All this month, we’ve been talking about our fears, those that might even be good for us and those that we’re terrified of coming true. We can give a lot of power to our fears, but any woman who has managed to get away from a creepy harasser, survived terrible dates, traveled solo, or managed to do her own extermination of creatures who have found their way into her home knows how to conquer fear.
Still, I don’t know about you, but almost nothing strikes more terror in my heart than managing my finances. ::insert blood curdling screams::
You ladies who are investment bankers or were just raised by a budget maven who passed those sacred skills down to you: brava. Feel free to leave and go catch up on your Netflix queue or watch this video over and over again because you’re definitely a Nasty Woman who gets things done.
The rest of you, who like me, are better at checking your online bank balance than balancing a checkbook and who are always up for doing the sketchy mental math to ensure that those cute shoes on sale make their way home with you, well, breathe deep and let’s see if, with a little help, we can start conquering this fear.
Somewhere inside of you a tiny voice has said, Let’s get our finances together! But mostly you’ve been ignoring that voice.
Why? And how can we face our financial past?
Gretchen Meyer of Gretchen Meyer Financial says, “People get stuck in their current ways of doing things and get mired in this is my financial situation. It’s deciding that your past is not your future.”
With Gretchen’s expertise, here are five steps to start on a path to a better and happier financial life.
You’re in debt and you’ve been there for awhile. You haven’t contributed to your retirement in years. You save only to deplete it shortly after. You come from a family that has always struggled to make ends meet and you worry you’re facing that same fate. Whatever your financial situation, often we’ve lost hope that it can be any different. Gretchen knows from her work in financial planning exactly how that can happen, “You say to yourself, ‘I already have $15,000 in debt, so what does it matter that I buy this $300 purse?'”And, voila! The vicious cycle continues. Now you have $15,300 in debt. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Believe your situation can be different and then make the decision to do something about it. When you decide, change will happen.
2. Write it down.
Write out your financial goals: what do you really want? Gretchen says you have to change your perspective about your situation, “If you’re always thinking, ‘I don’t want to be in debt,’ then you may be in debt forever. You’re drawing negative energy to you. Instead, think (and journal) about being debt-free. Your brain and energy will be put towards being debt-free.” Gretchen told me this success story about writing goals down: a study of Harvard Business School students found that although the majority of the students had goals, most were fairly ambiguous and not written down. At the end of the ten-year study, the students who wrote down specific goals and tweaked them along the way, on average, earned ten times more, than the rest of the class combined. Write it, do it.
3. Take action.
Begin to come up with a strategy. If you’re paying down your credit card, think twice about what you spend your money on. Ask yourself: what do I want more, the financial goal I’ve set for myself or this new pair of shoes? Gretchen’s clients have a hashtag #whatwouldgretchendo. In situations where they find themselves making less than stellar financial decisions (say, for example, at the designer shoe store), they think, “Hmmmm…What would Gretchen Do?” More often than not, just thinking about the repercussions of what Gretchen would say, guides them to make better financial decisions. A financial advisor can keep you on track with your goals. Also, consider asking a friend, family member, or significant other to be an accountability partner.
4. Make it easy
Take as much stress out of your finances as possible. Can you automate payments to your credit card or your savings? Would it be better if you left your debit card at home and only kept cash on you? The less you have to think about staying on track with your finances, the easier it will be to accomplish your goal.
Every time you stay on track, you leave the purse in the store where you found it or delay that vacation so you can take that money and add to your 401k, celebrate that you made a better choice. You don’t have to live the same financial picture of your family. You can improve your credit. You can save more. You can invest.
Now, that wasn’t so scary was it?
Special thanks to Gretchen Meyer for her financial expertise. Check out more of her resources to help women achieve their financial dreams at http://www.gretchenmeyerfinancial.com/.