I’d like to share something with you: the worst thing that has ever happened to you financially has probably already happened. That thing will never, ever happen again.
I’d like to share something else with you: you have all the skills and resources at your fingertips to manage your money wisely and reach your financial goals – even if you’ve made expensive mistakes in the past. You can repair the situations where damage has occurred and shift your attention to achieving your goals.
My name is Kelley Nayo-Jahi, and I lead Community Development at Landed. Prior to joining the company, I spent 10 years as a mompreneur. One of my superpowers is teaching entrepreneurs how to create thriving ventures, through a business accelerator called Uptima; in the course of my 6-week class, one of the lecture topics I cover is “Money Matters.” For small business owners, it is critical to pay close attention to both their professional and personal finances.
What I’ve discovered over years of teaching this subject matter is that the basic principles are the same, whether we’re managing finances for small businesses or our family members. We need to create financial goals, pay attention to our money, and use tools that help ensure success.
Managing money is not quite as complex as people imagine it to be. The challenge is that many of us were not taught how to approach our finances. In the absence of formal financial education, we make it up as we go along, and sometimes we don’t achieve the success we’re hoping for. Our past financial mishaps can affect our ability to feel confident about moving forward on our financial journey.
So, what’s the best way to move forward?
- Discover what you want to do with your money.
Define your financial goals for yourself. Close your eyes for a few moments, and think of all the things you want to do. They don’t need to be rational or realistic; some of it might seem downright impossible. In spite of that, allow yourself to dream. After two or three minutes of dreaming, take out a sheet of paper and write down everything that came to you. Every single thing. It can be anything from repaying a debt to traveling around the world. Write it all down.
Take another look at the list. Attach a dollar amount to as many of these things as you can. How much do you think it will cost to do the things that you have listed? Some of the things may not require any money. Other things may require significant amounts of money. The act of writing it down activates the energy you need to do what you want to do. Congratulations – you have taken a huge step toward achieving your financial goals.
- Pick a financial management system and work with it.
Any system that you pick will work if you work with it. I prefer spreadsheets to manage my finances. Some people like paper, pencil, and a calculator. There are also a lot of apps that range from free to expensive. If you use a larger banking institution with robust online access, many of them have apps for their customers that support managing finances.
I promise you that if you identify a system and begin using it on a regular basis, you will experience more ease and grace in your financial life than ever before. Some people check on their money daily, some weekly, and some do it monthly. Whatever you decide to do, just do it. Schedule the time on your calendar, and set aside at least 30 minutes a week to get a handle on what your money is doing.
- Know the difference.
Once you’ve decided on a financial tool, you want to know how much money is coming to you, how much money you are spending, and know the difference between those two numbers. Many of these systems offer far more information, but this is the most basic information you need to know to feel in control of your money. You should have a firm handle on the incoming money – where is it coming from, when, and how much?
You also want to have a firm handle on who is expecting money from you – who is it going to, when, and how much?
Once you have a total on incoming and outgoing, there will be a difference. Sometimes that difference is negative, sometimes that difference is positive. Either way, there is incredible power in knowing what that number is. If it’s a small negative number, you can make minor adjustments in your spending to close the gap. If it’s a big negative number, you can begin to contemplate significant lifestyle adjustments. If it’s a positive number, you can start allocating funds toward one of the things you dreamt about earlier. But to make any of these changes, you’ve got to know the difference.
By taking these steps, you will find your way to achieving your financial goals with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.
You are capable of managing your money and achieving your financial dreams. There are tools that can help you. And your dreams are a lot closer than you imagine.
The homebuying journey starts long before you’re financially ready to buy a home. No matter where you are on that journey, we will work with you to find a path forward. If you are an educator interested in free homebuying guidance, sign up here for more information. You are also invited to attend our free events. We look forward to hearing from you!