So, my last post for 2018 was one of the hardest things to think about or comprehend constructively. It is that lovely taboo topic called money management and debt.
When I quit my job, I quickly realized how much spending I was doing on a daily basis. The two significant factors were mindlessly spending on little things and just giving my money away because it felt good to help.
Starting my own business made me much more careful about how I was spending my money. So, I am not an expert in finances, and I will never claim to be because there is SO much more I need to learn.
However, in 2018, I did accomplish some goals as I became mindful with my relationship with money. The most significant accomplishment was paying off almost $10,000 in debt. I still have $31,000 left to pay off, but it does feel good to know my debt is going down rather than up. My debt really isn’t on any significant spending but rather a big student loan and medical bills.
For 2019, I am going to try to pay off at least $12,000 in it. I want to finish paying this off because I need to start spending more time with my loved ones. I miss having the ability to take my daughter out. I miss just having time. So, being mindful of my time and spending has hopefully help me with the ability to accomplish these goals.
Here are some approaches that I used in 2018 to help me reduce my working time and also to have the ability to pay things off. I hope to use these same skills to improve my outlook for 2019.
The biggest habit that I acquired in 2018 is making more intentional choices on how I spend my money. I also realized that I have people that I can ask for help whether that was with actual money or with time. I didn’t understand how closed off I had made myself until I needed help on the one thing I prided myself in doing.
The first thing I realized is that easy shopping was not my friend. These small purchases were too often and collectively impacting my life. There was a lot of mindless spending on a daily basis that indeed was inhibiting me from paying off my debt. I took for granted my “fixed” income and my “fixed” payments and used the rest of my money without overthinking on its impact.
I would tell myself that I wanted to save $200 at the end of the month, but when the month ended, I had zero money in my bank account. It didn’t take long for me to see that that was not a sustainable way of living. I wasn’t reaching any of my goals. I wasn’t happy with my spending habits.
I started embracing my reality and intention that I still was avoiding. It was easy for me to donate or sell my belongings, but it was harder not to replace them. I started to do small shopping bans like staying off of Amazon or only spending what I had in my wallet for a day, week or month. These little gestures really helped to have enough money to pay my bills.
For 2019, I really want to align my finance actions with my real value. This starts with having a conversation and writing about my intentions. My husband knows my plans and having someone who is understanding to your needs is excellent. I have no problem asking questions about money and researching about how to save. I thank him for that gift.
After realizing how I was spending and being comfortable with the idea of money. I started to take stock of the big money picture. I think that’s one of the scariest parts of personal finance and it has taken me a while to comprehend. I still continue to struggle with acknowledging the state of my money flow without judgment. I just know you have to start and I do see that I am getting better with paying attention to my spending and income. It only takes time and understanding that it’s not going to be perfect and it will never be perfect.
For me taking stock means logging into all of my accounts and writing down what the balances, both the positive or negative. The big picture is not about feeling good or bad about your situation. It’s especially hard if it’s a negative experience to log in and seeing all the negatives and zero numbers, but it’s not about just looking at the numbers. It’s looking at all the different accounts that you have and making peace with your current situation.
You just have to review it. When I took stock of all the accounts that I have, the next thing I thought of is what can I get rid of to save money. It’s not just about paying off debt right away, but how many accounts or subscriptions do you have that you don’t even use.
I try to have as few accounts as possible. I’m all for whatever works for you, but I think it’s easier to have fewer accounts. It makes my life more straightforward in my budgeting process. It’s just fewer things to track or to manage. It makes sense for me and my time and to not get overwhelmed by so much information that I am just trying to comprehend for the first time.
One of the biggest mistakes I make and guilty of so many times this year is mindlessly spending without keeping track of where my dollars are going. I know that this isn’t the most fun topic or the most fun task to think about but tracking my spending is essential. Not only does it open my eyes to my behavior with money but it gives me a small moment to check in to see if it aligns with my intention.
I do weekly check-ins. I look at all of the numbers and ask myself does it align with my goals and my value. If not, I ask what I can do for next week and really understand why I didn’t meet these goals. Keep things simple when doing this type of check-in and have it fit your daily flow. I do it Monday morning. I make coffee, I sit down, and I log into all of my accounts. I track my spending and then I double check all the balances on my accounts.
There are things you can do if you’re unhappy with what is happening to your accounts and cash flow. It helps me stay focus by taking small steps and trying to figure out what my goal is for the following week. I find I am slowly changing my mindset from I am “ok” to know precisely what I need to know about my finance and it feels good to see the progress that aligns with what I really want.
One of my favorite things about personal finance is that it’s personalized to you, so everyone’s numbers and decisions are going to look different. There is no judgment in that it’s just figuring out what makes you happiest what you’re okay with spending money on and then getting rid of everything else.
The things I spend money on I try to make sure those expenditures align with my values. The biggest question I ask myself and my final tip is before you make a purchase or pay off a bill, ask when or not it is worth your time to invest. After my basic needs are met, time is the most valuable resource.
I keep this question as a fundamental practice when making any decisions of spending. “Do I actually want to spend money on this item and it is worth my time to pay it off? “
I hope this makes some kind of sense to you. Again, I am new to understanding money, so if you have any advice, please share. I would love for all of us to pay down debt and live a more fruitful life in 2019.
Happy New Years!