I want to talk about a very taboo subject… MONEY. People don’t ever want to talk about money. Why not? Well, personally I think we’ve just grown up being told that our money, income, debt and financial decisions are nobody else’s business and it’s noneto know about other people’s money either.
I personally don’t see what the big deal is. In fact, I really wish my parents had talked more about money when I was growing up. When I left home to go to college I knew nothing about saving, investing or even budgeting. So, like a lot of other young, unsuspecting college kids, I found myself with a credit card that was like easy money. Only problem was that the bill needed to be paid and with no money coming in on a regular basis, I found myself in some debt. Up until then I didn’t even know what it meant to be in debt.
When I finished school, my dad offered to co-sign on a consolidation loan for me so that I could pay off my student loans and credit card at a much lower monthly payment. But really up until them I knew nothing about loans, interest rates or debt ratios. It was at that time that I realized I needed to figure out at least the basics. Since then, I’ve made some big money mistakes but I’ve also learned a lot too.
Now when I’m setting goals for myself, I create a “spending plan”. I personally hate the word “budget”. It sounds so restrictive, like you’re depriving yourself of one thing in order to have another. So, instead, I call it my spending plan. So, when you’re creating a spending plan for your future, think of your goals and think: “How much is that going to cost?” I want you to research everything related to that goal. Find out how much everything is going to cost, even the small things. Figure out how much it’s going to cost you to achieve your goal. If it’s to pay off a certain amount of debt, that’s pretty straightforward but make sure you include the interest costs and banking fees too. But let’s say you’re planning a trip somewhere. One of my goals is to travel to Nova Scotia in August 2015 to meet my relatives and research and connect with my family history. Here’s what I did to develop a spending plan that works. I will be spending 2 weeks in Nova Scotia. That is non-negotiable. Once I decided on that I sat down and researched every single cost for the trip; flights, food, accommodations, genealogy costs, car rental, gas for the rental, any shopping I’ll want to do, everything. Write down every single cost that is associated with that goal.
But before you do that, take a look at what you’ve been doing up until now to reach your goals. Take a look at your values, what’s truly important to you. Now, take a look at your bank statement and your credit card statements and put them next to your list of values. Now, ask yourself this question, “Is my spending in alignment with my values?” When you look at your statements does what you’re spending align with what’s important to you?
Obviously there are things that you need to pay for like housing and food. But when you go looking back at your values you can see how much you’re actually paying for those things. For example, if you value a clean lifestyle, living as natural as possible, why are you paying a mortgage on a house in the city? There are other alternatives that will align better with who you really are and what’s important to you. Stop with the excuses… those are just your internal competition telling you that you can’t have what you want. You need to get over your money blocks, the things that are stopping you from making shit happen.
If you value health and vitality but you’re buying take-out a few times a week, something’s off. If you value education but you haven’t taken a course for years, something’s off. It’s interesting to look at where your money is going but more importantly it’s giving you some insight into where you can make changes. When you spend your money with purpose, when it’s aligned with what’s important to you, you will consciously be better equipped to make better purchases. You’re not buying stuff to impress anybody or to live a certain lifestyle because you “should”. You’re making purchases based on what YOU want out of YOUR life.
Do the research so that you can develop a step by step plan on how to make each of your goals happen. Once you have these numbers in front of you it becomes that much more real because you know what you’re dealing with. And, now you’ll have a concrete number to work with, not just some imaginary “holy crap I can’t afford” that number.
Just because you may not have learned much about money in the past doesn’t mean you need to just settle with what you have right now. You can have whatever you want in life. You just need to go out there and get it. Stop making the excuses of “I can’t afford it” or “I don’t know how". Now you do know how.