Money is not a four/ five letter word, nor is it a lottery ticket. It’s not something to be afraid of or something to take lightly.
How do you get ahead of your finances? What are some steps you can take today that will make future you very happy!
These steps are some of the steps I used throughout college, and I was able to graduate without dept. Praise Jesus! All to Him! These steps I’ve used throughout my life that help me use money to my advantage, not the other way around. These are also steps that, when I don’t follow, I begin to feel like I’m treading water, and that my finances are starting to own me.
TAKE A REAL LOOK AT WHERE YOU’RE AT NOW.
No holds barred, where are you at now? Do you have $10,000 in debt? Do you have $100,000 in debt? Either way the first way to start getting out of that debt is to be honest with yourself of where you’re at. This pre-step is so important because we are good at ignoring what we don't want to accept.
I don’t want to you accept and sit in that debt, but being honest with yourself will allow you to take a real look at what you can and can’t do right now to move yourself towards your overall goal.
TRACK YOUR EXPENSES BOTH NECESSARY AND FRIVOLOUS
Now, don’t go “cold turkey” on all of your extra expenses, and sit and eat beans all day. You’re not taking care of your mental or physical health if you do that.
What is healthy for you to do though, is to pull up your credit card statement or your bank statements and take thirty minutes to track your spending over the past week.
Are you spending the majority of your money on your rent, food, travel, movie tickets, etc. Take a real look at where your money is going on a weekly and monthly basis. If you’re not sure where it’s going how can you get better at tracking that?
DO YOUR RESEARCH
The first and one of the most exciting steps in the process of getting ahead of your finances is to research. Find the areas where you can save by doing very little, or where you can stop spending more by doing very little.
When I first did this I found that if I were to “lump sum” pay my car insurances for the next six months as opposed to paying month to month, I was going to save over $150 dollars. That’s more than what one month of my insurance was. Why would I not do that!
Look into how you can set up auto payments. Do you have months that you get busy and forget to pay the bill until too late and now you have a late fee. Nothing is more disappointing and frustrating than having to pay more for rent just because you’re paying on the 4th instead of the 3rd. IF you can set up auto payments, do it!
It will help your mind too because your don’t have to think about that anymore. All of your major bills will get paid without you even having to pay them attention on a detailed monthly basis after the original research.
Take that free money and stop paying unnecessary extra money!
TAKE OUT $50 FROM YOUR BANK ACCOUNT AND NOTICE HOW QUICKLY OR SLOWLY IT GOES
We live in a world where plastic is king. We swipe, and the money is gone.
It gets real when you have to physically hand over your hard earned cash for that pair of jeans. It’s also amazing to see how you spend physical money.
Does that $50 last you all week, or are you out to dinner and over half is already gone?
This small demonstration can be eye opening. There is no way not to notice where the money is going when you’re physically giving it to someone.
IS YOUR PLASTIC WORKING FOR YOU OR AGAINST YOU
I say the above to also say this as well; if you know you can still pay as much attention to swiping as handing over cash, are you using that to your advantage?
If you have a credit card, is that card adding up points that you can use for flights or to pay off a credit card bill after a few months?
There are also cards that will give you more back based upon what you purchase. I know myself and I love eating out, it’s something I have to watch, but also my credit card is one that will give me double points for food or travel. I’m turning my challenges into my successes.
What are you giving to your church or community?
Is there a need in the community that you can put some of your money towards?
This is such a necessary step of faith! It’s something that can be difficult, but will make all the difference. I say this to you as much as I say to myself! God says test me. What have you done recently to take that trust step and give back?
Find a partner in your quest to get ahead of your finances. Is there someone in your life who is also looking to get ahead of their finances that you can lean on?
Look to that friend who you know will call you out, and ask them to. If you know you’re going to have a conversation every Saturday with someone who will ask you the hard questions from the past week, you’re more likely to not spend the money because you know you’ll feel guilty having to explain why you did that.
You can also talk about your struggles together. If you have a hard week and you really just need to spend some money, having that person in your life say “It’s ok, we’ll go hard next week.” is so helpful. We’re all human and there are times that if we tighten too much, we’re going to crack. Have that person be your backup, and be their support as well!
Two cords working together towards a goal is going to be much stronger than one cord trying to hold that one cord by themselves and wondering why the swing is starting to sag.
LOOKING FOR MORE RESOURCES?
Both my parents and I have used Dance Ramsey’s books to help get us on the right path! It’s hard, but living like no one else now really does add up, see what I did there!