According to a new workplace study, two in five Americans dream about the day they can tell their boss they quit! Does that sound like you?
Whether you are in a corporate, nonprofit, entrepreneur, or a stay at home environment, there are no easy roles. Any path you choose will require work, time, and money to be successful. Even those Instagram influencers who make it look easy to pay their bills with their brand will admit there's one road map to changing your life, make a budget.
Money and finance can be a significant source of stress. Do you dream of having enough money to live your life to its fullest, while still saving for a rainy day? You can make your dream come true if you're willing to plan and stick to a budget. The truth is your financial health is your responsibility. Out of all of my adulting lessons, creating a well-planned budget is the hardest and most rewarding decision to get unstuck.
With a budget, you see exactly where each dollar you earn is being spent and how much you need to make to fund your dreams. Using a platform like Mint helps you spend less on items that don't fit your life's priorities by pointing out what you might not notice. As a result of paying attention to the details of your life, you have more money to spend on things that really matter to you.
Consider what you could do with $100,000; what would you buy first, what debt would you pay off, and how much would you save for retirement? Allow yourself to see your financial future differently than it is today.
If you think that staying on a budget is severe, you may be pleasantly surprised. It's easier than you think. When you plan your budget carefully, you create the right mix of spending and saving to support you in the pursuit of your dreams.
"You must act as if it is impossible to fail."
- Ashanti proverb
How to Plan Your Personal Budget
Contrary to popular belief, planning a budget allows you to enjoy more of the fun things in life. Take time to envision what you want out of life. Some believe that sticking to a budget is a distraction from life's adventure and spontaneity. An accurate budget, however, ensures that funds are available for your next vacation as well as planned expenses. Barbados, anyone?
The first step in creating your budget is to get organized and collect the things you'll need. You'll need your bank statements, bills, and information about how much cash you have available. It's also helpful to know how much you're spending on necessities like childcare, food, and gasoline.
The budget you create can be as simple as a handwritten document or small spreadsheet on your computer so you can share with your spouse, roommate, or friend. There's plenty of options for apps from like Mint. The important thing is that you use consistently to track what you spend and keep your financial life organized.
Change doesn't happen overnight. To make a plan for your budget, consider setting weekly goals, and setting a standing weekly appointment with your accountability partner to take steps in stages:
Week One: Clarify Your Vision-- What are your plans for the future? Try the week of possibilities from my book, Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward and write down what you want from your life and career in one place to create your goals.
Journal questions to guide you through week one:
- What are your needs, and what are your wants?
- If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you do with the capital?
Week Two: Get the facts-- Make a list of your financial accounts and current balances. Consider your retirement, investment accounts as well as your checking and savings. How much money do you have right now in cash? How much credit are you using? Take the opportunity to sort and review your documents and note your interest rates and terms.
Journal questions to guide you through week two:
- What is your best case scenario when it comes to your finances?
- What would it take for you to not worry about money?
Week Three: Know what you owe-- Take a deep breath and make a list of bills and reoccurring expenses. Include membership dues, insurance fees, and incidentals. Don't let fear keep you from getting a clear picture of your priorities. You can't fight an enemy you aren't willing to acknowledge. What are you spending your money on? Who do you need to pay by when?
Journal questions to guide you through week three:
- What would it take to make your best case scenario true?
Week Four: What's next for you?-- Where can you spend less and cut back on your expenses? You'll have to evolve your relationship with money to put your financial plan into action. Sit down with your stakeholders and negotiate. Once you have a full picture of what cuts you'll need to make, take time to reflect on your goals and what you'll gain by spending less. Make a list of what you want to save for, kids college tuition, a luxurious vacation, new housing, and your transportation goals.
Journal questions to guide you through week four:
- What would I do with my time if I didn't have to worry about money?
When you know what you want and where you're going financially, you can create a plan to help you get there. Don't be afraid to dream big and budget for joy.
Using a Budget to Meet Goals
We are more likely to remember what we write down. To achieve your financial goals, break your ultimate goal down into a series of smaller goals to keep from getting overwhelmed. Motivate yourself by crossing off items on a list as you achieve each weekly step.
Also, remember that it's okay to adjust your budget. Embrace learning and fail forward. You don't have to do everything correctly from the beginning. The effort to get your finances under control takes time and can lead to more financial security in the future if you stay organized, consistent, and adjust your budget as you go.
Plan your budget with your significant other if you have one. Ensure that the budget you create supports the pursuit of the things that are important to both of you. A step-by-step plan for your financial future together is more fruitful if it's a joint goal-setting effort.
Track your spending, commit to a plan that supports your financial goals, and remain flexible. Your first budget may need tweaks, but that budget is the first step to the financial freedom and peace of mind you deserve.
Remember my affirmation: No breakdowns, only breakthroughs!
Set an affirmation to stay positive and focused on your goals, here are the statements that help me.
I am attracting more resources to cover my expenses and save for my future.
I am confident in my financial plan with goals for home ownership, debt reduction, and wealth transfer.
I trust my team of advisers to help me navigate my financial goals.
Was this article helpful? For more exercises like this one, you can join my tribe by subscribing to my mailing list with insights on success and finding your purpose in life. Check out my book, Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Moving Your Career Forward for the story of how one woman found the time and energy to overcome the battle for advancement in corporate America.
As an author, speaker, and mom I share the unwritten rules and the advice of my mentors to evolve your dream job into your dream life, taking control of your time and designing a set of values to lead you onward. Subscribe to the mailing list and receive article like this in your inbox. Follow me on LinkedIn!