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Why February is the Most Important Month for Your Finances (it’s not about RRSP Season)

If your finances were to deliver a February 1st Update, what would they say?

Would they claim one of the following?

    • You made the $250 payment on your Mastercard balance that you’d intended to make.
    • You created a Conscious Spending Plan and you’re sticking to it.
    • You automated $40 to your Planned Spending account every month.
    • You created a weekly Money Ritual to review your finances.
    • You redirected a portion of the dollars you normally spend on meals out to your TFSA.

Or would your finances tell a different, less satisfying story?

It turns out that answering this question, this month, will make a big difference to your results in December.

Here’s why.

January gets all the attention

Nobody ever talks about February for their finances beyond talking about RRSPs (in Canada anyway).

It’s like the forgotten middle child of the calendar.

January is the media darling, isn’t it?

It gets all the hype around the new year and the promise of a fresh start.

Sure, no one looks forward to the sun setting before you have your afternoon coffee, and a thermostat in freefall. 🥶

And yet, there’s so much to look forward to.

Your financial goals get a refresh and a polish, or a complete overhaul. You swear things are going to be different this year. 🎯

Off you go into the month with new goals and fresh resolve.

The good news, you think to yourself, is that you have a heap of time to get it all done.

One month down

Then just like that, January is gone.

Here’s the sexy thing about February: It provides you with a golden opportunity. 🌟

That opportunity is one that few people take advantage of, which can cost them a fortune in frustration and missed opportunities.

The golden opportunity is your chance to hit the pause button and review the results of the first thirty-one days of the year.

In just a sec, I’ll share the simple questions to ask yourself in February to make sure you’re on track to hit your money goals this year.

First, a quick story about why the most important part of February is NOT the fact that the RRSP deadline is coming up at the end of the month.

Maci’s story

Years ago, Maci* took the earlier version of my money management course, then called Take Charge of Your Money. She hopped into the coached version to get help with significant financial challenges, which included …

  • $100,000 of credit card debt
  • a practice of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”
  • no real systems in place to deal with the many moving parts

She started the course in early January. After diving into the first module, she set a number of goals for the year and she created a checklist for January.

So far, so good.

When February 1st rolled around, I sent an email out to all my clients, recommending that they pause their tasks and take some time to review their progress in January.

Maci decided to put off the review. She felt that it was more important to look into her investments and get her RRSP contribution in before the deadline. Surely that was more important.

Normally, I’m a big fan of contributing to tax-sheltered accounts and growing your investments, but first you need to know if contributing to your RRSPs is the highest, best use of your money at that time.

It doesn’t always make sense.

A Money Map

The problem for Maci is that she didn’t know where she stood financially. She hadn’t completed her Money Map – a concept I teach in the course.

It’s a visual representation of her financial situation. Think of it as a combination of Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement for your personal finances, except in a visual format.

Creating her Money Map was at the top of her January to-do list. That task didn’t get done because Maci got distracted by other, less important tasks.

We didn’t discover this until the end of February when Maci resurfaced. By then she had used most of her extra dollars to make an RRSP contribution after – and this is importantsuccumbing to an RRSP ad by a bank.

The ad made her feel that if she didn’t make a contribution this year, she’d be missing out on all sorts of great outcomes.

FOMO is a powerful behavioral bias. It makes you do crazy things and the banks know it.

Pay attention to the emails from banks that slide into your inbox and ads that land in your social feeds this month. The banks will milk this bias for all it’s worth to get you to give them your dollars to funnel into their products.

When Maci’s car broke down a short while later, she didn’t have the funds to pay for the repair. Out came the Visa and up went her credit card debt.

It could all have been prevented by doing a Financial Review at the beginning of February.

7 Questions to ask yourself in February

It’s a mighty claim that February is the most important month for your finances, but I stand behind it.

In January, you create a financial path to follow for the year in the form of goals and subtasks.

By February, if you don’t take the time to check in with yourself, you could already be several degrees off course. The further you veer off track, the harder it is to correct.

Without this early review, you may well end up saying, “This year will be different” for the umpteenth year in a row when January 1st rolls around.

You don’t want that.

Here are the questions to keep you on track:

1. What are my goals for the year?

I know, you’re only one month in, but it’s worth reminding yourself of what you said you wanted from the year. There’s no such thing as looking at your goals too often.

Look at them so often you feel they’re imprinted on your eyeballs.


2. What did I say I was going to do in January?

Which steps did you say you were going to complete last month?

If you hadn’t broken down your goals for the year into bite-sized chunks, that’s part of the problem. You won’t know until you answer this question.

If you said you were going to save money, how much money? Be specific.


3. What did I do or complete?

Look for the wins. Any action step you took toward your goals is worth celebrating.

We don’t celebrate our progress often enough, so take a moment to note down all the micro steps and give yourself a high five in the mirror, Mel Robbins style.

Again, be specific. If you paid off debt, write down exactly how much you paid off.

If you put money in your Emergency Fund, list the dollar amount.

“Some” isn’t a unit of measure.


4. What didn’t happen or didn’t get started, and why?

It’s important to not only identify what went wrong, but also figure out the “why” beneath it.

Is it a matter of avoidance? Is fear holding you back?

Or did something happen that you couldn’t control and as a result, you didn’t get as much done as you’d planned?

Get granular here. The goal is to gain understanding, not shame and blame yourself. Remember my motto: No Shame, No Blame, No Judgment.

If you don’t identify the problem, you can’t fix it.


5. What needs to change in February?

If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results. Something needs to change in order to get better results.

This is your opportunity to identify what that is for you.

Once you know what didn’t work, from Question 4, you can determine what would work instead. That’s the change you need to implement in February.


6. What is my first small action step?

Focus on a small step here. Small is doable and powerful. Get it done asap.


7. Is this step in line with my goals for the year?

Sometimes we get distracted into taking action that feels good, but won’t move the financial needle.

Selling your used ski equipment might feel good and it certainly would put a few extra dollars in your pocket, but is that the highest, best use of your time right now? Probably not.

Focus on the priorities for the year first.

Last but not least

Set an electronic reminder in your calendar to do this all over again the first week of every remaining month in the year.

The process of reviewing, reflecting and reconsidering is so important to your success that it needs to be repeated at regular intervals.

Do yourself a big favor and set a calendar date with yourself at the start of every month.

If you’re part of my course community when I launch Your Foundation to Financial Freedom, you’ll have me as your wing-man reminding you to do it.

A wrap up – with chocolate

You know what else February has?

Sales on chocolate on February 15th. 🍫

Load up my friend and let’s celebrate on March 1st when you look back at February and applaud your genius for having made significant progress this month.

All because you took the time to:

Review your progress in January

Identify what worked and didn’t work

Create a doable plan for February

Execute on that plan one small step at a time.

Want more accountability?

Pop into the comments below and let me know two things: 1) what you learned from January; and 2) what you plan to do in February.

I’m here for you, ready to cheer you on! 🎉

*Not her real name

Want a proven process to help you make smart, savvy financial decisions that are in your highest, best interests every time

Grab your copy of my FREE Cheat Sheet. In it, you’ll discover the four key questions to ask yourself, in order, to gain total clarity on the right financial path for you.

This process works for all decisions, big and small. 

Make indecision, second-guessing, and analysis-paralysis a thing of the past.

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