Monday, October 11, 2010

Frantic Family: Part 4

The last step we took in answering the Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family was to define our Rallying Cry.

The Rallying Cry is a family's current top priority. When a family gives a second of thought to this, it is pretty easy to know what one thing needs the most attention at the time. This Rallying Cry is something that will take between two and six months to tackle. In the book, one family identifies their top priority as getting the husband/father healthy. Another decides to get serious about a house remodel. For Kent and me, we knew ours is to put our finances in order.

Once the Rallying Cry is defined, a family decides what four or five things need to happen to accomplish that priority. We attached a timeline to ours because one step generally feeds into the next. However, if we had decided that our family needed more quality time together, we could make time for each other without deadlines. (Note: The Rallying Cry can focus on a Standard Objective, although it doesn't have to.)

To achieve our Rallying Cry of Putting Finances in Order, we defined the following points:
Update our Books by Oct. 15--this means categorizing all receipts in Quicken and balancing all account statements
Increase our Income by Nov. 1--this step stands on its own, but it was very helpful to have a deadline for it
Establish a Budget by Dec. 1
Create a System for Handling Bills and Mail by Dec. 31--so we don't get overwhelmed and lose track of our financial health again
Clean the Office by 2/28--this long-term deadline may sound silly to you, but the whole thing still sounds daunting to me because we have to Purge All Old Paperwork and Create a Working Filing System

(Another note: If you have a system for mail/bills or filing that works great, I would love your input.)

I have loved having a Rallying Cry. For years I've muddled through with a huge to-do list. The only items that ever get done are the ones with looming deadlines that stress me out. With no deadlines on family finances, home repairs, cleaning, etc., I get very little accomplished on any of those things and I felt guilty about my snail's-pace progress. The Rallying Cry has given me permission to neglect the rest of my deadline-less to-do list (I love hyphens!) and has focused me on the finances. When I have 20 minutes to kill, I don't wander around trying to sort mail and pick up the family room and load the dishwasher and water the roses. I know that time is now dedicated to entering receipts in Quicken. And we are making progress! The Oct. 15 deadline has me a little stressed this week, but I think it will propel me to get our books caught up and ready to serve our financial decisions again. Go finances! Yeah!!


Charlotte said...

I love the purpose driven goals you've made. I think this is something I need to work on, too, although right now our rally cry would be to get moved in 2 months, and we don't need to set anything out, the deadline are already made for us. I would like to do something like this for next year, though.

Jenni said...

Have you heard of We switched over to mint from quicken for many reasons, but since moving over there I've found it much easier to stay on top of our receipts/budgeting. Mint is easy to use and smarter than Quicken - less managing... plus they have an app for Kent's phone!

Mary said...

Charlotte--If you're really interested in this system, I highly recommend getting the book. It explains things better than I can, and it's an easy way for both spouses to get on the same page.

Jenni--Thanks for the tip. I hadn't heard of before, but now I've checked it out. Other than the little jab it took at those of us who are passionate about accounting principles, it looks like a good product. I'll show it to Kent.

Min said...

I have the BEST filing system. I LOVE it, but then again, I LOVE filing. Also, I would highly recommend the book "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. I think it is an excellent book and very helpful. We will definitely have to talk about the L Young Filing system, tickler files and mail. And if you want me to come spend a day doing it for you, I confidentially work for money or food or practically any kind of barter. Also, I have also heard great things about

Mary said...

Min--You're on...when I get to that step, sometime between Christmas and the end of February!