Author: Alex Harvey, Money Coach
Money can either make you miserable or help support the realisation of your deepest dreams. – Bari Tessler
If managing a student income wasn’t hard enough, meet Rona. Rona’s here to shake up what you thought you knew and give you a good dose of uncertainty about the future.
But it’s not all doom and gloom!
While it’s perfectly normal to endure tough periods and economic downturns, post-Rona, we have the opportunity to pick up the slack in areas of our lives where we weren’t taking the greatest care or focusing our attention.
You might think you’re currently worse off financially because of this pandemic. But what if it could actually empower you to change the way you looked at and managed your money, so that you ended up *better off* in the long run for having learned these skills?
Yes, this could be your big opportunity to get *woke* with your finances and lay the foundation for the future you want, simply through building smart money habits.
In fact, why don’t you *make* this your opportunity to do just that?
Ok, so the problem is, you’re unclear on the amount of money have coming in, whether it covers everything you want and need, and how you can possibly save, when your income is all over the place.
Let’s break this all down a little bit…
Managing your money
The first, most overlooked step of managing your money and feeling great about it is creating your compass, aka *knowing where you want it to go*.
This is oh so important!
If you simply create a budget right now with no real thought about whether it reflects your goals and values – you’ll feel accomplished after doing it, but probably *never look at the damn thing again*.
Because more important things will come up in your life and fight for your attention, passion and motivation. And then what happens? Money continues to cause stress in your life and holds you back from what you want, rather than helping you get closer to your dreams and goals! Now that is a tragedy.
So, how do we avoid this? How do we make money management something we care about for more than 10 minutes, enough to consistently use an actual budget or system we’ve put in place?
We develop our budget based on what we care most about it!
Step numero uno is to create your compass (aka determine your goals and values).
These are your goals and values, money completely aside:
What do you value most? What’s most important to you in life?
What goals do you have within the next year?
What midterm or longer-term goals do you have in life?
And then you can ask yourself, do any of these require money? And if so, which ones can I build into my budget right now?
Maybe one of your top values is ‘community’, and you realise it would bring you epic joy to cook a meal for your friends once a fortnight, or have everyone over for tea and biscuits (once Rona has settled down a bit and it’s legal, of course)… and so you can build that into your budget.
Your budget may be pretty tight right now. And that’s ok. You can still usually find ways, even if small, to make money-related decisions that are aligned to what’s currently most important to you.
And even if don’t feel you can save towards your goals right now, the act of defining them and defining the money you’ll need to meet them will empower you to tweak your budget accordingly when your circumstances change.
Now your budget is something that’s getting you excited! It’s fun. It’s linked to what matters most to you.
The second step is to use your compass to put together a money plan and find *your number*.
Ok, so now that you’ve defined your goals and values (aka compass), you need to start putting numbers together!
You can start out with a rough budget, but you know what’s even easier?
Tracking all of your money for 30 days.
Everything you earn or receive, and everything you spend. Write down every single transaction; what it was (ie groceries, Uber Eats, phone) and how much you spent.
Once you’ve recorded 30 days’ worth of transactions, you can see exactly where your money went in a single month. You can then choose if you want your spending habits to remain the same or take a different path – aka one that is more aligned with your values and goals.
But you don’t stop there – you then keep doing this every month! And that’s the next step.
The third step is to work the plan, and track track track.
Now you have a money plan, you have to actually use it, otherwise having one is honestly useless!
What you want to do is keep tracking your money and then compare your spending against your budget. Where did you stray? Is your budget realistic? Do you need to make adjustments? Do you actually need to earn a little more?
And that’s powerful!
Do you need to earn more or spend less?
The power of this process is that it gives you really tangible answers.
Rather than saying ‘OMG, the world is collapsing, I’m not earning enough and I need more! I can’t cope I’m just going to watch Netflix for a bit and then work it out’.
You can say ‘Oh, my shortfall right now is $100/ week. How can I earn an extra $100/ week?’.
Boom. All of a sudden, making some extra money becomes tangible. Now you can set your mind towards working out how to earn $100/ week.
Just trust me, knowing the exact number makes a really big difference!
And my friend, that’s how you get started.
One step at a time.
(Psst. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed or you’d like a hand, click here to check out my pre-made money planner & tracker – literally changes lives and it can change yours too).
So when are you going to sit down and first work out your compass (goals & values)?
Put it in your calendar! Or even better yet, why not do it right now?
As Bari Tessler says “Money can either make you miserable or help support the realisation of your deepest dreams.”, so why not support the realisation of your deepest dreams?
About Alex Harvey