How November Serves as a Financial Touchstone

Usually, I am ahead of the curve whenever I write something for the blog. I try my best to plan out what I write although sometimes a thought just sails through my mind and that’s what happened today at about 5:17 AM. I realized that it’s now November and that makes it the most significant “financial” month of the year and it needs to be recognized as such! It serves as a touchstone in that when it comes to financial planning, you can see whether you’re meeting your 2020 goals as well as start planning for 2021.

It's now November, a month which serves as a touchstone for financial planning. Will you make 2020's goals? Have you started planning 2021?

Ten months down and just two to go before we put 2020 behind us or even in the trash can since it may go down as your worst year so far when it comes to your personal finances. That designation applies unless you lived through the 1929 Great Depression. Oh and congratulations on your 90th birthday if you did.

Ten Down and Two to Go!

It’s almost the end of the year and so far away from when you made all of your new year’s resolutions to do something about your finances. You remember those, don’t you? Pay off your old debts, make more money monthly, don’t borrow more this year, send money to loved ones for schooling, or help out your parents. Maybe it was about you and buying that new iPhone or iPad or just buying anything that catches your fancy. Whether it was to build a consistent income, start a new business, get a promotion at work, or head into a peaceful retirement, exactly how did all that work out for you?

November is the month when you can actually look back at the year and evaluate your financial planning, then use that knowledge to plan for 2021. Normally it’s a piece of cake, but not so much this year. Pandemics tend to change our typical reality, don’t they?

While you may not have met all your money goals for the year, there is still time to make a lasting impact on your new goals so do not give up on the old ones yet!

Managing Your Time to Manage Your Money

You might be surprised to find that one of the biggest obstacles to your financial success is you. Actually, it’s how you manage your time that can help or hinder you. Instead of being depressed about 2020 and all the problems it has brought with it, focus on recovery.

Yes, you may have lost your job or have even been ill or lost a loved one, but if you are still here, then that means you have to move forward. That may be for more than just you, but for your family, too.

If you are involved in any business or organization, to make the best out of the remaining eight weeks of the year so you hit 2021 running, you’ve got to do some of the things that you think will make you most productive and successful. Having ten months of history, even lousy history, helps, so break out the budget book and take a cold, hard look at what was the year that wasn’t!

Pareto’s 80/20 Principle

Pareto’s 80/20 principle is actually pretty simple. It says that the top 20% of what you do produces 80% of your best results (named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who noted the 80/20 connection while at the University of Lausanne in 1896).

So take a moment and list out about ten things that you feel doing or knowing how to do in your financial life gives you the most successes. Write them down. Next identify the top three on the list and focus 80% of your time to do those things. Those will be your priorities for 2021.

It isn’t as difficult as it sounds because you know what these things are, that’s the easy part. The hard part is actually doing them, because doing hard things that make you more successful may not be as much fun as doing easy stuff that accomplishes less or nothing at all. Sometimes it comes down to “how you spend” money rather than how you earn it. It’s a fact that spending can almost always be more fun for you when it’s done without a plan and for stuff you really don’t need.

The Dreaded Budget

I could give you a lexicon of terms that apply to making a good budget and I could also stand on my head when I do, but that won’t make you do it. You are the one that has to decide that a budget plan is essential to recovering from 2020 and becoming more financially successful because you control how and why you spend. The terms are all familiar ones like: wants versus needs, downsizing, saving money regularly for retirement, and pay yourself first… just to name a few.

The beautiful part of it all is that you have a blueprint to look at called 2020 and you can see what you need to do to change and improve. It may not be easy, but it’s not a secret or difficult to find what those things are.

Certainty for Some and Guesses on Others

I already know what some of my expenses will run for next year and you probably do, too. My homeowners association fees are going up $11 a month and my electric bill budget will increase by $5 as well. Since I refinanced my mortgage, I also will pay an extra $75 bucks a month for that (although I knocked seven years off of the term, so big savings for the years 2036-2043 are ahead!).

Jot down what you know for sure and take your best guess at all the rest of your expenses and income for your financial plan. Plan to plan and plan for success, they go together. Get all of this done as soon as possible, because 2021 is just around the corner.

Oh, and one more really important thing. You can always revise your budget, usually every quarter. Because if you are paying attention to it, you will see all of the trends and important issues much more clearly than you would when you are flying without it. Don’t do that please.

Final Thoughts

Since I got up at 5:17 AM to write this, you won’t have to and that’s a good thing. Getting enough sleep may mean you think more clearly and that will probably help you make better budgeting decisions for now and in 2021. November’s here already, so it’s time to pay attention to your financial planning!

What do you know now that will help you plan for 2021? What are your biggest assets in financial planning and what are your biggest fears? Have you ever worked with Pareto’s Principle and what will be your top three priorities when you do?

4 Comments

  1. Louise

    It’s the season to study health insurance plans for 2021, whether for the Affordable Care Act or for Medicare.

    And it’s time to plan where any “savings” will go. If you know you are saving a little each month, increase the contribution to your retirement plan or your automated mortgage payment by that much. If you just leave the savings in with your regular money, you might end up spending it instead of saving it.

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