Taking control of your money and being self-sufficient is an incredibly freeing thing. Especially for those of us who are still in that in-between stage where we’re expected to be adults but still vaguely understand how to file our taxes. That’s what tax preparers are for, right?
Let’s face it. I’ve always been an incredibly frugal person. Cutting corners and purchasing the cheaper option was my go-to for a really long time. I’ve spent a lot of time over-analyzing my bank account and creating budgets on top of budgets to feel secure. Rarely would I allow myself to spend on myself, and if I did — yup, you guessed it: I’d go the cheaper route. In the end, I’d end up losing track of my budget plan and spending way too much on unnecessary things.
So how do we combat this and take control of our money?
Simple. It takes a little bit of time and tons of tweaking, but follow these steps and you will find yourself in a better place financially in just a couple of months!
Understand your debt, and create a long-term plan to combat it
Most of us who just graduated from college know debt very well. It would be incredibly nice to just ignore our debt and hope nothing happens, but unfortunately, that’s not reality. Neglecting to pay your debts, whether that be credit cards, loans, etc., will put you i
n a worse condition than you are currently in. As great as loans and credit cards are to build our credit, we still need to be incredibly vigilant of our accruing debt.
My biggest recommendation to take control of your
money is to limit your debt first. I understand that this is not something that all of us can do at once, but it is definitely something that we should prioritize to do over time.
First, you want to create a plan of attack. Figure out how much you have accrued in debt. From there, start small and work your way up. For example, if you have $2,000 in credit card debt, $12,000 left on your car title, and $25,000 in student loans you will want to start with the credit card first then work your way up.
Rather than just paying the minimum for your smallest debt, create a budget that revolves around the timeframe you want to have that debt paid off by. During this time, you will want to still put money towards your other debts, but prioritize the smallest one first to help ease the burden.
Quick tip: Before signing up for a credit card, know how much the interest rate is. Many companies like Mattress Firm and Best Buy offer financing specials where you don’t pay any interest rates for the first 6 to 12 months.
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Be aware (and realistic) of your monthly expenses
A huge reason as to why I would always crash and burn with my budget plans was because I wasn’t being realistic. Not only was I not being realistic but I would also give myself little to no money for miscellaneous spending. For me, that would mean getting gas, treating myself to get my nails done, things like that. Instead, I would round up my bills for those two weeks and put everything else into my savings.
Yeah, it was nice seeing my savings bump up but it would start going down and down by the time those two weeks reached to a close. Why? Because by not being realistic about my actual spending, I would be forced to take money out of my savings and sometimes even overdraft. Which would almost always be accompanied by pesky fees.
To combat this, you will need to know how much money you have coming in and how much money comes out during that period of time. This is what will take a bit of time to perfect.
When you first start considering paying off your debt(s) and taking control of your money, you will want to track your total spending for about three months before even thinking about restricting yourself. Tracking your spending will help you figure out exactly where your money is going and what can be done to increase the amount going towards your savings and decrease the amount going towards miscellaneous items.
Without tracking, you won’t know where to start! Give yourself time to figure out where all that money is going and what is going to work best for you and your end goal.
Quick tip: Depending on what you’re looking to pay off, or alternatively, save up for, you will want to adjust your plan of attack accordingly. Look at what other people are doing, but also put into practice what you know will ultimately work best for you.
Reduce impulse shopping by distinguishing your wants and needs
When I was living at home, a lot of my money would go to unnecessary spending like aimlessly walking around Target and TJ Maxx or eating out after doing groceries (!!!).
Looking back, I realize how much money I would actually spend. It used to be hard for me to spend under $200 a paycheck on myself… yeah. Clearly, no money management going on there!
This unnecessary spending was caused by not tracking my money and allowing myself to give in to impulse shopping.
Our obsession with stores like Target and TJ Maxx are all fun and games until we look at our bank account.
Yup, been there do not want to go back.
Whenever I’d get bored, I would go to the store and just look around. More often than not, I would end up purchasing random things to just then realize that I could have used that money towards something I did actually want.
Quick tip: Make a list of what your wants are and keep going back to that list every couple of days or even weeks. Cross off what you’ve realized you can do without, or what can be pushed for a later event. Ask yourself, What could I use X for? Would I use it daily? Can I wait and find a better alternative? Rinse and repeat until you have the means to spend on that item.
Have a positive mindset about your money
I’ve talked about manifesting on my blog before and I’m going to mention it in this post, too.
Take a moment to reflect on how you view money. Be honest with yourself. Do you see money as bad? Do you worry about money? How do you talk about money, in a positive or negative way?
Although small, the way we think about money is important. If we were taught to have negative connotations about money, then the likelihood is that we will grow up feeling that way. Instead of thinking money is bad, remind yourself that money is great. The amount you have is enough and will help build a strong platform for even more money in the future.
Rather than looking at this as woo woo, give me a moment to explain.
If we think about money in a negative light, then we are closing ourselves off from the opportunity to make money. Having a positive and open mindset about money will subconsciously make you more aware of certain matters that pertain to money.
Get yourself in the habit of repeat mantras like these daily: I attract money. Money comes to me easily and in abundance. I am a money magnet.
By doing so, you are rewiring your mind to see money in a positive light and when a situation revolving money comes your way, you will be able to handle it better and towards your favor.
Whenever a favor would be asked of me at work, I would push my priorities to the side and do what they asked from me. I quickly realized this was coming in the way of my own job and in turn, how I made my money. The last thing I would want is to jeopardize my own job, so I had to learn how to prioritize my time better and recognize when I’ve taken on too much.
When I began to notice that I had nasty connotations towards money, like seeking fulfillment from the satisfaction that is swiping our card, I was able to work towards changing these habits. Taking small initiatives like choosing cash over card or buying things for the apartment based on necessity i.e. toilet paper, dish soap etc. helped me take note of where my money is going and where it should be going.
Positive affirmations helped in transforming my restricting mindset on money.
Over time, you will become more aware and open to bringing money into your life in a positive and healthy way. Whether that is getting a raise or simply creating a realistic budget plan, our outlook on life impacts us way more than we think it does.
Quick tip: Go around your home and look at what you have. Take a moment to appreciate your cup of water, your bed, your couch, the food in your fridge. These are all things to be grateful for and allow you to realize what your needs really are.
With these tips, I hope you now feel ready to conquer the world! Remember, this takes time, practice, and understanding.
Time to create a realistic budget and to adjust the way we view money.
Practice to understand what works for someone else, may not work for you.
Understanding that the more you work towards something positive, the easier it will become.
Slaving away hours towards a paycheck can become extremely exhausting and cause us to question everything. But by being aware of why (whether that is to become financially free or adopting a new money mindset) you will get there in no time!
Be good to yourself and keep these steps as a reminder for whenever you’re feeling a bit stuck.
Go make your money, you deserve it!