I am a firm believer that we are done a disservice in this country by not providing financial literacy as a mandatory class in schools for our young children as a part of life preparation. Some of us are forced to learn about these things much later in life and likely after we realize how important financial education really is.
This year I had made a conscious effort to get absolute and total control over my finances. When I was younger and in the military, we didn't make much money and having a child on top of that didn't help. There were times I didn't have a clue how I would get diapers to the daycare or gas in my car to get to work. Then one day I started making a ton of money and I lost it. I went from shopping at New York & Company to shopping at Neiman Marcus. I wasn't eating hot dogs anymore! I was eating that good Filet Mignon! I was taking trips and buying nice cars and homes and all the while my savings was suffering. I wasn't even really considering tomorrow or the next day or the next day. With all my education and experience, I thought I would be riding high on that hog until one day I wasn't.
After buying a new house, I was laid off from my job. For six months I was twiddling my thumbs and thinking to myself, how dare they not hire me! Have they seen my resume?!?!?! Being out of work that long allowed me to put so many things into perspective and even though I didn't start right in that moment, I began to say to myself, I have to have a better plan of action than this one.
I have recently started working with a Financial Adviser who is every bit worth her weight in gold. She's been helping to get my finances organized and just getting me re-energized on how to attack my finances in a positive way.............most of which I knew but ignored. I find it is great and at times very necessary to have the balance of someone else telling you that you better not spend that money and you telling yourself! lol She will call me out on it too! I also did the Live Richer Challenge with the Budgetnista (http://www.livericherchallenge.net/) which also helped me figure out ways to cut out wasteful spending and change my mindset on prioritizing the way I invest my money on a day to day basis. The challenge is awesome for anyone who is interested.
Anyway, here are some things I have been doing that have been more than helping me redefine my financial position:
- MAKE A LIST (I have an awesome tracking spreadsheet if you need some help!)
Ensure you know what bills you want to tackle and write them down. If you have a lot of debt you may be overwhelmed trying to take care of everything at once so this step is really critical for you!
Remember: You didn't get yourself into debt in a week so it won't take a week to get out. Rome was not built in a day either!
- PRIORITIZE RATES
Make sure you have figured out all balances and interest rates so that you know what will be critical to pay off first. We all know that it is better to pay more than what we owe on all our bills, no matter what they are, but when overwhelmed, you need to prioritize differently. The bills with higher interest rates need to go first.
Remember: Pay minimums on everything else! Redirect those funds to the next thing when it is paid off!!
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BESIDES EMERGENCY USE CREDIT CARDS IN THIS PROCESS!!! You are working to dig out not dig out to get get back in. It takes much discipline and hard work to get back into the black but the sacrifice is well worth it.
- PAY YOURSELF
People often forget that in the process of taking care of their debt that they also need to take care of themselves. No matter what you are putting away, put away something. There are so many different cool challenges that you can be a part of that save in many different ways. Whatever it takes to motivate you. Only you know what that is. What I have done to assist me in the matter is download and use the saving tool called Digit. (http://www.digit.co/) The cool thing about this tool is that it does an analysis of how you spend and it pulls money from your account in a way that doesn't affect you. It also alerts you of any major spending changes that have happened with your account so you can keep track. I love it! It's not for everyone but check it out.
Last but certainly not least.........................
- CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
When you have spent so much time as I have being fiscally irresponsible because you think your money is limitless, then this is what you need to get started. I am not budget analyst but I know what has been working well for me. I have always lived by the motto that life is short and you have to live in the moment. You also hear people say you can't take it with you. But the truth is you have to find the balance in your life between living in the moment and preparing for the future...............since you don't know how much life you actually have to live!
Hope this helps someone! And if you live in the DMV area and need a good financial adviser, message me! I have a great one I promise.
Until Next Time Lovies!