If you’ve been following the #MoneySmartMedics series, you have seen articles on how to get caught up on bills, write your first budget, master the art of budgeting, save for emergencies, plan for the future and even some tips on saving money while on shift. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from readers, and that’s awesome! What I haven’t seen, is anyone saying that they’re actually trying any of the money management strategies that I’ve laid out.
Trust me, I completely understand.
If you’re anything like me, it takes a lot of time and a lot of reading before you actually jump in and try something. For me, it took some time before I really dived in and started getting serious about finances. It’s like looking at myself in the mirror knowing that I need to start working out, but for some reason lacking the drive to actually show up to the gym and do it. We come up with all kinds of reasons to delay these things. We say things like “I’ll start this next month” or “I’ll wait until I get paid again”. I know this because I do it all the time.
Well, let’s make this week different. Let’s jump in and take action! Nothing huge, nothing impossible, just action. I want you to do these 3 money smart tasks THIS WEEK. That’s right, starting TODAY. I don’t care where you are financially, or how much you have in your bank account. These are 3 tasks that anyone can do and they will be a great starting point in your journey to becoming a Money Smart Medic.
Step 1 – Write Down Your Debts
Yes, this can be painful, but it has to be done! Don’t be afraid of the truth. We can’t fix our problem until we know where we stand. So here’s what I want you to do:
- Gather up your bills, credit card statements, loan statements, etc and put them in a stack from smallest to largest. This doesn’t cost anything!
- Write them down on a piece of paper from smallest to largest. I really want you to put this on paper and not just a spreadsheet or Word document. It needs to be in physical form.
- Post that paper on your fridge or somewhere that you’ll see it every day. Every time you pay off a debt, you’re going to cross it out with a big red marker. Trust me, this is really motivating and it’s a good reminder to stay focused on your goals!
If you want, you can download this free “debt snowball” calculator spreadsheet that I found. Unfortunately, the free version only allows you to list 10 debts, but it will give you a date that you will be debt free! If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, then you’ll have to shell out a few bucks. You can try Dave Ramsey’s online debt-snowball tool for free by going to: http://www.daveramsey.com/specials/mytmmo-gazelle-budget/?ictid=hp.myt&income=Choose+an+income
Free debt snowball spreadsheet: http://www.vertex42.com/Calculators/debt-reduction-calculator.html
Step 2 – Budget the Money You Have on Hand
Whether you have $5 or $500 in your account, you can do this step. I want you to create a budget for the money that you currently have in your possession. If you get paid in 2 weeks, write a 2-week budget. If you get paid Friday, write a 5-day budget. I don’t want you to spend another penny unless you have a written plan for it!
Let’s face it, you’re not going to have any more money until you get paid, so why not try telling it where to go? If this is your first time writing a budget, you probably won’t perfect it, but that’s OK! It takes practice.
Now here’s the thing…
I want you to have something left over when you get paid. You need to put SOMETHING away for emergencies, even it’s just one freaking dollar. You have to start somewhere. Find a jar, shoe box, penny bank or savings account and just start putting whatever money you can away. Like I said, it doesn’t matter how small the contribution, just start doing it.
Step 3 – Switch to Cash for One Week
I know, I know, I love my debit card, too. But if what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to change. Take the money you budgeted for food, entertainment and anything that normally requires you to swipe a debit card and put them in separate envelopes. Now, you don’t have to carry all that cash with you. You can leave it at home and just take what you need with you when you leave the house. Try leaving the debit card at home for a day. It won’t kill you!
I’m confident that you will find that you spend a lot less when you put your cash in envelopes and only spend what you have budgeted. It’s a week, people! You can do this!
If you need help with writing your budget, you can use Dave Ramsey’s free budget forms by going to: http://www.daveramsey.com/tools/budget-forms/
You can also download YNAB (You Need A Budget) IF you have the money to spare in your budget. If you head to http://www.medicmadness.com/youneedabudget you will get $6 off your software purchase.
Let Me Know How You’re Doing!
I’m here to help! I want to encourage you every step of the way and be there for you if you need anything. I’m serious! Post pictures of your cash envelopes, tag me in posts, send me e-mails, or just get my attention to let me know that you’re on your way to becoming a Money Smart Medic!
You can do this, I promise.