May 14, 2012

30 Day Strategic Plan and a little "take" on JP Morgan

J.P. Morgan made a big mistake recently. You can read about it here. They didn't lose taxpayer money, it was their own but it did beg to ask the question: have they not learned from past mistakes? Then again in business, you have to take some risks, and JP Morgan will continue on to make a lot of money this quarter.  

I'm not much of a risk taker.

In the midst of the financial crisis of 2008 I always separated the investment banks and the regular local community banks. You know the difference - there is the big Wall Street type investment bank and then there is the local mom and pop bank in every community. The mom and pop banks in our community know the faces and names of their customers. 

I bring this up because when we look at a big company like J.P. Morgan, it is easy for us to point the finger at them but many times we need to also point the finger back to us. Are we taking risks with our own finances by purchasing things we can't afford or by not saving money? In our day to day life do we go over budget constantly and never plan ahead? 

Perhaps the problem is that we have taken the "humanity" out of business but we can't do that in our own families. In other words, when I sit down at the table at night I face the people that depend on my husband and I to make wise financial choices. I also look across at my husband and know we have a responsibility to each other to make sure that when we retire, we have enough money to live on. We are a team working towards the same goal.

Today as I am doing laundry I am taking as much time as possible to plan the next 30 days in our household. I am working on menu plans, reviewing seasonal projects that need to be worked on, scheduling housework and sewing projects along with reading the first two chapters in "Home Comforts." I am also setting up a new budget plan to see if there is any way we can reduce our spending and get more money into savings. Anything that can't be done in 30 days will be added to the next 30 day planning session and my goal is that once I have done a 30 day plan that I could spend a little time each week working on a 3 month and 6 month plan for household projects.

Businesses would call it "strategic planning" and in a sense that is what I am doing. I'm just being smart by planning my strategy to do what it takes to run my household in the most economic way I can. 

I want to challenge everyone to make a 30 day plan. Sometimes you think - I don't have anything else I can do to save money but if you come up with a plan on how and when you are going to get the necessary work done to keep your household going, you will be surprised how many financial decisions arise. For example, I have a couple of days over the next few weeks that will be busy days. Those will be the days to plan meals for the crockpot and such. Those will be the days that I will be thankful that I worked ahead of time to have my household organized so that when I am gone, everything will keep running smoothly. Making a plan means no dining out those days because a meal will be either in the freezer to pop in the oven or in the crockpot ready to eat.

Already I have things spinning in my mind of what I need to get done. I have so much junk in my basement and garage now that I need to get this stuff pulled out, thrown out or given away. This requires a plan. What kind of plan? How about a 3 day set aside for this project alone? It means I will need to have help since I can't lift a lot of heavy items. It also means I need to have access to my husband's truck so that I can take the majority of these items to Goodwill and donate them. 

Ah - a plan. I love it. I get distracted easily but if I actually sit down and schedule the next 30 days out and stick to the plan, if only 75% of the time, then it will be a success. Things will arise and I will have to tweak some things and even make some changes, but when 30 days are up I know that I will have accomplished far more than I ever would have if I would have just made it up each day as I went. 

So here is the challenge: set aside some time to plan out the next 30 days of your life. Get everything down on paper or in your computer. Be realistic. Don't for example say that you are going to paint your livingroom in an afternoon. Come on, you can't do that. You and I both know that you have to pick the color, prep the walls, move the furniture, and start the work. Schedule everything with your style of work in mind, that is, do you easily get distracted?  Are you a morning person and that is when you should schedule the bulk of your work?  Do you like to work without taking many breaks or do you like to work for 30 minutes and take a break?  Be sure and schedule some fun time for yourself. That is what sewing and reading does for me. 

Pick a day that you want to begin. Mine is tomorrow May 15th. You could start May 20th or the 21st. It doesn't have to mean that you start on the 1st or the 15th. Just pick a day, get your planning done ahead of time and then work your plan.

May we all be successful in our planning and when we aren't 100% successful, may we not give up and be too hard on ourselves.

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