Hey & Happy New Year! By now you probably have received many emails from your favorite stores with 22% off coupons or 22 to ways to do something from your fav. blogs, think tanks or whatever to bring in 2022. Well, no inbox is complete without a "22 ways" blog from us.
22 ways to strengthen your financial foundation & improve your overall financial health. Let’s get into it shall we:
Mindset is everything! As Karima Mariama-Arthur put it, "It is an important tool that affects our daily self-dialogue and reinforces our most intimate beliefs, attitudes and feelings about ourselves". You have to truly believe you have what it takes to be in control of your money. I have quoted Ramit Sethi before and I am going to again because I believe when he says, “You do not have to be an expert to work on your personal finances”. Because you really do not. You really do have the power to turn your money story around. It does not matter what you weren’t taught in school or by your family or what you wish you knew before that one or twelve bad financial decision(s). You have to decide to build a financial foundation and take on the responsibility to expose yourself to whatever will help you in becoming financially literate.
Be Aware of your Expenses:
I have said it before, you cannot solve your money issues if you do not know what is going on. You must become aware of your overall financial situation. See what you have coming in (your income), what you have going out (your expenses) and write it down on paper.
Be Mindful of your Expenses:
According to SatisfiedSpending.com, Mindful spending is an awareness of how your spending supports your goals, values, and human needs. Mindful spending improves your daily life by routinely shifting the focus from your money to your life. With that being said, be mindful of your spending and make sure it aligns with your goals, values and human needs. Being aware of your expenses will help you become mindful of them as well.
Cut down on your expenses:
Are your expenses supporting your goals, values, or human needs? If whatever your spending your money on is not contributing to your ideal life, stop wasting your time and your money. Cut back where you can and on what you can so you can put that money towards expenses that will support your goals and position you closer to your ideal life.
What do you want out of life? What do you want to accomplish in 2022? Hell, what do you want to accomplish within the next 6 months. In order to make whatever you desire a reality, you have to sow those seeds. How is money going to give you the autonomy and ability to manifest that life. With that being said, become intentional with your actions and your money.
Set SMART Goals:
Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) financial goals for yourself that align with your intentions. Do not just say I want to get out of debt. Instead say, I will get out of $1250 credit card debt in 6 months by paying $105 out of each of my bi-weekly paychecks. That goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. You can and should use this method with any goal you have, i.e. traveling, saving, making a purchase, whatever.
Things are not just going to magically turn around. Your income and expenses on paper should align with whatever intentions and goals you set for yourself. What is that paper called here? A Budget aka your financial success plan. You have to create your plan. Hone in on your budget & tailor it to your situation with your goals and intentions in mind. Remember, this is where sacrifices & difficult conversations with yourself may happen. Learn how to create by reading our "Budget the Bag" blog.
Have an emergency fund:
Please give yourself a buffer between you and financial surprises. Life happens and the happenings usually cost money. I now recommend saving at least $2,000 dollars to give yourself that buffer. $1,000 at least. Don’t keep getting pushed back when something pop up. Build that buffer please. If you need help building an emergency fund, please read prior blog, “How to build an emergency fund”.
Keep it stacked:
Life happens so there will be times you dip into your emergency fund. That is okay! That is why you save. We don't put money in our emergency fund to get rich, we do it to handle emergencies. So, keep it at your desired amount. The recommended amount is 3-6 months of your expenses.
Get Rid of Credit Card Debt:
You should be mindful of debt in general, but the worst debt to me is consumer debt with high interest rates, i.e. your credit cards and store cards. Get rid of that debt ASAP. Being free of credit and store card(s) debt allows that freed up money to go towards your financial goals.
Pay your bills on time & in full:
Paying your bills on time is an important aspect of taking control of your financial life. Knowing when your bills are due and making a habit of paying them by the deadline can reduce your stress, save you money, boost your credit score, and enable you to get lower-interest credit in the future. Also, when you pay your bills on time you will not be charged a late fee or penalty, which can be as high as $35, that's just a waste.
Remember what you want:
Remember why you are doing this to stay motivated. You are going to get discouraged, you may have to start over, you may even make a mistake, but remember what you are working towards and why you are doing it. You got this!
