You’ve decided to embark on a debt free, or at least more financially sound, journey! Congrats! Now, before you go full force into the seven baby steps, or any other system of financial relief, you have a small to-do list first. You need to have some of your things in order, before you move on to getting MORE things in order. Kind of like when you go to clean, you need to kind of tidy before getting started on the deeper cleaning.
How to tidy up your finances in 7 easy steps:
- Be honest with yourself about money. Are you telling your self MONEY LIES? Before you can do anything else, you need to work past these lies/excuses you keep using to hold yourself back. The first step is holding yourself accountable, you can’t give yourself the old, “dog ate my homework” crap anymore. You deserve better than that.
- Get used to using cash. Set your rules and stick to them. Categorize the cash you take out, don’t ‘borrow’ from one category to excuse overspending in another, make lists and buy only what you need. I promise once you get out of that store and start to see your savings build up and begin to think more about the bigger fun things you really want to do, you won’t feel deprived at all! Give it a shot and rule one applies with this too, be honest with yourself and don’t cheat yourself out of what is really important to you.
- Have all of your payments current. You can’t expect to start to get ahead when you’re already behind. Before you can build savings and eliminate debt and live freely, you need to work on getting everything current. Do that by budgeting and using your cash system and and work your way to being current. This could take as little as a month, or as long as a year. You need to practice having determination anyway so here’s your practice. Rent, utilities, even credit card payments (have you looked at what you get charged by being just one day late on a credit card payment?! Yeeeesh!) all need to be current.
- Be open and honest with your spouse. If there’s an adult that you share finances with, you both need to be accountable. No finger pointing, no blame, own up to each of your mistakes and vow to take this journey TOGETHER. It doesn’t work when one is trying to save and get ahead and the other a serial swiper, it also is very difficult if one has no clue what’s going on in the bank account and the other has to manage and take charge of everything. It’s a lot of work, work that at least needs to be discussed and shared in a way that works for both of you. There are tons of options, from budget dates, or deciding a spending amount for each of you (what my husband and I do) all the way to keeping the money separate, if all else fails. I’ve seen it work as long as you are both contributing to your goals as a couple/family.
- Be prepared to say no. Every plan on the face of the earth, other than winning the lottery, will involve you saying no to things. You dug this financial burden of a hole you’re in by saying yes to too many things, now you’ll need to learn to say no to some stuff. You can still plan some fun, have a little fun money in each pay period, save up for fun stuff and even use that fun stuff as an incentive to saying no and building your savings up, but you’re going to be saying no more throughout the process.
- Be prepared to be weird. Ha! I love any plan that tells me right off the bat that I’m going to be weird. People might think its weird that you aren’t showing up for brunch as often, they’ll also think it’s weird when you buy a car with cash, or put your kids through college debt free, they’ll think it’s weird when you can retire, and they’ll think it’s weird when you’re on a vacation to some tropical beautiful place that required a passport, while they are trying to pay their 10 credit card minimum payments along with their lights every month. Weird is FUN, but only if you’re willing to embrace it!
- “Be prepared to live like no one else so that you can LIVE like no one else!”
Are you ready to embark on this journey? It’s an uphill battle, one I’m right at the beginning of too, but I hear the view once you get to the top is fantastic!
Until next time friends!