For most Brazilians, keeping the finances organized is a difficult task. One way to improve this routine is to take a financial day .
What is a financial day?
Do you know how you take a day off to clean the house? Or, when you get sick, do you sometimes take a little time to rest? The financial day is more or less that, only for your finances.
This idea is defended by Dr. Wendy De La Rosa , PhD from Stanford University in consumer behavior and founder of the Common Cents Lab – a research center in the United States focused on helping low-income people make better financial decisions.
For Dr. De La Rosa, this is a day that you should set aside to organize your life: open bills, monthly or weekly expenses, debts, etc.
And it’s important to do this with time and without pressure. After all, you need time to do things like catch up on your bills or call the bank to ask for tax exemptions, for example.
The amount of work I already do is great, will it still consume my rest time?”
That’s the crux of the problem. Most people even understand the importance of controlling their finances, but they can’t put it as an obligation in their daily lives – and, with that, turn the idea into action.
The same SPC Brazil survey says that, among people who do not take care of their budget, some of the main reasons cited are that “this task takes work”, that There are no guarantees that they will receive payments for the month. Even looking at the financial situation, knowing that it is bad, causes pain.
But facing this problem head-on is the first step to improve.
The average income of Brazilians in 2020 was R$1,380, according to the IBGE – an amount well below what is necessary to live, barely covering basic needs. And taking a financial day to organize your accounts is not going to solve something of this magnitude.
But it can help you understand priorities when you need to make choices – even if the choice is which account to default.
How to make a financial day?
The first step is to schedule a day and commit to it. Think that this is a task you need to do, and you should only put it off if it is really necessary.
If you skip the cleaning day, the house will remain dirty and will have to be cleaned sooner or later, right? The same spirit applies here.
These are some of the main items that can be resolved on this financial day.
1. Look at your fixed expenses
Spend a lot of time looking at your regular bills: the rent or mortgage installment, the condominium, the house bills, the market, your cell phone plan, everyday transportation, cable TV or streaming bills…
Keep recording all this in a spreadsheet (or in a notebook, if you find it easier), along with the amounts you spend today on each item.
2. Organize the month’s expenses and match the income
With the expenses mapped, it is easier to understand the real financial situation of the month. If your income can cover everything, perfect: take the opportunity to pay all the bills that have already arrived.
If, on the other hand, the account doesn’t close, it’s time to prioritize . Do you have something that can be cut or shortened? If yes, cancel now. If not, or if expenses are still greater than income, you may not be able to pay it all.
Failing to pay a bill is never ideal, but if there’s no way, you should prioritize paying those that have higher interest and late fees . This information must always appear in the billet or other newsletter.
Also understand what your rights are. Electric bills , for example, have lower rates depending on your income and certain limits on when the energy can be cut or not. It is important to know this when making your choices.
It is also not worth risking those expenses that may be directly linked to your source of income, such as the internet, for example, if you work online.
3. Can’t afford an installment? Try to pay a smaller amount
Can’t cover the entire amount of a monthly instalment? If there is a possibility, try to pay at least part of it. It’s not ideal, but at least it makes interest rates go down for the next month.
If you do this every time you have a little money left over, the debt goes down – or at least it doesn’t snowball.
4. Call the bank
Many banks and financial institutions will discreetly charge your invoice and statement. The financial day is an opportunity to examine your account and find out if that’s your case.
If you find a charge that doesn’t make sense (such as a maintenance fee , for example), call the institution to negotiate the waiver. And, if the company refuses, it’s the opportunity to take your account to a bank without unfair fees .
5. Unsubscribe services, newsletters and groups
You know that store you gave your e-mail to once and now you’re always getting a promotion message? Or that sales group where you always have something to buy?
Your financial day is also a good time to do this cleaning. Unsubscribe your email, leave groups and block unwanted numbers. This will help you not to fall into impulse purchases or take advantage of offers you didn’t even need.
6. Set a goal to save
Again: not everyone can make the money. But if you can do that and don’t have a goal yet , this is the time to set it.
See the difference between your income and your expenses and determine a possible number to save each month.
Don’t let this amount be separated at the end of the month with what’s left over: treat it as if it were an account too, an obligation that must be fulfilled at the beginning of each month .
7. Focus on spending that brings you happiness
The financial day doesn’t just have to be about organizing and saving: doing things that make you happier is also important. It could be a movie service you watch with the family or a special dinner each week, for example.
This day is also to ensure that you are leaving money aside for these treats. After all, if you are going to cut everything that brings you happiness, it will be impossible to maintain a healthy routine with your finances.
And finally… Schedule the next financial day . It doesn’t have to be next week or the next – but don’t let much more than a month pass.