Many people do not like to talk about finances. When you are single and looking to start a relationship, it may even be more difficult to discuss. And that’s okay. Now allow me to ask you why. Do you shrink away and lower your head when someone talks about finances? Do you change the subject or walk away feeling inadequate because you have nothing saved, yet debt is building? If so, finances may be holding you back from finding a fulfilling relationship. Finances are a key piece to your puzzle and are often overlooked. I’ve been there and can help you achieve financial independence and the confidence that comes with this freedom.
Our finances do not have to be perfect, and most are not. Perfection is not the goal so throw it out the window. We should know where we stand and be aware of the choices we made and need to make. Once we have that knowledge and control, we can begin to move forward with renewed confidence to attract what we desire in our life.
Join me in walking through some steps to help you build the independence and confidence that comes with financial freedom. HINT: It’s not necessarily more money.
Step 1: First, I ask you to close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Reflect on some of your happiest moments – a time when you shined brightly. When you graduated, went back to school, got your first job, were promoted, mastered a new skill, helped care for a loved one, or gave great service to a customer. Point being you already do many things well and have had past success. Hold onto that good feeling as we delve into another area – personal finances. You can and will be a success with your finances, too.
Step 2: Now open your eyes. Let’s begin with awareness, coupled with kindness and understanding for ourselves. Not self-judgement. We all make mistakes, and we can also learn from them, if we choose. That’s how we grow and improve. Open your eyes to your current financial situation. Get your head out of the sand. Hold on to your past successes as we unfold the future with intention.
To help open your eyes, there is a 10 question Your Financial Plan Quiz on the Links page of my website, http://kathyjopollack.com/links.html under the Personal Finance section. How does your financial picture look? The next step may help frame your picture.
Step 3: Prepare a monthly budget – a spending plan – and write it down. This can be as simple as paper and pencil, an Excel spreadsheet, or a software program. I still use paper and pencil. This is yours, so do what is best for you. Try different things and experiment. Make it fun! However you choose to do it, list all of your debts as well as your income. Simply put, what’s coming in and what’s going out. Know what it costs you to live and pay your bills. This is your spending plan. There is a HUGE weight lifted off your shoulders once you face these numbers and write them down. Again, no judging.
Don’t like the sound of having a budget? Keep in mind that budgets are fluid, flexible and ever-changing, just like life. If you don’t like the sound of a budget, how do you like the sound of more debt, no purpose, or an unhealthy relationship? Budgets are not meant to restrict you but guide you and hold you accountable to your responsibilities so that you feel confident as you continue your journey.
Step 3 Bonus Tips:
3.1 Think monthly. Break down larger bills that may be annual or semi-annual, into monthly amounts. You can find a simple Excel budget spreadsheet on http://kathyjopollack.com/links.html. Use your checkbook, credit card statements, and monthly bills to help guide you. Adjust it as you gain more information. The ultimate goal is to live within (or a bit under) your means. Look at your bottom line. Be honest. Do you need to spend less or make more? Or a combination? Those are your only choices. If you are spending too much or supplementing with credit cards, ask yourself why? Does your plan match your values and goals?
3.2 Get creative. Look at your talents and skills. Is it time to ask for a raise/promotion or add a new skill to your resume? How about a side job? You may not be there yet, and that’s okay. It’s an ongoing work in progress. There are many great free resources, articles, podcasts, and seminars at your fingertips, which brings me to the next step.
Step 4. Educate yourself about finances. Get a total picture of managing your money. Now that you have your budget, how can you make it work for you? If it’s working, what can you improve upon to make you feel that you are okay in this area? If your bottom line is red, what needs to happen? Here are a few things to check out. What is your debt-to-income ratio? Have you looked at your credit reports? What’s your credit score? How about your savings and retirement? Are you taking advantage of your employer’s match? The more you know the better; one step at a time. No one can ever take away what you have learned. Knowledge is power and a huge confidence builder. In fact, the more you know the better prepared you will be for financial conversations and the more confidence you will have with your life, choices, and relationships.
Step 5: Set at least one financial goal. Without goals what is your purpose? Here are some ideas: Build an emergency fund. Pay off one credit card. Pay off your car. Tackle your school loan. Save for a house. What would motivate you? How do you want your financial picture to look? What would allow you to hold your head high? Write down at least one goal along with simple things you can do to work towards it. Start with one and you can, and will, add more as you feel your progress. It only takes one to get the ball rolling!
Step 6. Find an accountability partner (not to be confused with a knight in shining armor because there are none and no one can save you but you). This is your journey, and the answers are within you, not in another person or bail out. There are no quick fixes. This is an inside job.
An accountability partner walks with you and helps to support you on your mission and achieve your goals. They don’t solve your problems but partner with you to solve them for yourself. That is powerful. You may think this is extra tough because you are single, but actually you are in a great position! Seek out someone you admire for their financial savvy. A friend, co-worker, family member, even a financial coach, counselor or specialist. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Share your goals and invite them to walk with you on your journey. Many couples argue about finances or do not agree on goals or how to spend money. This is your opportunity to become secure with your finances, and then ready to attract what you value. You will be in a much better position to add a relationship or partner to the mix when you are financially healthy. So, don’t go it alone; find that accountability partner.
Final Step. Continue opening new doors, learning new things, asking questions, and embracing new opportunities. Always be flexible and patient with yourself. Remember your past successes and know that you can master your finances, too, and attract what you want in your life.