February 26, 2021•1,048 words
#100Days (Day 7/100)
Did you click that headline hoping to learn a secret method for obtaining financial independence in only 30 minutes? Well, I tricked you. I took advantage of basic human nature and your desire for a quick fix. Sorry.
Unfortunately, we live in a "microwave society" and we all want instant gratification. I get it. If only it were really that easy. But here's the truth about my click-bait headline...
We all struggle at times with money. Some more than others. There are many factors at play such as income, skill level, education, societal pressures, who you surround yourself with (that's a BIG one), mental attitude, and many more. So many people today are literally living paycheck-to-paycheck and can't survive a small financial emergency. I've been there and I get it.
Remembering back to when I first got married, I was a student making only $4.25 per hour working a job at the college I was attending. I knew next to nothing about budgeting, getting out of debt, or investing. Let me tell you, times were tough! We argued and fought a lot about money our first year together as a married couple. But eventually, we started doing the things in this article, and our financial situation began to change for the better.
Our turning point was seeing an infomercial on TV for the "Charles J Givens Financial Library" and deciding to attend a free seminar. That's a topic for another post. But suffice it to say, it was the best thing we ever did because it got us working together and put us on the correct path to financial wellness.
My point is this... If you're going to improve your financial situation, you have to start somewhere, and you must take consistent daily action toward your goals. One of my favorite quotes is:
"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got."
So let’s start now to create some positive changes in your financial life.
What I'm suggesting doesn't have to be any more difficult or painful than simply spending about 30 minutes every day doing something different. If you make a handful of very minor course corrections in your life now, the effect on your financial future will be staggering.
Here are a several things you can start doing right now...
Spend 30 minutes per day educating yourself about money
Take some time each day to pour some knowledge into your brain by reading money oriented books, websites, magazines, listening to podcasts, radio shows, or watching documentaries.
The more you understand about money and how it works, the more empowered you will be to take control of it. If you are “financially ignorant”, then money is going to control YOU vs YOU controlling your money.
Spend 30 minutes per day, for at least 1 month, tracking your spending
Here's another useful quote I learned from Corporate America:
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."
This is as true about your money as it is anything else. How are you going to get a handle on your personal finances, get out of debt, get on a budget, and start a successful investing plan if you have no idea where all your money is going?
So start tracking every penny you spend for a period of at least 30 days. Get a small notebook, or use your smartphone if you prefer. But each time you purchase something, anything, write it down. I don’t care if it’s a pack of gum and a bottle of water at the gas station -- record it!
This should only take a few seconds each time you spend money. Throughout the entire day, the time spent recording your spending habits should total no more than 30 minutes.
I think you’ll find this to be a very eye-opening experience as you start to discover where all your pennies (and dollars) are going!
Spend 30 minutes per week organizing and categorizing your financial transactions
This one sort of goes hand in hand with tracking your spending habits for 30 days. Organizing and categorizing your transactions is going to finally give you a really solid picture of the inflows and outflows in your life. This is a critical step in creating a budget as well, since a budget is based on the flow of money into and out of your bank account.
It may sound daunting at first, all this categorizing and organizing, but it doesn’t have to be. Believe me, I’m lazy! I’m also a big advocate for working smarter, not harder. For that reason, I recommend tools that make your life simpler, not more complicated.
I cannot think of a better tool than You Need a Budget (YNAB). It is hands down the BEST money management & budgeting software I've ever used. And believe me, I've tried a few! Quicken, Mint, Mvelopes, etc... None of them can hold a candle to YNAB.
Some days I literally believe YNAB has the ability to make extra money appear in our checking account. It's like magic. 🤑
But seriously, YNAB is awesome. It's basically an electronic envelope budgeting system, and it uses zero-based budgeting. In other words, you budget every dollar you have, and no more, to your various categories, and then you spend from those categories. Sounds simple, right? It is, but it's a mental shift and takes some getting used to. But once you get it, your life will change forever.
I plan to write a much more in-depth review of YNAB later. But for now, I invite you to check it out using my referral link: You Need a Budget (YNAB)
You'll get a FREE 34-day trial which is more than enough time to discover the power of the system. They have an amazing team at YNAB, and their training is top-notch. All the training is free and will walk you through exactly how to get setup and using YNAB successfully.
I've been using YNAB for about 15 years, since back in the day when it was an Excel spreadsheet. So I know a thing or two about it. 😎 If you have questions, feel free to reach out via the contact info on my About page.