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Military Finances 101: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Managing Your Finances

Today's Article is Written By Financial Coach Tonia Peasley


We have all heard the coined saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff."  What does that actually mean though when it comes to our finances.  For most of us, we tend to underestimate how small things can really impact our life.  Finances are a perfect example of this.  We tend to only pay real attention when there is either a big financial windfall; we get a new job or a substantial pay increase or bonus.  What we don't realize is the small things you do every day is what really makes a huge impact on your financial life.

When I work with Financial Coaching clients, I try to talk to them about implementing some small changes that will make a big difference for them over time.  Surprisingly enough, if we try to look at our finances from a "small changes make a big impact" point of view, big changes will happen.   More times than not, if the daily latte splurge is a priority, you can make room for that in your spending plan if you deploy the other small changes mentioned here.

  1.  Impulse shopping is a thing of the past.  Take an extra day or week to think about buying something you might think you "need."  If you make it a habit to add things to your shopping cart on an online website instead of hitting the "buy now" button all the time, you will be surprised at how many times you realize that "I needed it" yesterday item becomes a "I want it" item today.   If you follow the idea that a want is something you need to work into your spending plan, you will see good changes happen.  By waiting one more day or week, you can drastically reduce the amount of money you spend over a week or month.
  2. Know where your disposal income goes.  This seems simple, right.  Unfortunately, most of the time when I ask clients to create a spending plan and list their expenses, we realize later, several things were left out.   I'll ask clients to list expenses over a month time frame.  I do this because most of the time, small expenses like subscriptions, gym memberships, auto-ships, etc. are forgotten about and not added into their expenses.  Make it a point that at least once a month, you look over your expenses and try to find one thing you can either let go of or maybe make a phone call to see if you can reduce the amount being paid.  If you are no longer using the gym as often as you thought you would, find out if you can suspend your membership or cancel it.  Same goes for auto-ships; can they be stretched out to arrive every 6 weeks instead of monthly. 
  3.  Plan it.  That goes for just about everything, especially food.  With all the new ways to shop at the store nowadays, ordering online, pick it up at the curb, have it delivered, there really is no reason you can't make a big change to your meal planning.  The "30 minute" challenge to spend 30 minutes a week thinking about meal planning will make a big impact over time.  Cooking a meal at night and making enough for a lunch the next day, will absolutely make a difference to your spending plan.  Additionally, spend 10-20 minutes at the beginning of the week cutting up fruit and vegetables for the week to snack on.  This will save you time and money, which is something that everyone can use.
  4. Just start.  So many people feel they can't start saving until they get everything else in place or they just don't know where to start.  It really is about getting into the habit of saving that is more important than the amount or place.  Setting up an allotment from your checking to your savings for even a small amount each month will really make a difference over time.  Good habit building is essential for becoming financially healthy and no better time than the present.

If you liked this article, you might enjoy the following blog posts:

Military Finances 101: Protecting Yourself from Scams


Military Finances 101: What is Financial Coaching?


Military Finances 101: 15 Must-Know Financial Terms




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