May 4, 2015 • Musings
Happy Star Wars Day! May is a month of seasonal celebration, whether we’re celebrating May Day, ancient floral customs, Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla, or even Star Wars puns. It is a month of culminations, with commencements across colleges and universities, and its final weekend marks the official start of the summer season.
Yes, May is a celebratory month. But we shouldn’t let the celebrations wreck havoc on our budgets. The four financial health tips we’ve prepared this month all relate to the excitement of the month. Let’s enjoy the excitement – it has, after all, been quite a long winter – but let’s not forget to prioritize our enjoyment, both in terms of our budgets and our time.
We do want to celebrate this month. The weather is finally enjoyable on an ongoing basis, there is nothing quite like an afternoon bike ride or dining al fresco, and for anyone in the arts or in education, May represents the end of a season or an academic year. And that is indeed cause for celebration. But as we celebrate, let’s remember to celebrate deliberately. Let’s make sure we are celebrating intentionally, not simply for celebration’s sake. As long as you are mindfully indulging with your money (allocated for celebrations in your annual budget), and mindfully indulging with your time (choosing to prioritize time and events you’ll really enjoy), the month really will be one to celebrate. Your May Money Mindfulness To-Do: Make deliberate decisions with your money and your time.
Review Your Credit Report
Each year on my birthday I check my credit score and review my credit report, just to ensure there are no wayward items reported under my name. Such an annual practice is also a great way to track progress, particularly if one of your goals is to boost your credit score for lower interest rates, better financing opportunities, or simply peace of mind. And by checking my credit score on or near my birthday each year, I ensure I’m not pulling it too often. Anecdotally, repeated queries –particularly if you are opening multiple accounts within a relatively short period of time – aren’t great for your overall score. But an occasional look into your own credit is a great financially savvy practice. Your Birthday Month Investment To-Do: Review your credit report.
So we’re four months into 2015, and by this time, you should have enough data so far to see how your actual spending compares to your budget for the year. What is working? What isn’t? What unexpected expenses have you incurred? Might you have any financial windfalls on the horizon? This month is a great time to re-evaluate your budget, especially in light of your May celebrations. Don’t forget to prioritize your UTILS, but still keep your budget in balance. Your May Budget To-Do: Compare actual expenses for the first four months to your budget. What do you need to adjust for the next four months?
Thank a Mentor
We don’t exist in isolation. Thank goodness. What a wonderful time to remember those who have helped us along the way. Take a moment this month to extend a bit of gratitude to someone influential in your arts career. Perhaps it is a teacher, perhaps a collaborator, perhaps someone less obvious. We wouldn’t be who we are without those wonderful people, and this month is a wonderful time to thank them. Your May Assistance To-Do: Reconnect with a mentor and thank him or her.
To recap, there are a few things you can do this month celebrate your success without ruining your budget.
- Compare actual expenses to your budget for the year so far and adjust accordingly.
- Check your credit score and review your credit report.
- Make deliberate decisions about spending your scarce resources this month: Money and time.
- Reconnect with a mentor from your career and thank him or her.
Enjoy May and the celebrations to come. May the forth be with you. And also with your budget.