I'm a nerd. I think we've WAY established that. I love lists, and books about finance, and budgets, and Excel spreadsheets.
I don't like math, but that's neither here nor there.
Give me a calculator and I'm good to go.
When I was in college I took a Business class where we learned about the SWOT Analysis....and it ended up probably being one of the most useful things I learned in college (totally worth the $60,000 price tag, for sure....*cough*)
When attacking your debt and cleaning up your financial future, applying a Personal SWOT Analysis to yourself and your situation is SERIOUSLY helpful....and can get you on your way to big-time financial fitness.
SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
When you run a business, it's monumentally helpful to evaluate these 4 items on a regular basis. It keeps the business moving forward.
Think of your family as a business. Applying the SWOT Analysis when you sit down to evaluate your own finances can help you achieve your financial goals and move your family forward.
Here's how I do it:
I love the SWOT Analysis because it starts off on such a positive note. What are your strengths? When it comes to debt repayment, saving, investing, or work....what do you do WELL and what can you continue to do that works?
Do you have a skill that you can monetize and add to your family's income? Do you have a strength for selling items and applying that to debt? Are you the saver in the family? The frugal one? Sit down with a pen and paper and identify you and your spouse's strengths in the situation and then build on those.
For example, my strength is I am self-employed....so the more I work the more money I make. I can apply my skill set to various jobs and make more money for the family as a result.
When we sit down for our budget meetings, I can identify where I can bring in more money through various photography jobs. This is a strength.
Here's where the "Come to Jesus" moment comes in. Where are you not so strong? This requires honesty on your part and on the part of your spouse. You can't fix an issue if you're not willing to own up to it.
My weakness is restaurants. When I'm on the road for work I stop at fast food places FAR too often.
Our weakness together is not sitting down for our budget meetings on a regular basis. Laziness. That's all that is.
By regularly going back and identifying our weaknesses, we can help one another keep them in check.
Here's where a lot of folks believe they are stuck and can never break free. They don't believe they have any opportunities.
We ALL have opportunities to turn things around. Some have more than others, some opportunities are harder to find. Some are painful, but they are opportunities none-the-less.
My job is in photography, and I realized that while we are in Baby Step 2 and paying off debt, I had the opportunity to fill in empty spaces on my calendar with sub-contract wedding work. Is it always "fun"? No....but it pays and it's something I can use as extra to apply towards debt.
My husband has opportunities to work overtime sometimes. We are given opportunities to sell things that we don't need or use....freeing up physical space that was once full of clutter, freeing up mental space, and freeing up funds for debt repayment. Look around your house....where are your "opportunities" for money? You'd be shocked what you can get for stuff you have just lying around taking up space.
Once you refocus your mind to ALWAYS see opportunities to save, make money, or move the needle forward....you start to gain momentum. Always looking for reasons why you CAN'T do something is a sure-fire way to stall ALL momentum. You will remain stuck.
I can come up with 1000 reasons why we can't ever be debt free.
All I need is one reason why we CAN to build on.
I caution you to NOT get too mired down in threats to your plan. This is the "1000 reasons why we can't". However, you have to identify the threats in order to beat them.
Various threats to your plan can include daycare costs (ridiculously expensive and very often unavoidable), huge student loan debt with a job that doesn't quite pay what you thought it would, a shopping addiction you can't quite get a handle on, or unexpected medical issues.
Life HAPPENS. There are always going to be threats to your plan. We've had various things come about that threatened our forward momentum. Namely, my husband losing his job a few years ago and the dumb decisions that followed that "surprise".
Very often, THREATS are things that can be augmented, combated or out-and-out avoided if you think about it hard enough.
Sometimes, you may have to take on a second job. A third job.....just to get the needle moving. Talk to your spouse, own up to an issue you may have with spending, and have them step up and make you accountable. Credit cards are a HUGE threat to your financial fitness. Cut those suckers up and be DONE. Be pro-active with your healthcare. Stop smoking, start an exercise routine, eat well and head-off potential issues before they snowball.
You control your life. Don't allow yourself to become the type of person that bad things are always just "happening to" and that's why you can't get a handle on things. Sometimes that means pulling off a really stuck-on band-aid....and that freaking hurts....but the end result is so worth it.
You have to be super intentional about every move if any debt-repayment/financial fitness plan is ever going to work. That means you're always thinking in terms of the plan.
Whenever we "go rogue", we always regret it in the end. Even if spending was fun.....even if we enjoyed the spoils of our wayward behavior....we know now the long-lasting affects of bad decisions.
Performing regular personal SWOT analysis on our behavior and our plan, thinking of our family as a corporation, helps us remain intentional, beholden to the plan, and accountable.
Try it! You may not think it's nearly as fun as I think it is (because, like I said, giant nerd here)....but you can't deny how helpful it will be!