Many of us have rules about all sorts of things. You may have rules about your diet: “Eat only one serving of red meat each week.” Or “No caffeine after 6:00 PM.” We remember the rules from when we were in school: “Raise your hand to ask a question.” “No running in the hallways.” Those of us with children probably have LOTS of rules – certainly more than we thought we’d have when we were kids ourselves: “No television until homework is finished.” “No sweets until you’re done with your vegetables.”
Rules are designed to create structure and provide a framework for making decisions. We establish and follow rules because we are confident they will make us healthier, safer, more productive and/or more successful.
Here is a critical question. Have you set rules for how you handle your money?
For most of us the idea of having rules about money, or “money rules,” is probably an entirely new concept. Some people may answer “I have rules, because I have a budget,” and they would be partially right, as budgeting could certainly be described as setting “rules” for how much money you intend to spend. But the idea of “money rules” as I define them, goes far beyond just budgeting, and really establish the guidelines for your entire financial world.
To get started, try answering the following financial questions:
What do you consider acceptable uses for your credit cards? Will you pay your charges in full at the end of every month? How often will you balance your accounts – reconciling with the bank statements? By what date each month will you pay your bills in order to ensure they are always on time? Will you put money into savings/investments accounts every single month? How much? Do you have a vacation fund?
It is also important that you decide how you will handle your money in terms of the other people in your life. Are you willing to loan money to family members? How about friends? Knowing your thoughts about these questions in advance can help keep you from feeling emotional or pressured. This is not to suggest that there will not be a time where you might decide to break one of your rules. But if you do, this will be a well thought out decision.
Rather than being too strict, money rules can be a huge benefit for people in committed relationships. They provide you with a valuable opportunity to avoid many financial conflicts. What amount of money are you each responsible for contributing each month towards your shared expenses? Another example might be working together to decide in advance how much money each individual can spend without joint discussion and agreement.
Are you ready to firmly commit to reaching your financial goals? Take the time to write down a list of non-negotiable money rules you are willing to follow, and immediately take any actions needed to put these rules into place.
The Actors Fund offers a complete financial wellness program, free for everyone in performing arts and entertainment. We invite you to learn more and participate in our series of seminars and workshops, designed to support you in the implementation of a personalized financial plan of action. Learn more about our Financial Wellness Program.