This blog features an article written by Tonya Rapley originally published on RedbookMag.com. It outlines a simple four-week plan will improve everything about your money situation! Financial educator Tonya Rapley, founder of My Fab Finance, will get you going in the right direction….
When I say “money,” what comes to mind? Do you envision a stack of happy cash, or something more like a panicked dollar running in circles? I’ve been there, where my finances made me feel anxious and stressed rather than secure and excited. But you can change that — I did! — no matter what you make or how worried you are.
That’s because financial success is not really about having a certain amount in the bank; it’s largely about doing what you said you would do with your money. Reaching a goal, even if it seems small at first, is how you build financial confidence — and that’s what’ll bring in the actual dollars. I’ve found that I increase my chances of achieving my goals when I have the right tools and follow a process. So I created this four-week plan that’ll work for any financial goal you might have. Do you want to get out of debt? Save more? Invest smarter? Buy a house? Start a side gig? Home in on what you want, then follow these steps to get it.
You could go through this process quickly, but I recommend giving yourself the full month — taking your time and not trying to do everything at once will make these things more of a habit in your life. Now let’s get you started!
WEEK 1: Step 1 – Get Organized
It’s time to face the money, which can be the scariest part! When I gathered all my info this way for the first time, I felt as if I were walking into a room with all my bad decisions, and they were staring me in the face accusingly. My finances were in a state of disarray, due to an abusive relationship followed by my decision to ignore my money as a coping mechanism. When I finally looked at my situation, I had to remind myself, These are just numbers, and by looking at them, I was putting the power in my own hands. This step helps you get comfortable with your money so you can use it wisely. Knowing where you are financially is the only way to move forward.
WEEK 1: Step 2 – Gather Your Supplies
Do you have a place to record your numbers and your thoughts? A simple notebook or a financial organizer will help you keep it all together. Also consider a physical storage solution such as an accordion binder or, ideally, something more secure, like a safe.
WEEK 1 – Step 3: Make a List of Your Accounts
You can do this! Include things like bank accounts, investments, and loans, and be sure you have the passwords for all of them (and do not judge yourself if you have to reset every single one because you’ve forgotten what they are).
WEEK 1 – Step 4: Write Up 3 More Lists
Once you’ve got all your accounts in front of you, this will be a snap. List your debts (don’t forget the $60 you owe your sister), cash on hand, and assets like retirement accounts and home equity. You’ll refer to this when you start making choices about your next steps.
WEEK 2 – Step 5: Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Now it’s time to face yourself. I’ve seen a huge range of emotions from my clients: Some are afraid of not having enough or making bad decisions; others feel guilty over past choices or even what they do have. Our money stories are so personal; it’s important to understand yours so that it won’t get in the way of your goals.
WEEK 2 – Step 6: Identify Your Challenges
Recognizing problems that might prevent you from achieving your goals gives you the chance to create work-arounds. Common challenges include: a lack of time or resources, a need for more information, spending triggers, and family or friends. Write down what’s holding you back and know it’s nothing to be ashamed of — look back at your wins if you need to.
I firmly believe that if there is a challenge, there is a solution. So focus on each of the challenges you listed and think about how you can address it. You are not powerless! Use these examples as inspiration:
- CHALLENGE: I’m too busy to think about the side gig I’d like to try. SOLUTION: Commit to just 20 minutes per day. That will make it easier to find help with kids, put aside chores, or stay up a teeny bit later.
- CHALLENGE: I don’t know enough about investing to do it right. SOLUTION: Get familiar with the basics using helpful sites such as Khan Academy and Creative Live, sign up for a class at a community college, or ask family and friends for recommendations for financial planners.