Habits are powerful. In fact, I’d argue that they are one of the most powerful influence in our lives.
A new year always brings talk of new habits, resolutions, words, goals. I think all of those things are great and I plan to do some planning of my own. I usually give myself the month of January to reflect and plan, though, since the holidays tend to be full of activity and wrapping up, literally and figuratively.
One common goal for people (including me) is to get control of finances. Mark and I are better at managing our money and saving than we used to be but we could do better.
This becomes even more difficult as the children get older and we find ourselves spending in response to some need, want or activity that we’ve committed to. Somewhat related to our family finances, it’s also important to us that the kids appreciate the value of everything. Not only material things but the resource of time and the importance of supporting and making sacrifices for others. Being open with them about how much things cost (especially things they ask for or expect) is one piece of that puzzle.
If Mark and I don’t know exactly how much things cost (especially when we fail to plan properly), it’s nearly impossible to expect the kids to have an appreciation for it.
Today I decided to keep better track of our expenses. I think this will be a great way to raise the kids’ awareness of where the money goes and how much things really cost. They have a general appreciation for it but not an acute awareness of it. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told the boys to turn off their bedroom light in the past 2 weeks).
January 1st is a great day to begin the habit of recording expenditures and putting them into categories (food, clothing, activities, entertainment, utilities, gas, etc.). I know it will be an eye-opener for all of us. I also think it will help us make better choices about our expenses and plan better, too. I don’t plan to judge or analyze, I really just want us all to see where the money is spent.
Even if you haven’t decided on your goals, a word for the year or made resolutions (most people claim not to do this, but I think it’s all related to starting fresh), you can write down what you spent today, then tomorrow, then the next day. See if this helps you set some goals for the rest of the year.
Happy New Year!