Imagine your money as a little army. Your dollars are tiny soldiers you are sending out into the world to do battle on behalf of you and your family. One squadron makes sure you have a place to live with all the utilities taken care of. Another makes sure you have transportation. Another handles daycare expenses. 

Your dollar army paves the way for your day-to-day existence to function. The better you deploy your soldiers, the better the result in terms of ease of living.

We’ve talked about a number of ways to make your day-to-day life easier. We’ve extolled the beauty of cleaning services, grocery delivery, meal delivery services, home gyms, etc. Most of these require spending extra money to avoid spending the time and energy on the chores yourself. 

Money gives you options. There are times when it can be very, very helpful to send a bunch of your little dollar soldiers out into the world to take care of a problem for you with a minimal time investment from you.

So, the first step here is roll call. Gather ALL or your day-to-day financial data. For a scrub of your tactical finances, this typically means your bank account statements and your credit card statements. Pull a year’s worth of data. When you sit down to really dive in, you’re going to want everything ready and in one place.

Make a date to sit down with your partner at a coffee shop or lunch joint to work through it all. Build a spreadsheet with your monthly inflow and outflows.   

Are you in the black or the red? If you’re in the red, can you figure out why? If you’re in the black, do you see your accounts growing by that much each month? If not, why?

If you are in the red, there is really only one question – how do you get to black, beyond ASAP. Our suggestion is that instead of trying to cobble together a bunch of little instances of unnecessary spending to eek across the line, you need to figure out one big move that would do the job. 

Next, set target numbers and watch those on a weekly and monthly basis instead of doing regular deep dives.

On the spending side, get familiar with rough numbers that you allocate as your weekly allowance for each spending type. For example, what is your target to spend on groceries each week? Set a number for “fun” spending and bucket all your non-recurrently billed entertainment, eating out, and nonessential shopping like clothing.

Setting weekly numbers helps you because it typically isn’t too difficult for you to remember and mentally add up the handful of times you might spend in a given category. If you go over one week, it isn’t hard to make a mental note to be a bit more restrained next week. 

On the savings side, set a monthly target number that represents how much you’d like to see your checking account grow by each month, which presumes that you’ve stuck by your general spending plan. 

Finally, do a scrub every six months.  Are you hitting your targets?  Done with the appropriate rigor, this should tell you immediately where things are going off the rails.

Remember, getting your tactical finances under control is how you’ll maximize your ability to use your assets to make your day-to-day life easier so you can spend more of your time and energy on the things that matter to you—your own pursuits, your family, and your career.

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