It may be divorce, retirement, job loss, care-giving responsibilities, marriage, chronic or acute illness, disability, or death – or something else. Such events can turn your life upside down, creating stress and dramatic changes in your routines. Even positive transitions (such as marriage or the birth of a child) create stress and demand change.
With all the stresses that you encounter, you need to make sound financial decisions, because these decisions will impact your financial health now and in the future.
- Know what you have and know what you want. It is important to assess your situation’s needs and wants, and to take advantage of all available resources.
- Set up your spending plan. A spending plan is a tool for telling your money where to go. Plan your spending by categories, and write down your spending plan. To decide how much to plan for each category, you will need to look at your spending in the past. Some people can look at the past month, while others will need more than one month’s information to develop their spending plan. Review your spending for each pay period of the last month – the last 4 weeks,if you are paid weekly, or the last two paychecks if you are paid bi-weekly.
- Stay with your plan. Following your plan lets you get the results you want.
- To make your plan work for you, you will need to revise and improve it. It may take a couple of months to get the plan exactly like you want. Remember – you can change your plan. As your situation changes or your family’s needs and wants change, it is logical that your spending plan should change. Revisit your plan annually (or more often).
As your situation changes, the basic process stays the same: Know what you have and what you want; Make a plan; Follow the plan; Review and revise for the future.