Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's Not Easy Keeping Momentum Sometimes

Fall can be a fantastic season... the changing color of leaves on the trees... trips to the country to pick up fresh veggies at the pumpkin field... starting back to school for parents and children. Unfortunately, it can also be an extremely difficult time. The days are getting darker earlier, the rain is coming down, stress is ramping up as the summer lazies become a memory.

Fall is a mixed bag because I find it a great time to get organized and set goals, but my hibernation instincts kick in as well. This week has been difficult to keep to my food budget. It may be due to being housebound with the ick. It definitely has something to do with a lack of menu planning. So how do you insure against a backslide?

First, let me use an example that I saw many years ago from the Cosby Show. Bill Cosby for those who are not aware has a PhD in Education, something that gives him a bit more credibility for family hour solve-it-in-20-minutes shows. The episode in question has Bill and Theo sitting on the bed in Theo's room discussing energy used to be successful in school. Bill's analogy is to picture a jet plane. A tremendous amount of energy is used to take off and land. It takes much less fuel to maintain its traveling altitude.

The same can be said for any endeavor we undertake. More energy is used to research, plan, create, and implement a project than it does to keep a project going. The question then comes up, is it possible to program an auto-pilot for those times that we need to take a coffee break? The answer is yes.
  • Keep track of the menus that you've planned so you can reuse them rather than creating a new one each week. Make about 6-8 and rotate them.
  • Put your savings on autopilot. If you have direct deposit, make sure you have a set amount put into your savings be it emergency, travel, retirement, college fund, etc.
  • Sign up for on-line bill pay. Forget writing out checks and remembering to put them in the mail. Talk to your bank or credit union for more information.
  • Consider DRIPs (Dividend Reinvestment Programs) to make your investments automatic. DRIPs are set up directly with large cap companies where you can invest a set amount each month directly with the company. The amount does not have to equal a full share and you are not charged a brokerage fee. The dividends you would earn off of the investment is then reinvested into the company's stock.
  • Invest regularly in your retirement by signing up with your company's 401k program. If you have a company match, make sure you are maxing out your contribution they will match. This is like getting a raise without having to bother your boss.

Do you have other great ideas? I invite you to share them by posting a comment.

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