While preparing my January newsletter, I reread my Dry January Challenge newsletter from 2022. While this year has brought about some MAJOR changes to ALL our financial lives, the basics of Dry January still apply. Now more than ever!
All of us are likely stuffed - literally and figuratively, from the excesses of the holiday season. We could all likely use a break from those excesses. My pants are tighter, and my energy lower, so I need a boot camp, and my finances do too.
The last fall season of my life was one of the hardest I have had to endure personally, so I neglected many important things, and now I am paying the price. Even financial advisors are humans who fail to take our own advice sometimes, and we must also pay the piper. While my team at Ranch Capital works hard to keep our clients, friends, and family informed about the goings-on in the markets and the macro environment, I tend to focus on the everyday housekeeping items that are boring and painful, like savings and budgets. These topics are just as important as the market information from Brad and Gregg.
Your most powerful wealth-building tool is your income.
Compounding is the 8th wonder of the world.
It matters less what you earn than what you spend and save.
Do not keep up with the Jones’s. The Jones’s are broke.
Make a budget and keep it.
If you don’t and have to dip into your investments to pay bills, you interrupt compounding and growth and only hurt yourselves.
Do not carry consumer debt.
My personal win for this past fall was sticking to my Christmas budget. That was about it, as my youngest has been applying to colleges, so I have had several hundred dollars a month in college application fees and SAT and ACT scores being sent to these colleges. What a racket! My water system in my house had to be replaced, and my septic system pump, and so far, that is it on the repairs, but I tell you all this to let you know that I am walking this journey along with you.
I desperately need a Dry January, so I will participate with you.
THE CHALLENGE: FOR ONE MONTH, BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED. I DARE YOU.
Unsubscribe! If you have been shopping online this year, you probably signed up to receive emails (without realizing it) and are bombarded with daily sales offers, limited-time offers, or free shipping. Honestly, this is even tempting for me, as I am a sucker for a sale. It is my kryptonite. I woke up this morning to no less than five major temptations and found myself scrolling the sales for items I could not live without. I found so many things I want. But the truth is, I found absolutely NOTHING I need. Go through your inbox and unsubscribe from retail emails. Unsubscribing one by one takes a while, and even when I hit unsubscribe, I still sometimes receive emails, but I unsubscribe from almost all retail emails. You can also visit the website unroll.me to entirely unsubscribe from email subscriptions. This is a website that will allow you to unsubscribe from them at the same time. I found this to be more trouble than it was worth, so I manually unsubscribed from each site as the emails rolled in. So far, I have unsubscribed from over 10. It may surprise you to see what you are signed up for. I recommend you create a folder for retail emails to go into so that you do not see emails that are not important; rather, when you do need to buy, you can search it up.
Take inventory. Go through your pantry and freezer and see what you have so that you spend on groceries wisely, and then strive to only buy the necessities for the month. Go through your closet, do the same thing, and do not buy another piece of clothing for the month. Go through your bathroom cabinets and use up the toiletries you have before buying anything new. You may find three tubes of toothpaste. This sounds silly, but it adds up! Commit to only purchasing these items once you have gone through what you already have.
Take your lunch to work every day this month. Do not eat out at restaurants for a month. Skip alcohol on weekdays for a month. This is just a month, so you will survive and be healthier because of it - you will be leaner, and your bank account will be fatter.
Make a budget. Have you made your new year’s resolutions yet? Make this one of them. I know you are sick of hearing this, but you never make too much or too little to have a budget. With costs rising substantially, this is more important than ever.
Set your savings goals. Make that one of your new year’s resolutions. Write them down. Goals that are written down have a much greater chance of being met. Then place the written goals somewhere where you will see them every day.
Practice some scarcity. Do without the luxury for a month. Do not eat or drink excessively, and do not buy expensive foods. Not only will your pants fit better, but your bank account will be flush.
Be honest with yourselves at the end of the month. How did this work for you? Are you better off financially and health-wise now than you were before Dry January? If you are better off and this exercise helped, stay dry all year!