How Choosing a Theme for 2013 Can Help You Meet Your Financial Priorities
This year I chose “Celebrate” as my theme word for 2013. There are many blog posts written about why choosing a theme can help you focus your energy and give your dreams and goals a pathway. I began to think about whether my theme would save money. Then I started thinking about my financial priorities and how the two may be connected. Financial management is often about setting priorities. We seem to easily recognize time wasters in our lives, such as getting absorbed in social media for two hours instead of spending 20 minutes on exercise and 20 minutes on menu planning (which still leaves over an hour for online connection ). When it comes to financial management, we do not like to give the same analysis. Somehow we take our financial attention as judgement. However, where we spend our money can be as dear to our hearts as where we spend our time. Here are some suggestions with reflective questions to help you save money with your theme. If you haven’t chosen a theme, don’t worry; you can still ask yourself the questions.
1. Write Down Your Five Financial Priorities
If you want your financial spending to mirror your personal priorities, take a sheet of paper and write your top five financial priorities for 2013. Do you see a theme that connects them? Are they all manageable? Can you let anything go? For example, if your child needs braces this may not be the year for a trip down South. If family health is on your priority list, then saying no to the trip this year becomes easier. You can start a trip account for 2014.
2. Connect Your Financial Priorities to Your Personal Theme for 2013
If you have chosen a theme for 2013, do your top five financial priorities connect to your theme? If not, where is the disconnect? Many times we waste money because we are not focused. We purchase things on sale and join up for new programs without thinking about whether we really need them. If you take a moment and reflect on your financial priorities and your theme for 2013 you can see clearly how and when to spend your money to bring you the most joy. For example, my theme is celebrate and my biggest celebration this year is our wedding so my financial planning and spending focus is our wedding. So, with a focus, it is easier to say no to activities and financial expenditures that don’t match your goal (most of the time!).
3. Connect to Your Home
Your home is where you spend the majority of your time with yourself and the people who matter to you. Therefore, how you decorate it, how you entertain, and your leisure activities are reflected in how you spend your money. It is important to pay attention to preferences. When I visited my friend over the holidays she had made a wonderful meal for us. What was more interesting to me was that her whole dining room was decorated in red, white and silver. After the holidays, she continued with this theme. She told me where she had found the various tablemats, table decorations and so on. Her theme allowed her to spend her money wisely on what fit her décor. What do you want or need for your home? Can you save up or watch for a sale? How will that expenditure bring you joy?
4. Connect to Your Work
We are interconnected beings. Going out to lunch or to social events with colleagues is part of being employed. However, pay attention to how much money you are spending on lunches, clothes and social events. Are there places you can pull back so you have money for what you really want? Check out Dining Divas Lunch Club for a suggestion on how to save money by sharing lunch preparation.
5. Connect to Your Leisure Time
Imagine it is your son’s 13th birthday and he and his friends want to go to the local hockey game to celebrate. Do you splurge and take everyone as a birthday celebration? Examine your financial priorities. If it fits, do it. Consider your own theme for the year. In my case, it would fit with “celebrate”. Now, if he asks for a movie party, you can easily say no and put the money into your trip fund .
6. Connect to Your Dreams
What do financial priorities have to do with dreams, everything. If your dream is to own a yoga studio, then yoga training is a reasonable expenditure. If your dream is to own your own garage, then taking a course in “Marketing Your Small Business” makes sense. What is a perfect day for you? Take a piece of paper and write out your perfect day. Think about tying your financial expenditures to the dreams of your heart.
7. Connect to Your Relationships
We often spend money on the people who matter most to us or with the people who matter most to us. Children, partners, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, best friends and grandchildren, to name a few. Do you spend money out of love or obligation? So far, we have identified our yearly theme and our financial priorities, do you know who is in your inner circle? Being a natural caretaker and giver I need to watch this. Remember to save some for yourself.
8. Connect to You
One of the best pieces of financial advice I ever received, early on in my working career, was pay yourself first. It takes time to get in the habit. Put 10% of your disposable income in a slush fund. If you do this automatically each pay then you will have money for those unexpected car breakdowns and to spend on a necessary spa day.
9. Connect to Decision Making
We only have a finite amount of energy, time and resources. If we are going to follow whatever theme we choose throughout 2013 this allows us to learn to say no so we can say a 100% yes to what we want to accomplish and reach in our year ahead. If we use my theme of ‘celebrate’ as an illustration then my focus is to have food in the house that celebrates and nourishes a healthy body (so I can look good as a bride). Therefore, it was easier to say “no” to all the 50% off chocolate after the holidays and say “yes” to the reduced gym membership sale.
What is your theme for 2013? How will it help you save money?