Becoming an adult happens slowly. For most, the 18th birthday is a small step in a series of many toward independence. Then one day, adulthood hits you like a bag of bricks: there are looming bills, a 401(k) to enroll in, and student loan payments to stick to. Right after college graduation, I started my first full-time job with benefits. I also moved out of my parents’ home for the first time. I’d been somewhat financially independent before, but overnight I had a lot of financial chores added to my plate. Chores like paying rent, choosing how to invest my money, and deciding what credit card to apply for. It was easy to push some of my financial housekeeping to the side, but I found these tasks were always hovering in the back of my mind. Life is stressful enough without wondering right as you’re falling asleep if you paid your credit card bill on time.
I decided the best way to stay on track with my finances—and not make any mistakes—would be to create a money chore chart. It may sound a little juvenile, but now that you don’t have your parents reminding you of important deadlines, you have to find a way to keep yourself on track. I’m going to give you a glimpse at how I created my money chores chart, and why you need one too.
Identifying Weekly Chores
I live or die by my planner, and I find putting pen to paper is more effective than using a digital calendar or app. Like most planners, mine has both monthly and weekly pages. At the beginning of every month, I start by filling out the weekly pages with my most common recurring to-dos. For example, I always pay my credit card weekly. As a freelance writer, my income is inconsistent, so I also check on any outstanding invoices in case I need to follow up with clients. I like to review my debit and credit card statements to make sure every charge seems correct too.
This is also when I assign myself more uncommon tasks for the week. Are my quarterly self-employed taxes due soon? Do I need to finish up enrolling in an IRA I want to open? Whatever is deadline sensitive, I assign it for the week. I prefer to handle these money chores on a Sunday if I can. For tasks that have to happen during business hours, like going to the bank, I assign them to the necessary day.
Of course, your weekly chores may look slightly different, and you may prefer to tackle them during your lunch break or on Friday night so you can relax the rest of the weekend.
Identifying Monthly Chores
Once I’ve fleshed out the smaller weekly tasks, I flip to my month at-a-glance calendar. Generally, this is where I place less time-sensitive chores or money goals for the month. If I want to research new stocks to invest in, that goes on the monthly list. If I know I need to create a better invoicing template (something I need to do this month) then I mark it down on the monthly calendar. I try my best to get to this list by the end of the month, but if I don’t, I will move the leftover assignments to the next month. Either way, by writing them down and having a clear place to review my financial goals and assignments, I don’t forget about them. It doesn’t do me much good if I remember to rollover a 401(k) from a past employer while I’m getting my teeth cleaned.
Some people may have more monthly chores that they like to bang out all at once. While I like to review my credit card statement each week, once a month may do the trick for someone else. You need this routine to work for you if you want to make it stick.
How to Make a Money Chore Chart
As mentioned, I love a good old-fashioned paper planner, but you may be served better by digital calendar reminders or a checklist app on your phone. The key is to first sit down and think carefully about everything you need to do on a recurring basis. Then, prioritize when you should complete it. Once you jot down reminders of when you need to pay the nanny, you can free your brain up to think about bigger financial goals. Perhaps you want to set a meeting with a financial planner—if so, add it to the monthly list. Maybe you and your partner want to finally create a will, but don’t know where to start. If you don’t know when you’ll be able to get to a task that big, you can also set quarterly goals.
I set many quarterly goals for my business that relate to money. For example, this quarter I’m planning on revamping how I track my income and am reevaluating my pricing model. Both those goals made it on my most recent quarterly list. Your money chores can be broad. Anything that takes stress off you and your bank account can make the list. Then go relax with your newfound peace of mind.