Have you ever found the one system or strategy that just works for you? Has a profound impact immediately? Something that just fits? In recent years, I’ve found that time-blocking has been my strategy that “just fits”. Time-blocking is ensuring you BLOCK the things that are most important on your calendar because if it gets scheduled it gets done. If you want to make damn sure that you're improving your financials, then I would highly recommend you time block when you’re going to review them. In episode 3 of The Max Your Dash Podcast, we discussed what to cover in this monthly financial review meeting. The purpose of this blog is to give you the agenda and some brief instructions for this meeting.
- Update transactions from last month
- Review last month's spending vs budgeted
- Update balance sheet
- Review goals and update progress
- Review/create to do's
Update transactions from last month: A great budgeter’s most important trait is being highly aware of their spending data. They know exactly how much they spent last month on groceries, gas, fun, etc. Therefore, the first agenda item is to make certain that you review last month's transactions and properly categorize them. As some of you may know, eMoney (our financial planning software) allows our clients to effortlessly track these monthly transactions. If you are looking for other useful platforms, I recommend using Mint or Personal Capital. Most credit card apps and online banking apps can help you get this data as well.
Updating your transactions every month cannot be overemphasized. Imagine you take the time to do this every month for the rest of 2021. Think how your goals will progress entering 2022! How powerful will it be for you to analyze exactly where every dollar went in 2021?
Review last month's actual spending vs budgeted: Now that you have categorized all last month's transactions, it’s time to compare your actual spending vs your budgeted. What areas of your budget did you execute well and what areas need work? What was your overall spending vs what you budgeted for? Do NOT judge or guilt yourself to death here. Embrace where you fell short and move onto the next step. Your mindset here is critical because if you guilt and shame yourself, you will eventually give up on the process. Quitters never win!
Update Balance Sheet: Okay, now we have the budget updated and it’s time to update your balance sheet. If you are using our platform, this is being done for you automatically, but you might want to make sure all your connections are updated and refreshed. If you are not using our tool, then update all your asset values and liabilities and determine your net worth. Microsoft excel has some great free templates to assist with this task. I’m sure there are plenty of sound options you can find by simply googling "personal balance sheet". Keep track of this every month so you can measure your progress over time!
Review goals and update progress: Now you that you have a clear snapshot of your current budget and net worth, the next step is to review your financial goals that you have set for yourself and measure your progress. Ask yourself the following questions, if I continue doing what I am doing, will I achieve my goals? Are there changes I need to make to achieve my goals? What are they?
To Do List: As you’ve been going through this process, you’ve been creating tasks along the way. The last step in the agenda is to ensure you capture those tasks and assign them the someone. It is also important to review last month’s to dos and make sure you are getting things done! It’s important that you have a system for keeping track of these so that you don’t forget about them. My wife and I use the task capability in eMoney but there are plenty of other ways you can do this. Just make sure you review what you said you wanted to do last month and capture the new tasks for the month ahead!
On a final note, I want to emphasize that time blocking is the secret sauce here. Put this meeting on your calendar and make it a reoccurring meeting every month. My wife and I try to keep it fun by making it a date night on the first Wednesday of each month. We have some nice wine, cook a nice meal together, and then go through the agenda! Remember: Don’t judge yourselves to death, find the small changes you can make that will have a significant impact on your finances and never give up! It's a marathon, not a sprint!
Max your dash friends,