10 Steps to Help Start Tackling Your Finances

“You are responsible for how your life goes”

  1. Find a mentor.
  • This will be someone you can check in with. Someone who is going to hold you accountable to your word. This person is not there to make you wrong about your set-backs or breakdowns but to help you to confront where you are struggling or hitting a road block. Talk it out!! This person will also be your cheerleader when you chip off another block of your financial boulder or when you jump over that rough patch of three hurdles and concrete sidewalk on the other side! That being said this person should also be someone who has had some, if not complete, financial victories or freedom in their life. You have to start surrounding yourself around those people that bear a resemblance to how we want to be.
  • What’s more, be present in the good the bad and the ugly of it all. Take responsibility for what did or didn’t take place, then TAKE ACTION for everything in and around your financial success.

  1. Find out where your finances are going?
  • What that means is basically looking at your bank statement and often times receipts to discover what you are in fact spending your money on. I am guilty of saying that I have no idea where my money is going but when I took the time to look at what I was spending it on I was in for a rude awakening. Aside from my 4 main bills I was wasting precious dollars on McDonalds and non-sense at Walgreens, the Dollar Tree, and various Fashion hot spots!

 

  1. Record everything you’re spending
  • Pretty self explanatory this one. But for clarification; WRITE EVERYTHING YOU’RE SPENDING DOWN!! I don’t care if it is a stick of gum or a car wash; the idea is to get it down so you can see where even the tiniest money is being distributed. That extra Starbucks, that monthly gym membership, down to that penny candy at the gas station. All of it adds up people; believe me when I tell you. The dollar menu at McDonalds is designed to make you think you are saving but then you just end up buying it more often because you think you can and you’re not spending large sums of money. Do not hide behind that train because I can guarantee it only leads to a dead end.

 

  1. Create opportunities where you don’t have to spend extra cash!
  • Piggy Backing on the previous step bringing your own lunch to work, school, the gym, or wherever you’re spending long periods of time at will definitely keep you within your budget because you are already factoring in groceries which in turn become your lunch and just planning ahead for things you know are coming up! Sometimes you have to expand the budget you already have to fit in other things that either pop up or you take on prior to the next month. This way you can still do the things you love without regretting them later.

 

  1. Set up a form of savings for yourself.
  • Make the amount something realistic, be it $25 or however much you can truly commit to, nobody should be judging your amount except maybe you but you know yourself best so again choose a realistic value. Money saved is money accumulated so no matter how much you decide on, in the long run you will be investing into your future! Have this amount be taken out every paycheck. Make sure this money is going into an account that is not connected to your regular checking account or somewhere that you have to do some work to get to it. I am big on out of sight out of mind! For me if I cannot get to it easily than I most likely won’t do the work to obtain it unless I feel it is particularly urgent. And while I want that new outfit or shoes, I am not desperate for them enough to go tracking down a second account!

 

  1. Print your detailed credit report. This will show you any loans, outstanding medical bills, or balances due to organizations.
  • Remembering a book I was given (The Money Book for the Young Fabulous & Broke –Suze Orman) I chose to check my credit report once again at http://www.annualcreditreport.com  because on other attempts to get my financial game in order ( I did try people I just didn’t follow through as effectively as I would have liked) I probably could have been financially free two years ago but I just didn’t have all the right tools, mindset or individuals in my life that reflected what I wanted. With that, the procrastination game has long seen its day and it’s time to take action!!!

 

  1. Get present to what you owe that you are not aware of or have been avoiding, such as family or friends that you borrowed money from.
  • This is probably the hardest debt to keep track of because these are sources of debt that are close to you. They should be understanding and have a never ending expiration date. However it’s also the debt we never document. It’s the “favor” that stays in the back of our minds somewhere lingering in the sub conscious and we forget about it until someone reminds us that it’s there. OR like me you remember and it feels like a suffocation of self because you know you don’t have a clear hold on it. Well take it into action and be accountable, that means you write it down and create a manuscript around it so it is in existence and you can get it out on the table and then out of your financial blue-print for good. The thing about blue prints is they can be altered. Not the supporting walls but anything added within the space, yes!! We were not born with debt; for the most part we created it so let’s start some renovations and build something worth living in and with!

 

  1. Take steps to sort through how to tackle the bullet points on your credit report and your personal debts (borrowing from friends & family). Put together your GAME PLAN!!
  • Decide what is most pressing. Now for most “pressing” means it is the largest amount that could get us in the most trouble (or already has) or that if we paid off tomorrow we could sleep a hell of a lot easier. NO! NO! NO! That is not the case. For me I have student loans racked up and that would take more than just one year or six months to clean up. Therefore, I might look at the smaller debts on my credit report ($300 $500 $1200 maybe) and really look at those items first to decide where and how I am going to budget in order to get those paid off ASAP.
  • Then give yourself another tangible goal as to when you plan to settle those debts…within six to twelve months or longer. I feel that smaller debts should have a smaller time span to pay off as opposed to a car loan, medical bills or excessive credit card debt.
  • Also while getting all hyped up creating your game plan PLEASE don’t forget to factor in your every day expenses, not the frivolous ones we’re trying to break; but food, shelter, transportation, life/car insurance, children, pets, etc. Its one thing to take on your debt but another not to start slacking on other areas or creating other areas where additional debt/expenses can and will present themselves.

 

  1. Look at all the actions you will take to eliminate your debts and confront them head on
    1. If you take baby steps that’s okay
      • There is no right or wrong way to do this, the only thing there is, in fact, to do is to at the end of the day be actively working to “just get it done”. Even if you feel paralyzed by the amount of your debt, vow to make a phone call to weigh your options or inquire how to dispute an issue that you don’t believe to be true on your report. Ask someone to help you read your report with you. Devote yourself to tackling something new on your finance list once a week for an hour. Make it Finance Friday and do what you can on that day in the allotted time and in the event you get frustrated then stop there, make notes and revisit it next week. But challenge yourself to build up to every day being finance day so eventually there will be nothing left in the dark!
    2. Tackle one thing at a time, it’s less overwhelming that way
      • To some people a bill that equals $300 is nothing but for those of us struggling or a victim of anxiety don’t see it that way, me included, so cut it in half and pay $150 this check and $150 next check. Those voices that whispers sour something’s in your ear are not paying off your debt while they ridicule you, are they?? No so keep calm and carry on with what you can do in this moment. Make a commitment that speaks to you.
    3. Remember; make what you’re tackling realistic and small enough for you to gain progress and count as an achievement.
      • No truer words spoken! Let’s just be awesome in our victories! I could eat a whole pie if you let me, not all in one sitting; But don’t underestimate that the job will get done with tiny efforts here and there, sometimes in a matter of hours, a day or a few months, etc. The goal is to make it worth it and not a burden. Don’t make creating financial freedom for yourself feel like another chore to be done but an event to celebrate and be victorious in! 

 

  1. Give yourself homework.
  • You’re not too old. By doing that you are moving forward instead of standing still. Set short term goals for yourself, “by Friday end of day I will have paid X bill and started saving towards bill Y” or “I will call creditor W to figure out a payment plan that will clear me of this debt in 8 months”. Once you’ve mastered something you only “think” you have, understand that it takes maintenance and continual effort to not resort back to old ways of being.

 

Keep all areas of your life at the forefront. Never believe that something is “fixed” for “good”. It’s all a work in progress.

And remember:

“You are responsible for how your life goes”

 

 

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