Question: Is there something to gain by looking back on our Christmas past? Is it possible to convert the experiences we just went through, financially, to provide us some valuable lessons that just might transform us to someone that has evolved away from the dictates of our society, to one who takes on a financial maturity that positions us to take control of our finances? I believe it is. However, you gotta be ready to do this not just holiday chatter that melts away as the new year begins and lifeís hooks begin to pull on you. Letís reflect about what happens in December.

First, Spending Pressure. The spin here is obvious. Everyone goes out and spends their money, uses credit, drains their savings on stuff for friends, family, loved ones, and even the cat! Itís what everyone does. So guess what? Youíre included whether you can afford it or not.

Second, "Target Days". Black Friday. Its normal to go stand in line all night to buy a 3,000 inch High Def. TV. This day after Thanksgiving, to most, is the proverbial starterís pistol that launches our spending frenzy through the holidays. How about the day after Christmas sales? A million percent off on a fake rabbit skin purse better hurry! I wish I was kidding.

Third, Accountability. The Day of Atonement. When you add up all the receipts and begin to grasp what youíve spent, what you owe, and just how big a hole youíve dug (or a higher pile) youíve added to you existing debt.

Do you see this? I guess another question does pop up, is this behavior repetitive to you every year, placing you in the impossible position to financially dig out by summer?

Ok, now weíve taken a close snapshot of what just happened to you, again. Now itís time to begin the transformation from the old you to the new you. What might surprise you is we're going to use the same three points that doomed you in the pocketbook, to now lead you "into the light" of sound financial stewardship? Are you ready? Ok, letís go!

First, Spending Pressure. Each week, put pressure on yourself to pay yourself socking a little bit away. By doing this 52 times youíll have learned a valuable lesson knowing how to save and prioritizing your expenditures. See, after youíve paid yourself FIRST, everything else is second. How cool is it to look at your savings, set aside by you, for you, growing each week? Keep the pressure of performance on and youíll be rewarded.

Second, "Target Days". Yep, a specific day each week you set your money aside for you (no one else!). Yep, the day at the end of each month you total up your weekly deposits seeing how much you have saved that month and the sum total year to date. Exciting! You see the growth of your money, which reflects on your self-discipline. It'll be much better than your Black Friday experience, trust me.

Lastly, Accountability. Donít think the days of the week wonít pull on you to backslide and give up this silly exercise of piggy bank behavior. Your old habits and spend-spend-spend mentality will try very hard to invade the new you and drag you back into the financial darkness. Be aware of this. Itís no different than the demons that come after drug addicts, alcoholics, gamblers, and obese people. The devil is always lurking! By knowing this and taking on the armor of accountability, in time youíll slay these dragons and emerge victorious! Accountability is everything. Know this going in.

The key of this entire message is to understand that to do bad or to do good, comes by our actions. Our repetitive behavior in the choices we make is what defines us. I truly hope you see how these 3 simple steps can evolve you into a person of financial strength or keep you in financial misery. Itís up to you how you choose and how you act with your money. Itís a new year in your life, give it a try!

Helping all to find financial comfort.

SOFA Team
America's #1 Financial Literacy Resource