Life is busy and maybe even overwhelming at times. Work, family, friends, hitting the gym, scheduling and taxi service for your kids—it’s a lot. Finding time to dig into the meat of your finances can be a battle you ignore at your peril.
Clearing space to understand your money begins with recognition that the pressure of ignoring the warning signs is building to a boiling point; at which point, change is essential.
You’re at the cross-over point. Do you stay in fear or discomfort or do you move to a more satisfying place of gaining control? If getting more involved with your financial life will provide you with greater comfort, security and peace of mind, than it’s time for some changes.
If your schedule is indeed packed with truly unmovable activities, than outsourcing is key. If you don’t need or want to outsource everything, than focus on those areas that are most time demanding, technical or that make you want to poke a stick in your eye.
How to prepare for positive change? Try looking at it this way:
- Cop the right attitude: Dealing with money issues can be anywhere from a terrible strain to a positive, self-satisfying process. Remember, the goal is to enhance your life so that you feel more secure, satisfied and empowered. A great attitude makes all the difference.
- Get smart: Whether you’re approaching this with a solid foundation of financial wisdom or you are just starting out, knowledge is power. Where do you go to find good information? A great place to start is NAPFA.org, FPAnet.org, 360financialliteracy.org, financiallit.org. These sites are filled with information that can help you fill in your knowledge gap or provide bedrock information to support your learning.
- Choose the right time: If you have been struggling just to get your bills paid (or pull together your records at tax time), adding more to the agony is going to be a challenge. So pick a time when your energy is high—when you’re feeling strong and ready.
Taking control of your money life is like eating an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Start small and build confidence in your ability. Think of it like lifting weights—you’ve got to build up those muscles before you tackle any heavy lifting.
Let’s say you are building a spending plan and your goal is to master your budget. Make it a weekly event where you match up your expected income and expenses with your actual performance for the week. Actively take your surpluses and put them toward your goals—debt reduction or wealth building—each week. Every success builds your confidence AND your net worth.
Making time to get more deeply involved in your money life is an exercise in discipline and empowerment. Be gentle with yourself—even if you have an MBA in Finance, chances are you don’t have the depth of personal finance experience to handle some of the trickier questions that pop up.
Keep your expectations reasonable, start small and don’t be afraid to call in professional reinforcements when you need them. After all, you want to devote time to the activities that give you the most joy AND build your financial comfort too.