This week we ran a mini workshop for West Lothian Women in Business with Helen of HM Coaching. One of the topics of discussion was getting into good money habits for keeping on top of your finances. Throughout my life I have realised the importance of habits. Just after I got married 14 years ago I was fed up with my weight. I had always been a healthy size but my weight had gone up to a a few dress sizes and I felt uncomfortable in my skin. When my clothes started getting tight again I decided enough was enough. So, I did lots of research on diets, exercise and the best way to shed some pounds. This was around the time that the Atkins diet was really popular. The side effects sounded awful.
After much reading I came the simple conclusion that it was just a matter of expending more energy than I was consuming. Basically, to lose 1 pound you need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500. Divide that by 7 days, so that’s 500 calories per day. I broke that down into 30 minutes of exercise and not eating a bag of crisps. Easy peasy. So, that was my routine. Every day. And the weight came off slowly but surely. The habit has stayed. I still exercise regularly, watch my calorie intake and I’m happy with my weight.
Fast forward a decade and I was in a situation of having given up a rather good salary for the insecurity of running my own business. It had been many years since I had to budget. For the past decade or so I had not had to think about money as I earnt a fantastic salary. If I wanted to go on holiday, buy a new sofa or a new bike I could pretty much pay cash for it. But then I become a Mum, had a year off work, went back part time and then quit my job. The first year in business I had a bit put away in savings and new roughly how much I needed to cover my living expenses. But what I was bad at was shining up to bright and shiny objects for my business and putting them onto my credit card. Then the statements came in and I was shocked at how big the balances were. Right time to change habits.
After much reading and research again, I started tracking my money daily. It has been a life saver for me. Every day I write down money received in on Denise Duffield Thomas’s daily tracker. This is on my wall so I can visually see how I am doing against my target. I also keep a simple spreadsheet. On there I enter my income. I also keep a note of bills that need to be paid, an estimate of taxes (VAT, PAYE and Corporation tax), my salary and how much is left over to pay a bonus. It’s the daily habit that works for me. If I don’t do it every work day it gets forgotten. Now I just need to work on my daily chocolate and Facebook habit!