When you set out to get on top of your money and organize your financial life, there is no shortage of methods and solutions that promise big results. It can seem like everywhere you turn – everyone has an opinion about how you should manage your money. Whether the program outlines steps you need to follow or prescribes certain dollar amounts or percentages that you should spend in different categories, it surely promises to fix up your money and get you on the right track. And these systems and solutions on the surface aren’t bad. They give you a place to start, some guidelines, and a base knowledge about personal finances. You may even try one or two of them out, and for a while it seems to be working. But ultimately you find yourself slipping back into old patterns and feeling lost. This doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. The system failed! You just need a system for managing your money that is uniquely you. It’s time to ditch the one-size-fits-all money management system and build your own!
There is No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
These one-size-fits-all systems forget one thing. Personal finance is just that – PERSONAL. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We each have our own challenges and issues when it comes to money. And while we may experience similar things, because we all have our own unique money scripts, our relationships with money and what we need to do to manage it effectively are all different. This uniqueness doesn’t mean you are doomed to never manage your money or reach your goals. It just means that your approach to getting there might look different. Understanding what works for others can be helpful because it gives you different approaches to try and a place to start. But you have to find or create a system that works for you and leave the rest.
Why You Need Your Own System
Having your own system for managing your money gives you a freedom that those one-size-fits-all solutions don’t. When a money management system is made for you, it plays to your strengths while accommodating your weaknesses. If you are organized and love hashing things out on paper, your system can reflect that! Do you often miss deadlines or due dates because you’re busy or your focus is somewhere other than your money? Then a system that uses automation can help you stay on track.
A system that is made for you puts you in the driver’s seat. It lets you set the parameters, the pace, and the priorities. When your priorities are front and center in the plan, it helps you stay focused. People are often more motivated to follow through and stick to a plan if they know WHY they are doing it. With those other plans, you can lose focus and slide back into old habits because the why is often “because someone said so”. Instead, if you create the system with a specific goal or outcome in mind, you’ll find yourself staying the course. Now you know why it’s time to ditch the one-size-fits-all money management systems and build your own…so let’s get started!
Creating Your Own System
It’s important to know that as you create your personal money management system, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Look at what others are saying and doing, take the parts that work for you, and leave the rest. You just want to be sure that you are building a system that works for you! You’ll also want to keep it simple. When we overcomplicate things, we tend to create roadblocks for ourselves. And let’s be honest, life is going to throw us enough roadblocks. So, only make your system as complicated as it absolutely needs to be. Err on the side of simple to start and go from there.
Three Things Your System Needs in Order to Work
In working both in my personal finances and with clients who decide it’s time to ditch the one-size-fits-all money management systems and build their own, I’ve found three things that will help a system work. There are more things you could do, but I’ve found these three make the biggest difference, and remember, we’re keeping it simple.
Align Your System with Your Values
When you are setting goals, whether to crush your debt or save for your dream vacation, and trying to manage your money better in the day to day, your values matter. Having what you value drive your money moves gives you a purpose. It creates a why that you will want to pursue. It’s great to want to manage your money well just to do it. But if you line your money management system up with your values, magic starts to happen. As you work to create your money management system, take some time to identify three to five core values that drive you. Use these values to help you make money decisions. You’ll be amazed at how doing this keeps things in focus. It can help you decide between two courses of action. It can also help you keep on track. Want to learn more about how your values impact your money, take a look at my blog post It’s About Values.
Have a Method for Tracking Your Progress
The next thing you need to do when you ditch the one-size fits all money management systems and build your own is make sure you have a way to track your progress. It’s hard to know where you are and if you’re on track to get where you want to be if you’re not tracking. Creating a reliable system of tracking your money will help. Remember, you want to play to your strengths and keep it simple. Some people LOVE Excel and spreadsheets…others hate them. If you hate them, don’t make it a key piece or your plan. You can track with a pen and paper, with Excel, using your bank app, or using other software or apps. Just be sure to find something you can stick with. If you’re ready to set up a system to track your money, you can learn more about why it’s important and how to do it in my blog post It’s Important to Track Your Progress.
The final element of a successful money management system is flexibility. One of the big issues I have with the one-size-fits-all approaches is that often they are rigid. You have to follow a set structure and do things a certain way. But as we all know, that’s not how life works. Things change fast. Emergencies happen. Things beyond our control call for our time, attention, and money. And sometimes, we just forget a bill or expense. This is where flexibility comes in. Having a cushion built in or simply knowing how you will pivot when you have to can be a game changer. In the long run it can help you realize your goals and stick to the plan.
It can be both intimidating and freeing when you decide to ditch the one-size-fits-all money management systems and build your own. But creating your own system will give you the best chance to be sure it works well for you. It is so important to have a system in place to manage your money. It can help you stay on track and crush your financial goals. And more importantly, it can minimize your financial stress. This will free you up to focus on other areas of your life.
Remember, personal finances are personal. Just because something worked for a friend, your sister, or thousands of strangers, doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you. Don’t over complicate the system that you build. You can pull from other systems that exist and add in your own elements to be sure that it works for you. As you develop your system and implement it, be sure to give yourself grace. You are trying something new. There will be bumps, missteps, and roadblocks. But if you keep trying you will create a system to manage money that is meant for you.
Finally, you don’t have to do it alone. There are countless resources that you can look at to find pieces that make up your ideal money system. If you want help designing and implementing a money management system made for you, I can help. I’ve been helping clients design their perfect money management systems for over three years. Click here to set up a free 30-minute clarity call to see if we are a good fit and how I can help you.