Congratulations on taking the first step towards a brighter financial future: admitting you need to make a change!
This series will walk you through, step-by-step on how to get control of your money, budget, save, pay off debt, and give! If you have any questions along the way, feel free to comment on the post or e-mail us at Charles@CAMFinancialCoach.com.
The first phase in CAM’s battle plan is S.T.E.P.
Survey personal finances
Track your spending
Emergency fund started
Pay off all non-mortgage debt
Today we are looking at the first step: Survey Personal Finances. Its all about past, present and future.
SURVEY PERSONAL FINANCES
- Past – Admit You Have Been the Problem
Sometimes this is the hardest part, but you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t realize there needed to be a change.
Let me be honest with you, that change needs to be you. It might be your spending habits, your income, your carelessness with money, or a combination of any or all of the above. Throughout this process you are going to be very tempted to come up with excuses on why you can or can’t do things or will try to justify why you can do things differently, but let me tell you right now, that won’t work!
You have to be committed to this journey 100% and if you aren’t willing to make sacrifices to win this financial war, then you will lost. The enemy will be the victor.
So the first part of this step, is admitting to yourself, your spouse (if you are married), God, and/or a person you trust to be an accountability partner throughout this process that you have a problem and you are ready to change. You need to have someone you are accountable to, someone you can admit your failures and your successes, someone that will encourage you and walk beside you. You need to feel comfortable enough with them to be able to say, “Hey, I’m not perfect and my finances show it, but I’m making changes to make a better future.”
It seems like a simple, even unnecessary step, but its critical to get in the right mindset for everything following. Once you have found an accountability partner and have admitted that the enemy has been beating you down and you are ready to turn this war around, its time to move on.
2. Present – Evaluate Your Current Situation
Before you can figure out where you want to be, its important to know where you came from and where you currently stand.
Take out a piece of paper and pen or type this in an email to yourself: list all income sources, all debts, all monthly expenses that you can think of right now.
You should know what your income is, but if not, look at your bank statement from last month to look at all of the deposits. This should include all paychecks, disability, social security, pension payments, etc. The only thing I would not include here is child support as that is not guaranteed.
Even if you are pretty sure you know what all of your debts are, you should pull your credit report just to make sure there isn’t anything lurking from your past. You can request a free report once a year from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Credit Karma is another great resource that will pull and monitor your credit report from 2 agencies. You should have a list of your debt including current balance, minimum payment, APR, length of loan/payoff date.
Now, list everything you think you spend money on each month. Here is a list of things you might be spending money on. Do your best to guess what you spend on these right now.
- Car Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Eating Out
- Household/Cleaning Products
- Pets – Food and Care
3. Future – Set Some Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Perhaps one of the more important things you can do to really ensure you stay motivated throughout your journey is to dream!
First set some short-term goals. Where would you like to be in 6-months? In 1-year? In 5-years? Keep these goals to the next 5 years or less. Do you want to be debt free? Have a paid-for house? Or maybe you just want to have the ability to buy what you want knowing that you won’t have to sacrifice groceries for the next month.
This journey is all about freedom, winning the war for financial freedom. Make no mistake, you are in a war and if you allow the enemy to continue to win, there will be casualties. Maybe your marriage, maybe you will lose your house or car, maybe worse. But its never too late, remember that!
Now, I want you to really dream. Set at least 1 long-term goal. Something that maybe you’ve always wanted but never thought you could get to.
Here are some examples of long-term goals set by other people:
“To be a millionaire by the time I retire.”
“To own at least 20 paid-for real estate investments.”
“To spend my retirement traveling the world.”
“To completely fund all of my kids’ college careers so that they don’t start off life with debt.”
These are just examples, so make sure to really make them your own. My husband’s goal is to retire nearly 10 years early at 55 and to have 2 million in retirement alone by the time he gets there. My dream is to own an equestrian property with several acres.
Once you free yourself from debt and learn to really start making your money work for you, dreams and goals like this become not only possible but attainable.
Whatever goals you set, make them visible in your home or office or wherever you will see them often. Some people put them on their fridge or in their bedroom. Some people make vision boards. Do whatever will work for you. Its important to constantly be reminded why you are making sacrifices now: to have a better future for you and your family.
Congratulations on finishing the first step in phase 1! Onto step 2: Track Your Spending!