I hate to admit it, but for a very long time, my relationship with money wasn’t the healthiest. I went from being blissfully unaware (happily racking up credit card debt spending money when I wanted, where I wanted) to anxiously unaware (getting nervous about all that debt, not knowing what type of shape my finances were in, and not doing anything about it) to pissed off (that I didn’t have a trust fund or a husband who made boatloads of money to support me).
Rather than face my finances head on, I ignored them, which stressed me out and made me feel bad about myself – a total lose-lose. When I finally decided to be an adult and tackle my money situation, I was amazed not only at how painless the process really was, but also by how awesome I felt afterwards. I was confident, secure, and relaxed when it came to my finances and I lost a dress size in the process.
Definitely a win-win.
One of the people who helped me through my money process was KK Fischer – a financial guru dedicated to making managing your money simple, sexy and fun. And let me tell you: she totally hits the mark. By day, she works as a Portfolio Manager at Sand Hill Global Advisors – an investment advisor located in Palo Alto, CA. I’m so thrilled to introduce her as this month’s Blog Babysitter.
One of the many things I love about Sarah is that her philosophy doesn’t just apply to losing weight.
If you’ve been following her for awhile you know she talks about how we as women sometimes “wait on the weight” – holding off on living a beautiful, fun, inspired life until we drop down to our dream size. But we can also be “waiting on our wallet” – holding off on being on top of our money and taking responsibility for our financial future until we’ve got a big paycheck or a fat bank account, or we’re so deep in debt we have no choice but to deal with it.
But just like how you need to first start living your dream life so you can then lose the weight, you need to take control of your finances now so that you can be in the financial shape you want to be in later.
I know getting on top of your finances sounds like a total mind-numbing mountain of a task, but I promise you: it can be painless! And to prove it, I’m bringing you THREE super simple steps to get you started.
None of which involves the dirty B word.
(That would be budget. Yuck!)
1. Know your credit score and clean it up.
If there’s one number you need to know when it comes to your finances, it’s your credit score (a.k.a. your ultimate money-world reputation). Why should you care? A better credit score gets you a better mortgage rate when you’re looking to buy a home (meaning you will pay less money!), better credit card deals (more perks and lower interest rates!), a better deal on an auto loan (again: more savings for you!), and a better chance at snagging that apartment you’re hoping to rent (because landlords will often check out your creditworthiness as well).
But because a reputation takes forever to build and only a moment to lose, it’s important you know yours as soon as possible so you can take steps to either clean it up or maintain it before you really need to use it. To check out your credit score for FREE, visit www.creditkarma.com. (Did you know freecreditreport.com isn’t actually free? They start charging you immediately after the first free report. Those tricksters!) To learn more about credit scores and how to improve them, check out my blog posts here and here.
2. Know where your money goes.
Now while there is nothing I hate more than a b*$@%!, I am absolutely all about knowing exactly where your money gets spent and being intentional about where you spend it. At the end of each month, I take 15 minutes (yes that’s it!) to run a Quicken report of all of my and my husband’s spending aggregated across all of our credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts.
The report shows me how much money we spent in total but also broken into categories: eating out, grocery stores, shopping, gas, etc. Sometimes our spending was exactly as I had expected and I move on, relaxed that I know where our money has been going. Other months I am surprised to see a certain category pop out. For example, for a few months I noticed our Starbucks tab had popped up substantially. Rather than get down about my increase in spending, I took time to think through (1) why that was the case and (2) whether I wanted that to be the case. It turned out that I was feeling unfulfilled and bored in my job at the time and an afternoon trip to Starbucks for a latte and fancy pastry took my mind off the problem. But when I thought about whether I wanted that to be the case, I realized I’d much rather save that money and sneak out for a quick walk one day, call a friend another day and then have plenty of money left over to get a mani/pedi another day. Eventually, I even decided to find a new job which is way more fun and fulfilling (and has brought my Starbucks tab back down to normal). You don’t need to purchase Quicken (although it’s great and super user-friendly!), Mint or your credit card website (which will often aggregate spending for you) can also do the trick. The point is not that you should limit how much money you spend on certain things, rather you should know where you spend it and make sure that is where you want to be spending it!
3. Know what you want.
When it comes to money, we often know we want more of it, but we don’t always have concrete ideas about what we want to do with it. Take some time to think through exactly what you want in your financial future. Do you want to be able to buy a house? How big of a house? How big of a monthly mortgage payment? Do you want to take a big vacation every year? To where and for long? Do you want to have enough money saved so you could stop working for 6 months, a year and stay home with a new baby or try something wild? When do you want to retire? What do you want your lifestyle to be like when you do?
Thinking through what you want from your financial future will help you be intentional about #2 without you feeling like you’re being limited in any way. Let’s say you want to take an awesome trip to the Greek Isles next summer and you need to stash away $200 a month to do so. When you’re debating about buying those new fancy candles you can ask yourself: “Would I rather have these or my trip to Greece?”
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be spending any money on indulgences – au contraire! I just mean that by knowing where your money goes and knowing what you want, you will be able to decide which indulgences are totally worth it (lunch date with the ladies) versus not (sub-par pastry from corner bakery at 3pm).
Want some more help?
I can’t wait to hear from you.
Simple actions to take your life back, know your worth & feel alive no matter how drained, overwhelmed and far gone you feel.