4 Simple Things You Should Do To Kick Off Each Month
It’s February! Can you believe it? We have already hit the second month of 2019! The older I get, the faster the months fly by. Add in a child, and you’re practically traveling at light speed. I love the beginning of a new month because it’s like hitting a reset button. Anybody agree? It’s a time to look back on the month and dream about the new month ahead (it’s like mini New Year all over again).
Speaking of which, how are things going with your goals for 2019? Did you set goals, or are you just focusing on a word of the year, like me (though I do also have some pretty serious goals for this year)?
Brighton Keller created a post last year, “8 Things To Do at the Beginning of Every Month”. It inspired me to think about the things that I do at the beginning of each month. In doing so, I realized I do the same four things each and every month. Apparently they have become second nature to me. Because this year is about being more intentional, I thought I would write them into a list to bring more attention and focus to these simple, yet profound habits.
A Year of Intention: 4 Things To Do At The Start Of Each Month
Review Your Finances
I do this at the beginning of each month. I log in to my bank accounts (yes, plural), and allocate my finances for the month. It’s important to make sure you account for EVERYTHING! Having a checklist helps me ensure I’ve accounted for all bills, groceries and miscellaneous expenses each month. It also helps me budget for things like savings and big purchases.
Something I think a lot of people forget to set aside money for is miscellaneous and entertainment. We tend to think, “Oh, I don’t need any money for x this month”, so we don’t set money aside. And guess what? We see something we want, or we want to do something with our friends. So what do we do? We rob from Peter to pay Paul. We slap it on a credit card and deal with it later. This is not a strategy I want to adopt for long term financial health. Trust me!
We are getting a better handle on our finances since we implemented this system! Kevin and I also instituted a spending freeze at the start of the year as part of cutting back and being more intentional with our finances. Even though we are in a spending freeze, we STILL allocated each other some money each month to spend on things we want. For me, that may be a yoga class or buying a book, for Kevin it may be a movie. Sometimes I don’t get anything. It really just depends on the month.
The other thing that has helped us not overspend, specifically when it comes to our food budget, is allocating it all upfront. That, and shopping online! Hello, Wal-Mart Pick-up! Wal-Mart Pick-up has been a lifesaver. Especially having a little one. I can order our groceries, pick them up at a convenient time and it keeps me from impulse buying. Thank goodness! If you’re looking for some money saving inspiration you should definitely check out my video, Save $$$ at the Grocery Store.
Organize Your Calendar For The Month
I’m not going to lie, this is my favorite thing I do each month. No joke. I love planning out the month and organizing my personal and our family calendar. At the beginning of each month I sit down with our family calendar that I post on the fridge and write out everything we have going on. This list includes:
School Days / No School Days
MOMS Club Events
Community Events We Want to Attend
Plans with Family or Friends
Trash Day + Recycling Day
Time Off Requests for Kevin
Not all of these are applicable each month. However, I make sure to include anything and everything that would be applicable to all of us. The other thing I do is make sure that our digital calendar matches the posted calendar that lives on the fridge. The great thing about technology is that most of these things already live on the digital calendar, and I’m just transcribing it over to the paper copy.
You may not find the digital and print copy necessary, so do what works for you. I like to have both because if Kevin and I are home and talking about something we have planned, we can easily reference our calendar on the fridge. The digital copy keeps us from making conflicting plans when we are each on our own. This way, if Kevin has a chiropractic appointment, I can see it and not plan anything as a family, or solo for me, during that time.
I’m also a planner nerd and have a physical planner where I write down personal, work and family to-do stuff. I’ve tried digital, and still use digital for some things, but find I do better when I have a physical planner that I can use and brainstorm in. My current favorite is Passion Planner (though I’m working on something exciting that you may see later in the year!). This planner has everything I want a planner to have and more. I imagine it could be overwhelming for some, but you should definitely check it out if you’re in the market for a new planner. It’s my all-time favorite!
Set Personal Goals + Intentions
Speaking of Passion Planner, this is one of the things I think Passion Planner excels at. So not only do you have the space to write monthly goals and to-do lists, you have weekly goals and to-do lists. So that means you have your main monthly goal(s), and then you have the space to break those goals down in to weekly, actionable steps. It’s brilliant!
There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to setting goals:
Shoot for the stars, aim for the moon; and
I fall somewhere in between. I believe you should dream big and have huge goals, but I think you also need to know how to play the long game when it comes to those goals. I know from experience. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve set a huge goal for myself with an unrealistic mental timeline. Each time I failed because I would get overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead, which I could never finish in the time I alloted myself.
So, over the years I have learned to still dream big, but to not get bogged down by the timeline or feeling like I have to have everything done now. Instead, create actionable steps and work on those. Remember, we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade. Play the long game, my love. It’s much better for your sanity and emotional health.
Clean Out Your Fridge
This one may seem silly, but it’s oh-so satisfying to do! At the start of each month, you should take 15 minutes to go through your fridge and freezer. We all bring home leftovers with the best intentions, but forget to eat them. Or, there was that soup you made and planned on freezing, but never got around to it.
While you’re at it, you may as well go through your freezer too! This will give you a chance to see what has been sitting in there for a while and what you might want to think about cooking soon. Again, it's just another clean start to the month, and feels good. Plus, when was the last time you checked the expiration date on any of the condiments in your fridge? It’s probably been awhile. Do yourself a favor, tackle this one and I am CONFIDENT that you’ll feel accomplished and ready to tackle the other three!
There you have it! My 4 Things To Do At The Start Of Each Month to Kill It!. Making this list and continuing to do these things each month help me remain intentional in a subtle way. Life can get overwhelming really quickly, so it really helps to have these planned check-ins with yourself. To make sure you are on track.
P.S - I’d love to hear from you! Do you have a checklist you go through at the beginning of each month? What is on your list? Is there something I should add to mine? Let me know in the comments below!
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