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FEEL LIKE YOUR SPENDING IS OUT OF WHACK? GET IT BACK IN ALIGNMENT WITH THESE SEVEN STEPS.

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Does this sound familiar? You’d really like to save up for retirement, education or your dream house. But somehow, another month has slipped by and you haven’t made much progress toward achieving your goal.

You’re not alone. According to a Pew Charitable Trusts’ survey, 33% of Americans don’t have any savings and 55% either break even or spend more than they make each month.

But don’t get too comfortable knowing you have lots of company. Your goals are too important! Own them with these seven steps.

Step #1. Write down your goals. We all have dreams. And whether they’re short-term or long writing them down can help turn a dream into reality. After you write them down, prioritize them so it’s easier to make saving and spending decisions.

Step #2. Figure out what it would cost to achieve your goals. Depending on where you landed in Step 1, this could be relatively easy. Come up with a lump sum and how much you’d have to save out of each paycheck, for what period of time, to make your goals happen.

Step #3. Fill out Summit’s Daily Expense Worksheet (Find it here) for one month. This is where you’ll start to match up “What do I care about?” with “Am I working to make my goals a reality?” Don’t just capture the big-ticket items like groceries or utility bills. Write down every single thing you spend money on (including those $4 lattes, parking, the kids’ bus and lunch money, etc.). 

Step #4. Take a deep breath and tally up your spending by category. Prepare to be surprised, but don’t beat yourself up. This is your past spending and you’ve got to get a handle on it before you can make a change.

Step #5. Compare your spending to your goals. Is your spending helping you to achieve your goals or stopping you? What’s driving your choices? What could help you to change?

Step #6. Shift your spending. You’ve listed and prioritized your goals, gotten a handle on your spending and pinpointed the roadblocks to your savings goals. Now it’s up to you to do the day-to-day work of shifting your spending so it reflects what you’d like to accomplish. It won’t be easy—but it will be worth it!

Step #7. After two months, repeat Step #3.  How are you doing? Don’t assume things are humming along nicely—find out! Track your daily spending again and see if you’ve actually been able to shift your spending to align with your goals.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to get back in alignment. You didn’t get out of whack overnight and it will take some time to get back in.

But we know you can do it!