I tell all my clients that regular financial practise is the key to success.
… it sounds good right?
And I believe it too! But that didn’t stop me from barely opening my budgets or bank accounts this summer.
I paid my bills, but mostly I ignored things.
Does that make me a hypocrite? Probably… but I’m not too worried about it. I’ll be the first one to say to any client that this kind of thing happens. You go through periods of discipline, and then slip into parts of your life when you have other priorities.
The tricky thing is getting back on track.
Why are good habits so hard to form, but bad habits seem to entrench themselves in a matter of minutes?
I go the gym every day for a week, and it’s still hard to go the next week.
I eat a donut two days in a row… and all of a sudden my body is sending me signals that it can’t live without it’s daily boston creme.
Heading into September, I knew I was out of shape (and not because of the donut thing).
I wasn’t used to setting aside regular time to budget, sort through financial priorities, or any of the other things that I knew would set me up for success.
But getting back in shape can seem like a bit of a nightmare.
The immense power of collective shame
I guess collective shame is a pretty glass half empty way to describe accountability.
But that’s what I turned to.
I asked a few clients, and some other R2R subscribers to join me in daily text checkins after we had done a daily financial practise.
There were no rules as to what had to be done, just that we take the time to sit and do something financial.
And it worked. We all had a few days where we forgot (well, at least I did), but mainly we spent at least 5 minutes every day.
Yes. Success. But I learned a few interesting things a long the way.
A few thoughts and small lessons from a month of 5 financial minutes…
- In the beginning, it was easy, there were lots of things to do and it felt great to get them off my to-do list
- In week two I started to get bored. I’d sit and refresh my budget and then wonder what else I should be doing.
- In week three I started to realize my brain didn’t get as stressed when it found something financial that I really needed to do. As soon as the thought came up, I knew I would get to it in my next 5 minute session. The problem was that at first I forgot what those things were, but after I started jotting them down in my phone… the system worked quite well.
- I did my financial 5 over coffee, often in the morning. I noticed that if the papers/receipts/cheques weren’t actually right beside where I was sitting… I wouldn’t deal with them. So I moved my inbox close to where I have my coffee.
- The benefit of being really on top of my cashflow wasn’t just that it helped me plan my spending, but it planted longer term financial questions in my sub conscious. It feels as if I’m engaged with some of the big financial questions again, even if I haven’t come up with solutions yet.
It’s been a good month. I’ve learned some things, and the accountability from the group has been huge.
Will I continue to set aside 5 minutes a day?
It’s a good idea… but I know that it’s never that simple.
Only time will tell.
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org