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Keeping more dollars in your pocket can be boiled down to following the wise adage of the great philosopher Ice Cube. “Check yourself, before you wreck yourself,” he wisely quipped (maybe in a slightly different vernacular). Although he wasn’t giving a seminar on money management at the time, I’ve found the word ‘check’ to be really important when I strive to win the personal finance game.
Check your blind spots.
Ah, the annoyance of hearing my dad constantly chirp this in my ear as I cruised down Highway 77. But he was right. I can’t see what I can’t see. And it’s true with money. I can’t save money that I don’t have. This is where the true value of a budgeting app comes in. The free options to organize this abound, but for my family they serve as a diagnostic more than a dictation. Did I really spend $30 last month at the Sonic Drive-thru? Do I own a share of Amazon by now with how much money I’ve forked over for their services? These are blind spots and they’re only uncovered when you have an easy and efficient way of tracking expenses.
Check with your mom.
Another great line by my dad. This still works with just about anything, money included. Literally, ask your mom. Someone who has been down the road 30 or 40 years probably has some good perspective on how to win the war with your wallet.
I have a ‘mate’ for just about everything that costs money. Here’s what I mean – I’m not a coupon cutter, but I have somebody that I check in with to see if there are some ways I can save a little cash. I may not go all in and sit on the driveway at 6 a.m. on Thursdays like Ray does, but I can pick up a couple good habits from him that are reasonable for my situation. For every part of my budget, I like to have a mate.
- For utilities and bills, I got Chuck. Is Nest worth it for me? Is it ok for my wife to set the thermostat at 82 degrees? I’ll ask Chuck.
- For investment advice, I call up Jack.
- Groceries? Amy’s got my back.
- Baby stuff? Thank you, Ryan and Angie. P.S. I promise I’m not nice to you just because you have the same gender children as us, but only one year older.
- Around the house? Scott gives me the low-down on how to save money for the long haul, even if that means spending money in the short term.
- Taxes and Insurance? I ask Dave whenever I need to make sure I’m not hung out to dry or over-covering myself.
- Cars? Now accepting applications for my mate.
You get the idea – find a mate for every broad category you spend money on (you can use my seven if you need help getting started), let them know that you’re looking to keep some pennies in the pig, and see what they say!
Check the clock.
One of the recent trends I’ve seen in my own life is the busier I get, the more willing I am to shell out cash. Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but it’s something to keep an eye on. During a busy week, I find that I’m more likely to say yes to things like eating out for convenience and less likely to search for a more economical option for common expenses. Checking the clock means carving out some margin in my life so I can actually think about this stuff.
Check your heart.
Periodically, I try to make sure that I’m not obsessing over something that ultimately isn’t going to solve all of my problems. In fact, more money can lead to more problems (I’ll let you guess what famous hip hop philosopher I’m thinking of now). Giving away money is a good check of the heart. It’s a weird paradox that I’ve experienced – I never seem to miss the money I give away and I never seem to regret it either. These are my simple checks to keep the checks from bouncing. What about you? Do you have any additional things to “check” when it comes to your financial life?