You know it’s coming. Without fail, it happens every year in late December and spills over well into January. Call it the Raging River of Resolutions or the Betterment Blitz. Whatever name you use, you surely know the feeling of being bombarded with self-empowerment content and ads for ways to make the upcoming year better than the one before.
We all know what happens next in most cases. Late night talk show hosts have been making jokes about it for decades. We enter the year full of conviction and energy, convinced that THIS is the year we’re going to complete our entire checklist of resolutions!
Then life happens. We get distracted by issues at work, with the family, or because a good new show just started streaming. Those surefire plans made with earnest enthusiasm get pushed to the side for a bit and then just forgotten. We’ve all been there. It’s tough to stick to something when the timeframe is an entire year. That will take too much remembering and determination.
A recent study found that of people making New Year’s resolutions, 53% of those self-promises were financial in nature. Less than half of those money goals actually happened. And it makes sense; many of our financial habits get entrenched when we’re younger and, as a result, can be hard to change. On top of that, there are just so many different facets to making smart choices with our resources. How is a person even supposed to know what to do and when?
The 2×2 System is a new approach to financial wellness designed to break down money mastery into a series of straightforward tasks to check off as the months go by. The name refers to the time management strategy at the heart of the system: setting aside two hours on the calendar two times a month to complete a predetermined financial task.
So how do you make it work for your situation and goals? For the best success using the 2×2 System, set aside a recurring time slot every two weeks. For example, if Sunday midmornings tend to be a slow time for you, consider making that the time your money magic happens every other week.
Alerts or reminders are vital to achieving all you want to with this program. The best tactic for maximizing the system is to set two reminders on either your smartphone or computer for each session. The first is for the off week to remind you of the following week’s task and give you some time to prepare any materials you might need. The other alert is for 30 minutes before your actual 2×2 session starts to allow you to wrap up any other tasks you’re working on and prepare yourself for complete concentration.
A few more pointers before getting started:
- Do whatever you can to make your 2×2 sessions as pleasant as possible. Put on comfy clothes, pour a stimulating beverage, and play music if it helps you stay focused and motivated.
- If you’re married or manage your money jointly with a partner, try to conduct the 2×2 together. It’s a great way to keep the lines of communication open and stay on the same page financially.
- Set up the reminders to recur annually, so you don’t have to enter them all over again next year.
- Make sure to adjust your reminders around any vacation time you have coming up.
- Because the last week of November and the last couple weeks of December tend to have a lot going on, you should avoid scheduling 2×2 sessions during those periods.
- To keep yourself fully organized, add other important deadlines to your reminders, like quarterly income tax payments, property tax installments, and the December 31 deadline for 401(k) contributions.
- Have a little treat lined up for yourself after you finish each session. You’ve put in the work, and you deserve a reward!
Enter reminders for these 2×2 sessions in your calendar now to start seizing control over your money. We’re kicking things off now for your first 2×2 in February and will include new sessions in the months ahead.
As always, you don’t need to go it alone. Your Credit Union is here to bounce your ideas off and provide candid feedback and advice. No question or issue is too small or insignificant. To give you a bit of inspiration take our free Financial Wellness Check (ideally twice a year) to find low hanging ways of earning and saving more. Also use it to avoid financial pitfalls that can cost you dearly.
February 2023 Session 1: Track My Spending
Before you can truly harness the strength of your financial resources, you need to know where the money is going. Whether you prefer filling out a worksheet or entering your numbers into an electronic spreadsheet, getting a handle on how your hard-earned cash is moving around is essential for making the best choices for your future.
Tip: It takes work to write down all your spending or remember to keep every receipt. If you have online access to your accounts and use a debit or credit card for all your purchases for January, you’ve instantly simplified the process of recording your expenditures.
February 2023 Session 2: Set My Savings Goals
Meticulously charting your spending habits is one of the least fun parts of maximizing your money. It just is. So to balance that out, the second 2×2 session for the month is a more pleasurable one. That’s because you get to dream! What do you want to accomplish this year? Got a fabulous vacation in mind? Want to wipe out your credit card debt? Now is the time to make a commitment to your goals.
March Session 1: Complete a Spending and Savings Plan
March Session 2: Do My Taxes