Just because your BFF just bought a smokin’ hot pair of $150 jeans doesn’t mean you need to too! Just because your brother bought a brand new truck doesn’t mean you need to do that either–what is YOUR financial reality?
Growth–what do you think of when you hear this word? I think in 3 stages…personal growth, professional growth, and financial growth. In my case, all three overlap so much that it hardly matters what order I list them.
Focused growth–in which areas would you like to grow? My focus this year is growing financially, but not in terms of an increase in dollars and cents. For those of you new to my story, allow me to share a little background:
I worked for an NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) member agency. While the agency did/does the right things, the CEO and VP were toxic. So toxic that in less than one year I had resigned my position and written a 5 page grievance letter to the Board of Directors. I did not make this decision lightly. I had a terrific team of four underneath me, I loved providing the education and the counseling to my clients, I wanted/needed the paycheck, but decided, through extensive discussion with my husband that my mental and physical health were worth more than the little I was being paid.
With that background in place…my financial growth isn’t so much in dollars and cents as it is determining the following: 1. How can we (or can we at all) live more effectively than we did on two incomes, 2. How much money did we waste last year, and 3. How do we (can we) continue saving (both adding to emergency savings and the other necessary savings for our family). Additionally, I’d like to grow my reputation as a reliable source for budgeting, credit, and financial literacy education.
As I trudge, accelerate, run, walk, crawl, cry, jump for joy (insert foretelling adjective here ;)) through this next year, I will share this journey, as well as my expertise gained from over 14 years experience in Collections, Bankruptcy, Fraud and Financial Counseling. Helping others grow through their financial journeys, helping others make more informed, better financial decisions for themselves and their families, is also part of my financial (literacy) growth.
On this 3rd day of January, I am already a little “interested” about the ability to put money in savings and leave it there. My car wouldn’t start last night. We have roadside assistance and once my husband cleans it out (he drove it last…eek :)), we’ll call and have it towed on post (we’re an Army family) to get the estimate, make a few phone calls to make sure I’m getting the best deal, and get it fixed. I was already planning on getting the timing belt and spark plugs replaced, but now it looks as though we may have to add a starter (battery is new)…or some such thing. Also, today as we were getting ready to go out in the cold (27 degrees in GA is extremely cold), we determined that my son was in desperate need of new shoes. So, off to the shoe store we go.
In every financial situation I have ever seen, one pay period tends to be tighter than the other (assuming two pay periods per month). Our tightest, of course, is the first of the month. We carry money from the middle of the prior month to the beginning of the next month in order to have a little money in flex savings as well as ensure everything gets paid. Now that I am without a regular income, of course, things seem to hit harder and faster than before. It’s not if, it’s when!
I think, though, that I can answer at least part of my financial growth questions. #1—We can live effectively…more effectively, I don’t know, but combining with #2, I am certain that we can live almost (ALMOST) as comfortably as we did last year on two incomes. Planning is paramount. We have to be more financially conscious, shop more reliably with a menu and a grocery list—in our family my husband is not allowed to go grocery shopping without me—and we have to think outside the box for fun and entertainment.
What financial choices do you need to make? Next week I’m going to talk about SMART goals—so stay tuned! SMART goals can help you accomplish whatever you want…one step at a time…and are particularly effective with financial matters!
Growth is imperative to success! You can do it! Determine what you want to do and let me know if I can provide any guidance!
Other blogs I hope you’ll check out:
It’s An Ordinary Blog
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/itsanordinaryblog
The Pajama Mama
The House of Boys…& a Girl
As I begin my foray into the 2014 blogosphere, I want to make sure that I do it well and do it right. I believe the best way to do anything right is to ground it in reality so that we are aware that what we see truly is, well, what IS.
Financial Reality is tough. Johnny gets paid more than Sally. Karen gets paid more than Donald. Life’s not fair.
The Jones’ just bought a brand new car. The Smith’s just got a vacation house. Billy and Susie down the street got everything on their Christmas wish lists. Everybody is spending, but fewer and fewer are doing so based in reality.
Financial Reality is knowing what we spend, understanding how we spend, and utilizing our financial tools effectively. Does that mean that we can’t finance a car? No. Does that mean we can’t rack up airline miles using a credit card? No. Does that mean that we get to do everything the family down the street does? Oh, heck no. Does that mean that we need to think before we spend, pay off what debt we do have efficiently, not accumulate more debt, save, and think outside the box? ABSOLUTELY YES!!
As you begin your New Year, I want to encourage you to base your financial choices in reality. Create a spending plan. Know what you have coming in every month. Know what you have going out every month. Track your spending. Know where to turn if you need help! Ask for help when needed. Pay off debt. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals (stay tuned, more on that next week!)…and most importantly, realize…IT’S ONLY MONEY.
It’s only money? Yes, strange thing for an Accredited Financial Counselor to say. It’s true, though. Dollars and cents control our lives because OUR MONEY uses US instead of us utilizing IT.
Over the course of the next month I’m going to focus on Financial Reality–what it is and how to define it–as well as understanding Financial Reality when buying a car, utilizing a credit card, buying gifts, saving for vacation, teaching children about saving, and so much more! I want to make sure that you realize that YOU have the POWER to CONTROL YOUR MONEY!!! I have done plenty of things right with money. I have also made lots of mistakes. I will share my stories, what my husband and I have done right and wrong, the good, the bad, and probably some of the ugly too. I’m looking forward to a New Year and helping you define your (New) Financial Reality!