You want to know a secret to financial wellness? The truth is you probably already know what these secrets are, but you’re likely highly underestimating them. We did. For years. And knowing them but not doing them almost ruined us financially.
Everyone wants financial wellness, however few are willing to do what it takes to have it. You may have read about the secret habits of millionaires, but how many of them are you doing? How badly do you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start saving more money?
When are you going to get so sick and tired of being sick and tired that you start doing things differently? When you get to that point, the point where you just can’t take being broke anymore, you have to start with these two things. But first……you have to
Know Your Why
Before I share the hidden gems of financial wellness that will get you on the road to financial independence, you have to know why you want to get out of debt and build wealth.
Why is your “why” important?
Because it will give you the motivation to stick with your plan through setbacks, boredom and temptation. A written list of your whys posted prominently where you can see it daily will remind you of why you are making the sacrifices you make and taking the steps that you take to get financially well.
It will remind you why you are foregoing the “you only live once” lifestyle in search of better things. Your “why” list might have things on it like ours does:
- Because we don’t want to freak out about money anymore; we don’t want it to be our master for even one more day.
- Because we want peace of mind for our family. I personally want it for my hubby, who wants so desperately to be a good provider for this family. He deserves peace because he works so hard.
- Because we want more for our kids. We’ve got the greatest kids ever (next to yours, of course), and we don’t want to ever again have to say “no” because we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to pay the bills.
- Because we don’t ever want to have to say to our kids “We have to move because we’re losing the house”.
- Because we want to be able to give abundantly, wherever, and whenever, the Lord leads us to.
Or your “why” list might be totally different than ours. Think about all of the reasons why you hate being in debt and not having any savings, and make them into a list that will motivate you to stick with your plan to make a better financial life for yourself.
Then, start by doing these very important two things. And before you walk away in disappointment, hear me out on why they are indeed the hidden gems of financial wellness.
Hidden Gem #1
The first hidden gem of financial wellness is called budgeting. Yeah, I know – you’re bored already. For years we tried to live within a budget and for years we never made it through the first week. Budgeting feels boring. Restrictive. But the truth is that learning to live within a budget will set you free.
Because making and living within a budget means you will have the freedom to finally spend your money in ways that are truly, truly important to you.
Let me ask you a few questions.
Are your thrice weekly runs through your favorite fast food drive thru more important to you than financial freedom?
Does that new electronic gadget you bought last week bring you the same joy that no debt and a plush savings account would bring you?
Did that new DVD/sweater/shoe/video game purchase bring you more peace than knowing you aren’t tied to your job for financial reasons would?
I’d be willing to bet that the answer to all three of those questions is a resounding “NO”.
Creating and living within a budget will allow you to allocate your money to go where you want it to go instead of having it piddled away on stupid stuff that really doesn’t bring you any joy. You can set a monthly dollar amount to go toward paying off debt, and another to go toward savings and investments, and even another toward buying stupid stuff. But once you have a plan in place you’ll see your goals being reached and you’ll likely find stupid stuff purchases a lot less enticing.
You’ll start to get a little buzz when you pay that extra money toward your credit card debt, car loan or mortgage. You’ll see your balance dropping faster and faster, and all of a sudden debt free won’t seem so far away. You’ll learn that you CAN reach your goals, and it will motivate you to work even harder at budgeting well.
This is the hidden truth behind budgeting, but most people never get to uncover the gem because they don’t stick with it long enough to find out that hidden truth. But you will be different. 🙂
Hidden Gem #2
The year before Rick and I started our “get out of debt” journey, we “thought” we were spending less money. We had general ideas of what we wanted to spend in each category and thought we were following our guidelines. Then I went back at the end of the year and wrote down everything we’d spent by category and found that we were way, WAY off.
- We thought we are spending “around” $600 a month for groceries; we were spending $900
- We thought we were spending “around” $75 a month on eating out; we were spending $175
- We thought we were spending “around” $150 a month on gasoline; we were spending $275
As you can imagine, all of these hidden overages in spending added up to a lot of debt in a short amount of time. Suddenly, the reason why we couldn’t seem to get ahead financially became crystal clear.
We initially thought we were struggling financially because we just didn’t make enough money, but the truth was that we were spending huge amounts of cash without even realizing it.
How Spend Tracking Changed Our Lives
As with budgeting, it was tough to begin tracking our spending. At first, we’d feel guilty every time we spent money. There was a lot of emotional baggage we were carrying about money that we didn’t even realize.
Once we stopped condemning ourselves for our money situation and started focusing on the “now”, spend tracking became an incredible gift. Here’s why.
Spend Tracking Gives Us an Up-to-Date Picture of our Spending, i.e. No More Money Surprises
This means that there is no chance of looking at stuff at the end of the month and going “Holy buckets! I spent THAT much on going out to eat?” No more surprises in our spending means we have more control over our money.
Spend Tracking Helps Us See Where We Need to Improve
Spend tracking will help you to have a day-to-day analysis of your budget and see where improvements in money management might be needed. When you can look at your chart and see that it’s only halfway through the month and you’ve already spent $300 on clothes, you can learn to reign in your spending and set measures in place to stop the financial leaks.
Spend Tracking Allows us a Clear Picture So that we Can Redirect our Money
When you are tracking your spending, it’s easy to spot wasted money that could be used toward your financial goals. This means you improve the chances of reaching your financial goals.
If you’re viewing budgeting and spend-tracking as mundane, restrictive tasks that take away all of the fun in life, I encourage you to change your perspective on these two financial gems.
Start viewing them as the powerful, wealth building tools that they are and use them to make some serious progress toward your goals of financial freedom.
Have you discovered the gems in budgeting and spend tracking? If not, what’s stopping you from implementing a budgeting and spend tracking plan?