When was the last time you examined your finances? Like, really took a look to see if you were on track to your goals?
In this world of so much comparison to others, the convoluted lives that are portrayed on social media, the over-indulgence, instant gratification and “keeping up with the Jones’s” lifestyle can take our focus away from our own unique financial situation and whether we’re going to be able to live the lives we dream of.
There’s no shame in not being on track, or even having fallen a few steps behind. That’s life, and sometimes it’s a bitch. The important thing is acknowledging where you’re at, determining where you want to be, and a path to get you there now while you’re motivated and still have time to make it happen.
Whether you decide to dive in on your own, or seek the guidance of a professional, the first steps are the same.
4 Steps to Getting Yourself on the Path to the Perfect Financial Selfie
- Look at where you’re at. I mean, really look. Examine what your debt load is, your interest rates on each of those debts, how much you’re paying and what amount of that is actually going to principal versus interest and fees. Then move on to your regular monthly expenses. Are there ways you can make changes to save? Can you review other plans or other providers? And lastly, take a look at your discretionary spending. This is the stuff you spend money on outside of your bills, and can include groceries, entertainment, gas, coffees and meals out, as well as gifts and clothing. Determine what type of spender you are, and if there needs to be change. Knowing where you’re at is key to determining what you need to do.
- Set your goals. You can’t forge a path if you have no idea where you want to end up. Setting some short AND long term goals is key here. Those short-term goals could be reducing your debt, building up savings, or starting a new business. Long-term goals are more than 5 years out, so it could be a major milestone in your life like retirement, or your child’s post-secondary education. Write them down so you don’t forget them, and be as specific as you can be.
- Make your plan. What do you need to reach your goals? Whether it’s the help of a professional to develop a strategic debt reduction and savings plan, look at making some investments, or perhaps you just need to do some reading* to create better mindset and habits when it comes to money. (*I caution you to remember that books are written for the masses, and don’t always apply 100% to your unique situation. Read them with that in mind, as well as the demographic and geographic location they may be written for. For example, American authors write for Americans and we have different financial regulations and programs in Canada.)
- Work your plan. This is the most important part. There’s no use in having a plan if you don’t put it into action. Remember that whatever your plan to reach your goals looks like, it’s not written in stone. It’s meant to be reviewed consistently, and updated as necessary. This goes for your goals as well. I like having smaller goals that can be accomplished in a year, and then once they’re checked off the list, you can make new ones for the next year. This gives you a sense of forward movement, accomplishment, and motivation to keep going.
If you keep going back to these 4 steps over and over again, you’ll be at your best financial self in no time!
But wait… all that just totally overwhelmed me!
Maybe you’re like so many others out there and budgeting and financial analysis aren’t really your jam. Or perhaps you’d like to check in with a professional for validation of what you’re doing and accountability to keep you on track? Whatever your reason, there are financial pros like me to lend a helping hand.
As an independent insurance and investment advisor, I work for my clients to help them reach their goals – whatever they might be. I’m there to not only create a plan for them to put into action, but lend expertise and advice to what specifically pertains to their unique situation. No reading and deciphering books required, although I always encourage continuous learning.
Nothing happens overnight, but with dedication to your goals and what you need to accomplish them, you’ll not only gain peace of mind but feel amazing!