You KNEW I had to talk about finances as the New Year begins! Wellness definitely includes a sense of confidence when it comes to finances, but many people think they just can’t make headway so they give up trying and then have some level of constant stress in mind, body, and spirit related to money worries. So…if you are already a whiz at short- and long-term plans, investment portfolios, multiple income streams, and are on track for a fabulous retirement full of whatever is on your bucket list…kudos! If not, I invite you to keep reading.
THE BIG PICTURE
Have you always thought that financial success is all about having a strict, detailed budget and then sticking to it? I’m here to suggest another paradigm.
A traditional budgeting mindset is often about scarcity/status quo rather than abundance. While there are many good reasons to know what is coming in versus what is going out (more on that later), the most important thing is to ask WHERE AM I GOING. Do you have a plan for where you want to be in the future, or do you simply look at what exists and try to squeeze your life into that box? Unless you love everything about your current life AND you have everything in place to continue along the same path, change is probably in your future whether you want it or not. This post is meant to encourage you to embrace the idea of change and to feel that you have at least the basic tools to face that change.
Do you put money into savings? Both experts and conventional wisdom recommend saving at least 10% of your gross income (before taxes are taken out) every month. Act as if it’s not there when planning your spending for the month, and you will be amazed at how quickly you begin to have an emergency fund, a retirement fund, a vacation fund…whatever you feel you need. In other words, pay yourself first. I recommend also giving at least 10% of your gross income to the church/charities of your choice. Again, do this at the beginning of the month, before you start paying bills – as if you never received that money in the first place. You might say that you just can’t afford to set aside 10% – never mind 20% – of your gross income (especially if your taxes are also high). This is a scarcity mindset. The way to change your mindset is to say HOW CAN I do it? What CAN I change about my lifestyle and habits to be able to do it? Okay, maybe it won’t be the whole amount at first. Even if you start with 3% or 5% and keep moving toward your goal, you are already WAY ahead of where you would have been otherwise. When you discipline your mind to start looking for new solutions and to continue to look until you find them, your mind will obey you. Your job will be to stay open to – and willing to act upon – the ideas that come to you.
If you haven’t already done so, sit down and calculate how much money you have coming in every month (this would include from wages, stocks/bonds, rental income, annuities, and so forth), and how much you absolutely need to spend on fixed expenses every month. If there is a gap that is negative, your first order of business for peace of mind is to ask your mind HOW CAN I close the gap. You may be able to change the amount of some of the fixed expenses by finding new providers (by changing utility providers/services or food and clothing merchants, for example), by shedding some expenses (subscriptions of various kinds, hobbies that are not key passions), or by making lifestyle changes (eating out less often, planning purchases according to best time of year for sales, moving to a more affordable home/location, selling major “toys” that aren’t serving you) – you get the idea. Pay off your credit cards and loans, starting with those at the highest interest rates that would make the most difference in putting cash back into your pocket.
Keys to success:
- See the changes as an exciting challenge rather than as a a loss or deprivation
- Congratulate yourself with each bit of progress you make toward closing that gap and even going into positive territory
During the gap closing phase of your journey, it is important to pay close attention to even the small expenditures. If you feel that you need a simple management tool to keep you on track month by month, let me know.
As soon as you feel that you have a rhythm that is going in the right direction, you can consider focusing on “envelopes” of money dedicated to expense categories. In past generations when many people got paid in cash, they would literally put money in various envelopes labelled with the expense category that the money inside was designed to cover. Once the cash was gone, no additional funds could be spent on that category unless and until additional cash was available. In these modern times, most people are so used to paying for things with plastic cards that they have lost the sense of real cash being paid out. It is fine to charge items so that you can have a good tracking system. But if you can’t pay the card off in full each month to avoid interest charges, you may have lost accountability for the money you are spending. While you are tasking your mind to figure out HOW CAN I increase income, you can use real envelopes to minimize overspending. For example, if you know that you want to get a handle on your spending for fancy coffees, put the cash for the week or month in an envelope – or buy a gift card if you usually go to the same place. Once the money is gone, you wait to buy another coffee until the next time you “refill” the envelope.
The upside of the envelope system is that you don’t need to track every single expense item (obviously, you DO need more precise tracking when you are submitting business expense reports; here I am talking about personal finances). This allows you to be in control of spending decisions without feeling bogged down in frustrating and time-wasting details. If you want a special latte and there is money in the envelope, go for it! Use the same system for clothing, date night spending, vacations, whichever categories you choose.
Keys to success:
- Make sure that everything you spend is counted against a category
- Know the current balance in each category and honor a zero balance
BONUS: Would you like an essential oil blend that supports CONFIDENCE as you go through this process? Choose three of the following doTERRA essential oils: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Grapefruit, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, and Ylang Ylang. Add 3-4 drops each of the three oils chosen to a 10ml roll-on bottle, then top off the bottle with fractionated coconut oil or other pure carrier oil. Apply to the back of the neck and over your heart. Roll on your palms, cup your hands over your nose, and inhale. Apply as often as needed!
CHANGE YOUR MIND
This is money made simple. There is much more to be said, especially about finding ways to increase your income, but that will have to wait for another day. The first step is to move from I can’t to HOW CAN I.
I’d love to know if this has been helpful.