My Semi-Annual Financial Checkup

by David Bakke

physicalI have spoken a lot in the past about how much legwork it takes to truly “fix” your finances.  There is a lot of organization involved; there is a lot of analysis (of your finances) involved.  There is a good bit of discipline, but not as much actual sacrifice as you think if done properly.

My biggest point is that if you change your mindset towards the way money comes in and goes out of your life, then you can do a lot of “fixing and forgetting” with your finances.  By that I mean you can analyze a particular area, eliminate the unnecessary spending, and then simply move on.

However, one thing I also wanted to touch on is that you do have to take a step back and review your financial “picture” every so often.  Personally, I try to do it every six months or so.

The reason for this can be described in one word: change.  There is constant change in our lives.  Change in our spending habits (what we spend money on), change in our interests (regarding hobbies and projects) and also, change in the amount of free time that we have in our daily lives-which does affect what we spend our money on.

It is for this reason that about twice a year I put myself through a “financial checkup”.  This involves taking a step back and reviewing how you spend your money on a monthly basis.  I think if I give you a few concrete examples of what I am talking about, then you’ll get a pretty good understanding of the whole process.

This checkup mostly involves looking at your bills.  I think that things like grocery shopping and so forth are simply adjusted on as “as needed” basis.  If your household decides to stop eating red meat, I think you’d have sense enough to stop buying it form the grocery store. If you make a commitment to more fresh vegetables, then obviously, you’re going to buy more of them too.  But you could take a look at things like gym memberships (and any other memberships).  If you’ve stopped going to the gym, why are you still paying for it?

But what about bills?  Let’s take a quick peek.

Cable/Satellite TV:  If you currently have the 300 channel package and two movie channels, ask yourself-do you really need 300 channels?  Also, do you really watch those movie channels?  You might be able to do a little slicing and dicing here.

Cell phones-take a look at your minutes usage.  Can you get on a lower minutes plan?  Better yet, can you possibly switch cell phone providers to save some money?  There are always better deals and programs out there, and it is good to keep up with them.  Personally, I just call my provider every six months or so and come right out and ask them.  It s not like if they have a cheaper plan that you qualify for, that they will call you and tell you about it.

Internet-same premise.  There are always new and cheaper companies and programs that can give you the same coverage for a cheaper rate.  It’s not a bad idea to investigate this every so often.

Gas-the gas industry in our state was de-regulated several years back, which has created tremendous competition. I have saved myself quite few dollars by switching companies, and they usually offer some pretty good incentives for doing so.

In closing, with regard to all of these things it is imperative that you never ever sign a contract with your cell phone provider, or cable or internet for that matter.  You need to keep your freedom in this area.

I go through this process only about twice a year.  Most of it is a mental checklist that I complete to see if there is anything I can eliminate.  There may be some research and phone calls to be made if I decide I am going to switch, but going through this from time to time can keep you as financially sharp and fit as you can possibly be.


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