Getting rid of fines with a financial potty chart

Chart your progress like a two year old's potty training!

Chart your progress like a two year old’s potty training!

Since January I have been trying to Get My Financial S*** Together.  I have tried new systems and am still learning what works best for me, but I have have made incredible strides in the last few months.  While I have been reading and watching videos on personal finance, I have found that it is very easy to get overwhelmed with all of the things you “have” to be doing.  So I decided I was going to give myself no more than three challenges each month and work on those.  If you read my post on Moving Away From Autodraft, you know that I found it useful to track some of the things I new were creating problem.  Sometimes just paying attention is all you need to do before making any big changes.

My biggest challenge for the month of August has been to eliminate fines and service fees of all kinds.  Currently my checking account will remove all service fees if I keep an average minimum balance of X amount of dollars.

Here is where the potty chart comes in.  I live by my planner.  It is a habit from high school that has taken over my life in a good way.  I know its a little crazy, but its almost like my security blanket.  I hardly go anywhere without it.  So for my “Fine chart” I just used what I already have.  I check my bank balance every day and look to see what additional payments are set to come out and when.  For everyday that I am safely above the minimum account balance I give myself an immature brightly penned in smilie face.  If I see that I am getting close, I run to my change jar and make sure that I deposit the money before I end up below the minimum.  Yes this is incredibly juvenile, but it works when you are an adult for the same reason it works when you are a kid.  It is a visual representation of progress and everyone likes to see the results of their hard work.

My trusty planner.  Sorry I can't show you the calendar view full of smilies but I have too much info on it.

My trusty planner. Sorry I can’t show you the calendar view full of smilies but I have too much info on it.

Now I have applied this to my bank service fees as well as other fines, parking tickets, library fines, etc.  My month has been remarkably full of smilies.  I do have one red X 😦 for a library fine incurred at the end of June, but I refuse to let myself down.  The challenge now is to avoid any more fines for the rest of the month and hope that September will be completely full of smilies.  Or even take it a week at a time.

Give yourself small challenges to take on in all areas of your life.  The more you see you issues (financial or otherwise) as a game, you can challenge yourself to win the game.  Even if you aren’t winning every challenge, a few of them won leaves you better off than you were before.  Its also a great way to learn about yourself.

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