Invest in yourself:
You are your most important asset. Investing in yourself will not only increase your wealth, but also your joy, which is, in my opinion, the greatest "wealth". Investing in yourself always pays off. Take that course, watch those "how to" videos, read that book, go to the gym, whatever it is, do it!
Benjamin Franklin once said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. Do not live your days here on earth being miserable, stressed out, and negative. We have no idea the amount of time we have. So, express gratitude, connect with your higher power, eat that cake, wear whatever you want, love on those who love you and laugh a little. We are not making it out of here alive. Enjoy the time God or whoever you believe in have granted you and always trust he got you.
Get a financial coach:
Sometimes having someone in our corner can help us be more accountable. A financial coach can also help you understand the foundational aspects when it comes to managing your money and help you build a better relationship with your money, focus on an actionable plan going forward, and develop positive, practical, life-long financial habits. I would love to be your financial coach if you will have me. You can sign up here!
Self reflect/personal finance is a chore
At the end of the day, week, or once a month, self reflect on your progress. How are you doing, what can you tweak, what do you want to increase, what is stressing you out, and etc. Personal finance is a routine task. Check in once awhile and make the proper adjustments.
Set up different accounts:
At the very minimum you should have a checking and a savings. Outside of those two accounts, I do recommended having one or two different accounts for different goals, which you can take with a grain of salt. I just do not want you to over-extend yourself here and have so many different accounts that you cannot fund them and ultimately you do not reach your goals and become stressed and bummed out. So please do what you can handle. I know some people have a "fuck you money" account or "Down payment for my house" account, I personally have an "Advancing the Kingdom" account. Like I aforementioned, I do recommended having one or two different accounts for different goals, just do not over-extended yourself
Rather it’s for passive income or retirement (hopefully both), invest. Investing secures present and long term financial security. If you are not into cherry picking stocks, you can invest in mutual funds, index funds, or ETFs or all of them. For retirement you can contribute to a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan or invest in a traditional or Roth IRA. If you want to know where you can invest $1 look at my prior blog, “Invest? I’m Broke”.
Keep on keeping on:
KEEP on working at your goals. As you accomplish your goals, add new ones. You may be able to do some of your goals simultaneously and some you may not. You may have to stay at one thing before you can move onto the next. THAT IS OKAY! Keep on keeping on. Remember what you are working towards. Personal finances is just that, personal. Becoming financially secure is a process. Even when it feel like you are just chipping away at this gigantic iceberg you call your financial situation, remember, slow motion is better than no motion. These small practical habits will manifest themselves and create long term change. Denzel Washington once said, If you hang around the barbershop long enough, sooner or later, you are going to get a haircut, meaning sooner or later, you will accomplish whatever you are working towards as long as you keep focusing and working on it.
Don’t get overwhelmed:
Do not get so wrapped into the fact you are not saving a lot or you’re moving too slow. As I said two seconds ago, slow motion is better than no motion. This is your own path and will not look like anybody else's. You got this. Take a breather and keep on going.
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals:
You know that saying, if you hang out with 4 poor people, you will be the fifth. WHY? Because we are bound to adapt where we spend most of our focus and energies. We will become complacent and boom, now we are poor. No, but seriously, the people we surround ourselves with are the biggest influence on our behavior, attitudes and results. Who you are around, what they’ve got you thinking, saying, doing and becoming, sets the course of your life - now boom you are poor. Please surround yourself with like-minded individuals, get a mentor, look up to someone who is already living your ideal life.
Teach and learn for yourself:
This is your life. You hold the pen to your story. Keep learning and reading about personal finance to become more efficient with your finances to fuel your dreams and accomplish your goals. You can watch Youtube, I personally love the Minority Mindset channel & Investing with Rose. You can keep reading blogs, like ours and so many others. I highly recommend reading “I will teach you to be rich” by Ramit Sethi, The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated, and You are a badass at making money by Jen Sincero.
You got this! You are capable. Make 2022 the year you improve your overall financial health! You know we are here to help if you need us. In love and wealth - Si