Birmingham bankruptcy attorney Suzanne ShinnWith the New Year in full force, so many of us started out with high and lofty goals only to realize by about January 23rd (or often in my own case January 3rd) that perhaps some more practical “intentions” might be more attainable.

Having grown up with a mom that tried to be sensible, even frugal, concerning finances, often times many challenges we faced financially were not “caused” by any one thing but rather a combination of several things-usually not planned for…..thereby making me learn how to be a “Flyer”….as in “flying by the seat of my pants”….especially concerning finances.

Interestingly enough, in my younger years (which happens to be only a short time ago), I was a distance runner (“was” being the operative word now concerning the physical act of running-since I don’t generally exert myself in bodily exercise more than taking the stairs at work). Nonetheless, I have found over the years that when it comes to finances, being a “Runner” is very important and can have all the benefits that distance runners experience, including, becoming lean and fit financially, becoming a planner in determining your routes, distance and time and lastly but certainly not the least…..experiencing that “runners’ high” upon reaching a certain point.

If you’ve been a “Flyer” there’s no judgment here simply because for the most part, running the financial race is a learning process and there are not many people that can step onto a track and run five miles the first day.

Tips for Becoming a Financial ‘Runner’

  1. With pen & paper, sit down (I like that part) and write down your total average monthly income along with all of your recurring expenses such as rent/mortgage, car payments, utilities, insurance, and other bills that you will have throughout the month. This will give you a good idea of where you need to trim down or if you can bulk up on some bills and pay more than the minimum payment. If you can pay more toward the principle on things like mortgage and car notes, it will allow you to pay less interest in the long run.
  2. Try to pay your bills once or twice a month if possible. Over the years I have noticed that the people that get paid once a month tend to budget better than those that get paid weekly. So, many years ago, I began what seems to have worked well for the long haul and that is to try and pay most of my bills at the first of the month and then I have a better idea of what I have left for the remainder of the month. (Some people pay bills immediately when they receive them, but us “Flyers” may not have any left then for the little things that pop up such as car repairs, tires-your car always needs two or four tires, not just one-sick days, school supplies, and the list goes on.
  3. Did I mention earlier that life is a smidge unpredictable? If you’re a “Flyer”, you may not have checked the weather, and storms pop up that you didn’t plan on. By the way, this might be a good place to mention that “No one ever plans to fail but often times people fail to plan.” A distance “Runner” financially knows that you have to plan for storms, bad weather, rough terrain and the like. No planning can cause a crash or you might end up in a ditch!
  4. Realize that the “leanness” comes after you have been a “Runner” for a while-not on day three! Flying by the seat of your pants doesn’t necessarily require use of muscles (except where you usually land-on your seat!) “Runners” are disciplined and have to be. They may not eat lunch out every weekday, or stop for expensive coffee, or have the latest flat screen/big screen T.V. (or cell phone for that matter) or computer/laptop.
  5. “Runners” realize that endurance is the key element in finishing-it’s not absolutely about finishing first. It’s really more about “pacing” yourself. If you sprint at the beginning, you may not have enough energy to run the distance. Don’t get discouraged the first time you make the attempt in getting financially lean. Pacing yourself allows you to begin to realize that even if you were only able to save $5.00 the first month, if you stay the course, keep saving $5.00 every month, by the end of the year that $5.00 will now be $60.00. And that’s $60.00 you didn’t have to start with!
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