changeFeel like you don’t have time to take care of your finances? Part of that might be true, but part of it might just be avoiding the inevitable. At some point you’ve got to stop and look, really take a peek at what’s happening–you can’t run a successful business if you don’t know what’s going on in the books. It seems overwhelming, but you can do it in just five easy steps:

1. Set aside time every week

It’s okay, I understand. Managing your finances can be an unpleasant thing. Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t want to brush your teeth? You would avoid it. You would forget. The only way to make sure that you did it every day was to make it a habit. Each morning and each night it became part of your ritual. Now, I’m not saying that you have to commit to financial self-care twice a day every day, but you have to set aside time each week. You have to make it a habit–you have to put it on your calendar and give yourself an hour.

2. Set clear goals for what you want to accomplish

Why only an hour? You know that you can’t possibly get everything done in an hour. But you can decide what you want to accomplish and set a realistic goal–pay bills, look over time reports, and check invoicing. Some things you’ll do each week but some you’ll only do once a month. For example, at end of month after the books are reconciled, set aside an hour to review your reports.

3. Create a ritual and end with a reward

Try to make working on your finances as pleasant as possible. Here’s a little trick: if you love to hike, schedule your time so that you start with reviewing your finances; and then reward yourself with a little time in the woods. It can be anything though–a piece of your favorite chocolate, a glass of wine–really, anything that helps you associate financial self-care with something that you love. Even I have a hard time making space to practice financial self-care. So what worked for me? Every Saturday morning I make myself a latte, my favorite, and sit down to work for an hour.

4. Don’t focus on failure

So, it didn’t work. You didn’t do it. You feel like a failure. Stop. Breathe. Give yourself a break. If you find that you can’t commit to this, don’t use it as an excuse to put the blindfold on. Find help, that’s why accountants and bookkeepers exist. Hire one.

5. Automate as much as possible

Set up your accounts so that as much as possible is automated. This might require a time investment upfront, but it will save you countless hours down the road. Syncing bookkeeping programs with banking software can be complicated, so make sure someone knowledgeable sets up your books.

If you can commit to these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating financial self-care.

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