Step 4: Reflect and evolve
This should be the "easiest" step of a financial makeunder. The real work goes into creating a vision, exfoliating stuff, and identifying intentions. Once your budget, savings plan, and automatic deposits are in place, it's a matter of evaluating your progress. Are you being too strict in some areas or too lax in others? Does your budget need a little tweaking? Can you sock away some extra money to meet your goal early?
How often should you be evaluating? Part of that depends on your timeframe and if you've made dramatic changes. I would also take a closer look at things in the beginning to set a good foundation. Remember, you're setting yourself up for success. Don't set unrealistic expectations. In general, a weekly update and monthly review should suffice.
It's also a good idea to check in on your vision and intentions. As you grow and mature, you might realize that your vision and intentions have also evolved. As Jess says, "The more regularly you reflect on the vision the less you will need to create major changes going forward." For example, when I married John, I felt a shift in priorities. Our finances also merged, so my decisions didn't just affect me anymore. And as you achieve one financial goal, you'll have the confidence to save for something else.
|Tote from dearcolleen on Etsy|
John and I started to think more seriously about down payments back in the summer of 2010. We had already saved a good chunk of change, but really wanted to buckle down if we're going to take advantage of low interest rates and high levels of inventory. I signed up for Mint in August 2010 and created the goal shortly thereafter. It's January 2011 and we're still making changes to our budget. In the beginning it was a matter of watching the money. Now that we have a better grasp of our spending habits, we've implemented some changes (i.e. bringing lunches to work and making coffee at home). After a month or so of the changes, I can then adjust the budget further.
Good luck with your own financial makeunders. Small changes here and there can really add up. And send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Have a great week!