To be totally honest, financial management has not been my forte. My close confidants would say it’s been about as graceful watching me get my finances together as watching a dog ice-skate for the first time. I have gone from an intern earning nothing, to marketing manager earning six-figures, to mixologist figuring out her life earning somewhere in the middle. And through all of those transitions I managed to save essentially nothing .
I learned that it’s not necessarily about how much money I make, but first and foremost how savvy I am with the daily habits that create long-term security and wealth.
Though I’m still in the awkward early stages of understanding how to become financially savvy, I have picked up helpful habits along the way that have made this journey a fun one. If I can do it, you definitely can too. Here are the small steps that built my foundation:
Get resources that motivate you
If you’re anything like me, budgeting is a scary, annoying word that only exists to tell you how many cups of coffee you can buy from your favorite shop. But fear not, budgeting can actually be fun with apps and budget sheets that help you get organized in a way that’s personal to you. Here are my favorites:
- Designed for the “entrepreneurial gangster”
- Broken up into four categories: Financial Goals, Monthly Budget Sheets, Freelance Project Sheets, and Odds and Ends and Gangster Thangs (which includes groceries and donations).
- Filled with encouraging and humorous messages on every page to make the treacherous task of budgeting enjoyable.
The Mint App
- Tells you your credit score, what factors affect it, and how you can raise it
- Sets up automatic payment reminders so you always pay bills on time
- Shows you real-time charts of where you’re spending so you can adjust as needed
- Access to the Mint blog, which provides tips and tricks from how to choose investments wisely to how to travel consciously
Give a portion of your monthly income away
Each time I give to an organization I believe in, it is a declaration to myself that I have more coming in. That my money doesn’t own me, and regardless of how much I’m earning, I can still make an impact somewhere. It also has bred peace of mind that the awkward tension of maturing financially doesn’t last forever. You can give anywhere: non-profits, conferences, hospitals, churches, or a friend who’s in need.
Last month my friend moved to New York City, so I bought a few rounds of cocktails to celebrate. Because it was a nicer place, it took up my week’s budget for giving. Something like this would have previously caused so much stress. But now that I know I have money allocated for it every week, it’s no biggie. I can choose how I want to spend that money and who I want to impact with it. No shame in having a little fun here! It matters less where you give and more that you do.
Know your “money blueprint”
Your money blueprint is what you have conditioned your mind to do with money. Does it represent freedom for the future? Is it worth saving on small things now so you can take a big vacation at the end of the year? Is it a means to pay bills and fulfill your short-term goals? Money means different things to everyone, and a lot of it stems back to how you were raised.
Growing up, my dad was extremely frugal, and we did all the shopping with my mom. She rarely denied us any purchases, so I adopted the habits I saw from her. I didn’t learn how to budget until I moved to Los Angeles and blew through a few grand in my first month on clothes and food without even realizing my bank account was depleting. It was a rude awakening, but simply understanding what I was conditioned to believe about money helped me untie those habits to create a new, healthier relationship to it.
Discipline and faithfulness, babe
As leaders, entrepreneurs, and women who are going after our version of success, it’s easy to miss the daily choices that create long-term impact. But while I’m learning that writing, eating well, and exercising daily is the way to hit professional and personal goals, I’m discovering the same is true in the realm of finances.
Remember that on the opposite side of discipline lies true freedom.
You won’t miss the few impulse purchases that you deny yourself as much as you will enjoy the peace of mind and confidence that comes with the territory of financial stability.
Though it can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable tidying up your financial situation, remember you have to start somewhere. A lot can happen when you simply show up. Start with the right resources, remember you can still make an impact with what you have, understand how you spend money, and choose the discipline to get yourself where you want to be. You’ve got this!
Photos by: Karen Marie Co.