You’ve probably heard the K.I.S.S. acronym before. I’ve heard it spelled out a few different ways over time, but the way I like to use it is Keep It Stupid Simple. Before anyone freaks out, I’m not calling anyone stupid. Were I going to do that, I’d probably have to start with myself depending on the day… and I don’t want to go there. No, it’s simpler than that.
My version is keeping it so simple that it almost seems stupid. And yet, it can have a huge impact on our life. Since this is a blog for the Center for Financial Resources, we’ll talk in terms of maintaining your finances in a healthier manner. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Even little changes can mean big improvements.
So, without any further and more complicating ado, here are ways to improve your financial health that will seem so simple, you’ll be tempted to think they are stupid. (But trust me, they aren’t!)
SPEND CASH – When you swipe a card, you don’t even have to hand it to the checker anymore. You simply make a little swiping motion and put it back in your wallet. It’s almost like you got it for free. But use cash that you have to hand over and not get back and it will reinforce the concept that your purchases really are costing you.
TRACK IT – Keep track of what you actually spend and then add it all up for the total of what you really spent. More simple – use a calculator. Stupid simple – use a free app like Mint.com that will automatically track your expenses for you (as long as they aren’t cash, but you can manually enter the cash purchases yourself). It can even automatically categorize your expenses for you.
DON’T CLOSE IT – So you finally get that credit card paid off to help your credit score. The stupid simple part is to not do anything after that. That’s right. Don’t close the account. Just leave it be. Don’t do anything with it. By taking the extra effort of closing the account, you are reducing your available credit, which increases your usage ratio, thereby decreasing your credit score. Get lazy and just ignore the account for months at a time once you get it paid off.
PARK IT – Most likely there are these places near you that you will have access to. There is a fair amount of open space, perhaps equipment to use, and maybe even some programming to entertain you. That’s right; it’s your friendly city park. You don’t have to travel great distances and spend a lot of money to be entertained. Go to the park, throw down a blanket, and crack open a good book (or whatever else you might find entertaining at a park). Also, you are more likely to be more active and therefore healthier and therefore spend less on health care. BOOM! It’s a financial double whammy.
JUST ASK ME – Well, find an accountability buddy to do that for you. This is a person that will check in on you every week or so. They don’t even need to know the amounts and other nitty gritty details of your budget. Just knowing they are going to ask how your budget is going will help you stick to it. When they ask you about it, you also get to ask them how their budget is going. DOUBLE BOOM! It’s financial health for everyone!
SAVE LAZY – It’s almost October. Christmas is coming. Need to save a couple hundred dollars a month between now and then for your shopping? Had you started in January you would have only had to put $50 a month away to come up with the same amount. Start earlier and you don’t have to work nearly as hard each month at saving.
FREEZE IT – Bad at managing that credit card use? Freeze it. Literally. Take your credit card, put it in a bowl of water, and put it in the freezer. Then leave it there. You can have it for emergencies, but if you are tempted to use it for those impulsive purchases, you have to sit there and watch it thaw, which gives you a chance to think about your impending purchase and decide if it really is a good idea. It’s so simple, you just have to run the water. Then, let the freezer do the work of freezing.
DON’T READ – I’m not advocating anyone not learn to read. Knowing how to read is pretty important. Knowing what to read and what not to read is also pretty important. Why do companies spend so much money printing advertisements to stick in the Sunday paper? To convince you to buy shtuff you weren’t going to buy in the first place. Problem for you? It’s simple – don’t read the ads. You won’t be tempted into their corporate trickery.
JUST PICK ONE – There are a lot of simple ideas here, and I could come up with a whole lot more if I wanted to. But the idea here is to keep it stupid simple. So my last stupid simple suggestion for this list is to just pick one idea from the list. Just find the one that is an issue for you and fix that one and only item. When you have it under control and realize the impact it has probably had on your finances, pick just one more and work on that. We’re talking baby steps here.
Perhaps this list has reached you just a little too late and you are already in more than simple deep. That’s ok, it doesn’t really have to get much more complicated. Start by simply making a call. Seven little digits on the phone and a short conversation can get you an appointment with one of the counselors at the Center for Financial Resources. I’ll make it even simpler than clicking on a link and give you the number right here and now – 605-330-2700. It may take a little work to straighten things out, but the counselors will try to make it as simple as possible for you.
It’s not rocket science – just Keep It Stupid Simple!
written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net