Are You Winning Financially?

It’s no secret that our household income took a hit in the past 6 months. I’ve shared that as I launched Workable Wealth, I transitioned out of my full-time job as Director of Financial Planning with a local San Diego wealth management firm to part-time through the end of 2013 and now, I am contracting in on an as needed basis.

In addition, my husband is transitioning off active duty service this year and into the U.S. Reserves, meaning our income may be in even more fluctuation than with just my job change. Add to that a potential move and home sell / purchase and we’ve got a whole lot of change on the horizon.

Transition is the theme of 2014 for our household and even though we have a lot going on, my goal is to practice what I preach and to continue to make finance FUN in our lives.

That’s why we’re making it a point to celebrate our financial wins this year.

Read on for an overview of the 5 W’s of Financial Wins and how you can implement them in your home:

Who: This is easy. YOU, of course. And your significant other if paired off.

What: A Financial Win occurs when we meet a pre-determined point on a goal. For example, for every $1,500 we add to our net worth (actual savings, not market related), hubby and I allow ourselves $100 to spend on our “Wants” list. This is a way for us to pause, recognize what we’ve accomplished and allow ourselves a small celebration in the name of our progress.

Financial Wins can be unique to your situation – either a percent of goal funded, a certain amount stocked away, an amount of debt paid down, etc. The thing to keep in mind when drafting your wins is to make them something you’re working towards. Don’t go too easy on yourself by saving $200 and spending $100, but don’t be too restrictive either. Decide what works best for you, recognize the delay it may create in reaching your goals and then implement and stick to it. Don’t feel guilty for celebrating your wins if you’re confident that you’re working hard towards your goals. Taking pause to applaud yourself is what keeps us motivated to keep pushing through.

When: Now. Seriously, there’s no better time than today to start celebrating your financial success! We all have things we’re working towards, whether it’s travel, student loan payoff, a home down payment, credit card debt, retirement savings or more. Take ten minutes today to think about the actions you’re already taking in your life to get financially organized. Now, add in a time for you to celebrate your progress intermittently with a small amount, whether it’s $20 for a week’s worth of lattes or $100 for a date night or gift purchase. Do what makes sense for you.

Where: We keep our “Want” list right on our refrigerator in our household. Pale green paper and a purple marker do the trick of making it noticeable if you need assistance with that. Some of the items are $15 and some are $200 or $300. Some have been purchased and are crossed out and some are waiting until it’s their turn.

Why: I’m a financial planner. I recognize that if we kept stocking away as much money as possible, we’ll meet our goals at a faster rate. However, it’s not just about the destination for us. It’s about the journey. The fun for us comes in celebrating along the way. 25%, 50%, 75% goal funding is a time for us to take pause – and $100 if we’d like, and buy something we’ve had on our “wants” list.

Financial Wins are something everyone and anyone can celebrate. The key is to ensure you’re at the point of celebrating a financial win first. Ensure you have a spending plan and SMART goals in place and are tracking your net worth before celebrating wins of any kind. Because let’s be honest, if you don’t have those in place, how can you know if you’re winning?

Note: In case you’re curious, a few executed purchases on our list have been a Winnie the Pooh coffee mug (don’t judge – I wanted it) and golf shoes for the husband. A new Apple TV and Beats by Dre headphones (for me) are up next.

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