Earlier this week Bryan, Heath, and I attended a monthly meeting for the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA) Houston chapter. The chapter puts a lot of effort into attracting well-known industry speakers who cover the gamut of financial planning topics such as investments, insurance, retirement and estate planning. In typical fashion, this week’s speakers did not disappoint, especially Melissa Tosetti, who gave an insightful discussion on cash-flow planning.
Melissa is a Financial Lifestyle Expert who travels all over the country speaking on the importance of day-to-day financial education and strategies for a fiscally balanced lifestyle. She created The Savvy Life Magazine and authored the best-selling book, Living the Savvy Life.
Much of what Melissa focuses on is “spending with purpose.” It’s no secret that our society today values instant gratification. We find ourselves always on the go and constantly in reactionary mode. Sometimes we’re so busy that it’s hard to keep track of what we need to do, let alone why we’re actually doing it. Given the myriad of activities we find ourselves doing day to day – work, soccer practice, grocery shopping, volunteering, family vacations, etc. – it is not hard to see how managing our spending can fall further down the priority list, if show up at all.
Given how hectic our lives can become and the negative impact reactionary spending can have, here are handful of tips to apply on a daily and weekly basis:
• Technology tends to create an emotional distance from our money. While services like auto-pay and other revolving subscriptions can be a great time-saver, we tend to go on auto-pilot and even forget what all we’re paying for at any given time. Melissa told a story about a client she worked with who had not reviewed his credit card statements in several years. Upon reviewing the statements, the client realized he had been billed $200 per month by a personal trainer that he had not seen in over two years, totaling nearly $5,000 in unnecessary charges! The lesson here is to periodically review your bank and credit card statements to make sure you are only paying for the goods and services you actually use.
• When shopping at stores like Target, we often buy things out of impulse that we seldom end up using. Melissa gave a helpful tip: before approaching the checkout line, scan the items in your basket and look for these “stowaways.” Ask yourself if you really need or love these items and if you will truly use them.If not, pull them out of your cart. It will save you a few extra dollars and the frustration of the clutter it will otherwise create.
• Most of us try to cram trips to the grocery store around our other weekly tasks. Melissa suggested scheduling a specific day and time to go the grocery store and making it a permanent, unmovable fixture to your weekly calendar. When made a priority, it becomes less of a burden. She encourages families to plan only three meals per week and, if applicable, to get the kids involved. This way they can’t complain later on about what they are having for dinner! If your local grocery store offers a delivery service, the small fee may be well worth the time saved to make the trip yourself.
These are just a handful of examples Melissa shared for how to eliminate common stresses in our daily lives and to save money along the way. Overall, the importance is making every dollar matter and to truly spend with a purpose.All of us work hard for our money so we owe it to ourselves to get the most out of those efforts. Starting with small steps can lead to larger successes.
Finally, if you’ve never tracked your spending and would like help getting a handle on your cash flow, please give us a call. You may be really surprised by what you find!