February Financial Checklist

The first month of the new year is quickly approaching its end – how are you doing with those 2020 goals?

I almost feel like time is moving faster than I can keep up with it.  But, I know that I have just as much time in the day as anybody else.  What I really need to do is develop better time management.

I’ve started to block out my time every day so I make sure I fit everything in.  When I plan it out, it looks really great.  On paper.  I think I totally have enough time to get all this stuff done!

But then, life.  Right?

What I’m finding is, in addition to planning my time, I also need to *guard* my time.  I give so much of my time away and put my own plans last.  Any other moms out there relate?  Mmhmm.

If I want to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself, I have to make them a priority.  Maybe that means getting up an hour earlier, or going to Starbucks instead of staying at home.  My family is so used to me dropping everything to serve them, but my kids are older now and I really need to start serving myself.

It’s not enough to write down what you need to do.  If you have kids, or a job, or kids and a job, you know it’s not all just going to happen naturally.  You have to schedule the tactics that will help you reach your goals, and make sure you guard that time in your calendar like it’s the priority it is.

Because someday, when the kids are gone and the house is empty, you don’t want to regret not working toward your dream life sooner.

To give you a little direction, here are 5 things you can do in February to help you along with your financial goals.


1.  Kickstart (or boost) your emergency fund

Is starting an emergency fund still one of those things you’re going to do *someday*?

If so, make that someday one day in February.  Don’t keep putting it off.  Save up a $1,000 cushion for those unexpected emergencies.

Or else, like Dave Ramsey says, that emergency will turn into a crisis.

Don’t be lulled into apathy just because all of your financial needs are met right now.  If you would have to use a credit card or borrow money for any type of emergency, you are already in trouble.

Make your financial preparedness a priority and start an emergency fund as soon as possible.  Start where you’re at and do what you can, even if it’s just $20 a week.

And if you’ve been building your emergency savings for a while, challenge yourself to increase your contributions to it every month.  That way, you’ll reach your ideal balance faster, while building the self-discipline to delay gratification.


2.  Sell stuff you don’t need

Before you start your spring cleaning and hauling stuff off to Goodwill, see if you can sell any items first.

Go through your closets, cabinets, storage and garage and pull out everything you haven’t worn, used, thought of, or looked at in the past year.

If anything in the pile is important or significant, find a proper place for it.  For everything else, post an ad on Craigslist or a listing on eBay to try to make a little cash.

Even if you don’t think anyone would ever pay a dime for that old lampshade, put it up for sale anyway.  You know the old saying:  one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

If you don’t feel like going through the effort of selling online, plan a yard sale.  Choose a weekend with good weather, make a few signs, and sell off all that stuff that’s been cluttering up your home.

Then, take your earnings and put it in your emergency fund.


3.  Make a debt payoff plan

So you’ve had it with debt.  I totally get it.  I’ve been in some degree of debt myself ever since I was 17.

Maybe you look at your budget and can’t find any extra money to pay it down, so you end up paying the minimum every month.  At that rate, you’ll probably be in debt for the rest of your life.

It’s time to get aggressive.  It’s time to stop all the excuses, and find a way.

You need to make a plan to get out of the debt hole you’re in.  Maybe it’s credit cards, or student loans, or borrowed money that you’re chained to.  Heck, maybe it’s all of them.

Pick one balance and write out a timeline for paying it off.  Throw every spare cent towards that debt.  Generate a little extra income with a part-time job or side gig that you can apply towards it.

Set a goal date for when you want it paid off.  Challenge yourself to pursue every avenue to meet that deadline.  Commit to your plan!

And once that first balance is paid off, focus on the next balance.  Create a timeline, set a goal date, and attack that balance with everything you’ve got.

2020 is your year to crush the burden of debt you’ve been carrying for too long.  Make a plan, and make it happen!


4.  Start using a financial app

If you’ve resisted using technology to help you meet your financial goals, I want to give you a little challenge.

Pick one part of your finances that you would like to see improvement in.  Maybe it’s budgeting, or investing, or saving.

Then, find an app that can support you in this area (you can check out these 14 tools for inspiration).  Download the app to your phone and sign up for an account.

Commit to using the app for 30 days to see how it works for you.  If you don’t like it, just uninstall the app and try something else.

Open yourself up to the resources that are available to help you with your financial goals.  Give yourself time to learn something new, so you can determine whether it’s a good fit or not.

Who knows?  You might wonder how you ever got along without it.


5.  Open a Roth IRA

Dave Ramsey recommends signing up with your company’s 401k and contributing up to the matching percent.  So, if your company will match a maximum of 3%, be sure to have 3% of your check going into it every pay period.  That way, you are getting the most free money possible.  And free is good.  Always take the free.

But if you can give even more, Dave says the best thing to do is put any extra retirement savings into a Roth IRA.  This is because a Roth IRA is funded with money that’s already been taxed.  So, when you start withdrawing after you’re 59-1/2 or older, you’re not taxed on those withdrawals.

If you are putting more in your 401k than what your employer is matching, consider investing any funds over the match into a Roth IRA instead.  This way, you’ll have some income in your retirement years that won’t be reduced by taxes.


Plan Your List

Okay, now you need to start putting yourself first.  Make your goals a priority.

Don’t just write down a list – add it to your calendar.  Assign each item a date, so you don’t just rely on chance to get them done.

Nobody cares more about your life dreams and goals than you, so you have to make them a priority.

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