doctorate in Business Administration Finance from Liberty University.