While we settle in with new baby – No Credit Needed will feature a few guest posts from some of my fellow personal finance bloggers. (I’ll also mix in a few posts of my own, as I find the time.) Today’s post comes from Prime Time Money – and it should get you primed and ready for a great summer of personal finance management.
5 Rules of Spring Training (for Your Finances)
It’s spring training time in major league baseball. Time for the players to head south and get ready for a long season of games. In a similar way, we non-pros need to dedicate some time during every season to get our financial lives together. Why not start now? Whether you’re a rookie or an old timer (like NCN), here are the 5 (unofficial) rules of spring training for your finances.
Pitchers and Catchers Report First
The first positions to show up at training camp are the pitchers and catchers. Why? I suspect because it takes longer for them to get their arms ready for the season, and their ability to work together is critical to the team’s success.
When getting serious about managing your finances, whether it’s your first time or just an annual update, it’s best to start with the most important elements. For me that’s been (1)and (2) ensuring proper savings for retirement. These, I’ve found, have been my most important players. So I focus on those first. Determine what the major items are for you and spend your early efforts there.
Regardless of the position, everybody player needs to ease into it. There’s no point in going out full-speed from day one, risking injury and burnout.
The same is true of our finances. Don’t try and tackle every issue tonight, or even this week. That huge amount of credit card debt took a while to build up, so it might just take a while to get rid of. Make yourself a plan of all the things you need to accomplish, whether it’s debt reduction, organizing your files, increased retirement savings, or . Work on them as you find time. Take a long-term approach to meeting these goals. It’s a long season, just make sure you have a plan and you’re headed in the right direction.
Go Somewhere Warm
Major league teams go to either Arizona or Florida for their spring training. I think they call them the “cactus” and “grapefruit” leagues. They take this out-of-town approach so that they have consistent weather and can be away from the distractions of their home town.
For me, I’ve found that I do best with my finances when I take myself out of my normal routine and comfort zone. Read a new and motivating personal finance book. Visit a quality personal finance blog. Go cash-only for a week. Mix things up a bit and see how that changes your perspective and provides motivation for a lasting effort with your finances.
Practice the Fundamentals
The key to hitting a fastball or making the throw to first is not natural talent alone. These players swing the bat several hundred times a day and make the same routine throws over and over again. Repetition of the basics is the backbone of any quality baseball training program.
Likewise, for your finances, practicing the fundamentals over and over will lead you to success. For debt reduction, practice the debt snowball. For short-term savings, try making it . Most importantly, find the little things that are working for you and simply repeat them.
Lastly, another element to spring training in baseball is lots of fun, as evidenced by this recent at-bat by “Yankee” Billy Crystal. Spring training is filled with stunts like this, and the teams do a good job of keeping the atmosphere light and care free.
Personal finance can be a dry and boring topic if you let it be. Make sure you’re having a little fun with it along the way. Do this by focusing on all the enjoyable experiences you will be able to afford once you get things organized. Also, be sure and celebrate the goals you accomplish along the way. Have fun!