In April 2011, the original owner of this site started a 52 Week Prosperity Plan.  In his words, the intent of the plan was to “map out 52 different concepts aimed at improving your life, one for every week of the year. These concepts will challenge the way you think and the way you view the world, those around you, and most importantly, how you view yourself. In the process, you’ll become a more successful, productive, and all-around better person.”  I think this is a fantastic idea. So fantastic, in fact, that I’m bringing it back. Revamped, Jana style.
New and improved
The original prosperity plan began with working on inner skills: forgetting your weakness, not making excuses, kindness.  While it’s important to focus on these, for the newly revised plan, we’re going to work on our finances first. Once we have those in order, we can move on to the others. I believe that improving ourselves is just as important as improving our finances. We’re just going to get our money straight first.
Following in the footsteps of the original owner, every week I’m going to post a different skill or issue a different challenge. These will encourage you to focus on one aspect of your finances at a time. It’s overwhelming to think about the totality of our finances, especially when we’re deficient or ill-prepared. Doing it in smaller bites makes it more manageable and less intimidating. And, like with reading skills or math skills, each skill will build upon the previous week’s (or weeks’), until we’re more financial secure.
Staying focused
It’s hard to stay focused, especially during the work week. If you’re anything like me, you start off strong on Sunday but by Wednesday, you’re exhausted. You lose focus and start to drift into the abyss of failure. I’m not going to let that happen to you. Instead, we’re going to start our weeks on Wednesday. This way, the middle of the “week” is actually the weekend, which will give you a chance to refresh and regroup to make it through the last 2 days of the “week”.
Additionally, I’m going to give you a few hints to help keep you on track. Some of the hints are modeled off of the original 52 Week Plan, some of them are my own. Use the tips as you need to. If you have any tips that you find helpful, please share them in the comments!
Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Write the week’s task somewhere you can see it. Put it on a post-it in your planner or on your fridge or as a reminder on your phone.
  2. Make a list of what you need to do to accomplish the task.
  3. In the morning, take a moment to think about the weekly task and come up with one thing you can do today to finish the task. At night, take a moment to think about the weekly task and praise yourself for one thing you did that day to work towards completing the task.
  4. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Just do the best you can.

Week #1: Getting organized
This week we’re going to focus on getting organized.  It’s hard to know where to start if we don’t know what we’re working with. To get organized, we need to assemble the following information (if you don’t have them on hand, they can all be bought at the dollar store):

  • Your debts, including total balance, interest rates, minimum payments, and due dates
  • Your paperwork, including insurance policies, pending rebates, bills, etc.
  • Trash bags
  • Pens
  • Folders

What I want you to do it label the folders with words such as “bills due”, “insurance policies”, “credit cards”, “warranties”, etc and place the appropriate paperwork in each folder. Then I want you to create a list or a spreadsheet with your debts and the rest of the information listed above. Next, I want you to total those balances to get a grand total. Finally, I want you to toss/shred any old, irrelevant or unnecessary paperwork.
After all this is done, put the organized files in a drawer or in a multi-pocket folder (just make sure that it’s also labeled). For the “bills due” (this is assuming you still receive paper statements; if you don’t, create a folder in your email with the same label), keep it somewhere conspicuous so you don’t forget it.
That’s it. That’s all I want you to do this week. Next week, we’ll talk about how we did and how we can create a system to stay organized.