Having failed financially in my own life and mind not once, but three times; I have learned to master your budget takes time, patience, and perseverance. You must be willing to pass over things in the process, so later you can enjoy them to their fullest. I want to share the 3 key elements to success in my financial life that have helped me.
1. Knowing Where You Are (Right Now)
When we are struggling to make ends meet every month, living virtually pay check to paycheck, we are lost with nothing to look forward to. You need to stop and really look at where you are in life. Everything has a beginning (or as I referred to it going through my last failure, an Alpha start.
The Alpha start of where I began to master my budget was simply coming up with three lists and moving forward from that point. These lists were:
- Identify what resources I had right then and there;
- Determine what my ESSENTIAL expenses were each month (or pay period)
- Documenting All OTHER DEBT I had managed to accrue.
2. Setting Purpose – Where Would You Like To Be
Okay, now that you have your lists in front of you – perhaps written down in a single subject notebook – you are feeling a bit overwhelmed. I know, I did. Now you need a reason to continue. This is simply as you are starting out – deciding where you would like to be at a given time period. I remember beginning my journey mid-month, and set my first goal for the beginning of the next month (about two weeks). My goal was to make sure I had money to pay all my ESSENTIALS first, and money to pay the minimums at least for all other debt.
3. Breaking Down the Process – Getting from Now to Then
Well, now I knew where I was for the most part, and had an idea where I wanted to be in two weeks. However, it was too overwhelming to go from one end to the other in one step, and no one could ever be expected to reach their goal in one leap. Suddenly it occurred to me, I had been lost for so long, but at least now I wanted to get back on track. I realized it was important to find a way to bridge the two ends with a few smaller, bite-size, achievable portions. Four or five steps in between is quite adequate.
To begin with, you must ask step back and tell yourself – here I am now, I want to be there. What do I need to do to accomplish that and list out in 4-5 steps what must be done. Once you have 4-5 steps to achieve your end goal, take each step and break that down once more. Make a check list under each step and check off as you complete a task.
4. You Must Celebrate Every Step of the Way
As you complete each step and see the tasks being completed first being a quarter of the way, then halfway through the step, and almost there at three-quarters of the way and finally you are one quarter of the way to your goal. Take time to step back and celebrate the milestone – you have earned it! It could be as simple as treating yourself to a cup of coffee at Dunkin.
When you reach your goal, whether two weeks or a month or more away, take time to celebrate big. Shout and congratulate yourself! You have totally earned it – and perhaps go out to lunch with yourself or a friend to celebrate the occasion.
Once you have celebrated, you are ready to get up the next morning and move forward to plan for your next big milestone goal. Always make sure your goal is attainable and measurable.
Now That You Have the 4 Elements of Success – YOU CAN DO IT!
Always strive in life to keep bettering yourself in every area of your life. Finances are one of the more difficult areas, but once you know how to budget wisely, it will only get easier as time goes on. Just keep reassuring yourself that YOU CAN DO IT!
Budgeting is not easy, as finance and money for the most part was never talked about over the family supper table. Our parents just made sure we had a roof over our head and food in our bellies – as far as many of us were concerned, our families were well-to-do, and that is what they wanted us to think and see. Now we know otherwise as we have matured and learned so it is time to be open with our children and show them it is okay to talk about our vulnerabilities over money and help them to accept what they have and budget their finances wisely – it will go along ways in the end.
Next we will break down each of these steps to further define the art of mastering your budget. The ultimate goal is to eliminate all debt from your life, and save more for your future purchases like our grandparents and their parents did before credit cards.