How to take greater control of your money

I’ve got a confession to make. I hate dealing with money. When it comes time to look in my bank balance and manage it, I feel a slight sickness in my stomach.

By this I don’t mean looking at how much you’ve got coming in and celebrating (which I hope you’re doing), but I’m talking about tracking, budgeting, making financial goals and planning for the future.

You know I’m big of the law of attraction. You absolutely can create more money by feeling better about it. BUT, the second biggest important thing to creating and keeping more money is to treat it right when it arrives.

I’m learning that the woo woo needs a bit of grounding.

I have a crystal I wear around my neck. It’s a quartz enveloped in red jasper. To me, this represents a firm coupling of the earth and the spiritual realm. In other words, my human experience, or my action, needs to be strong in order for the spiritual, or woo woo to work it’s magic.

Walking through your money fears

Recognising where your fears and unsettled feelings lie is important as it means this is the place you need to take action. You can’t avoid or run from fear, you have to walk through it. Waiting on the other side of fear is growth and the results you want.

You just have to do the work you don’t want to do.

I’ve been walking through that fear and learning how to become a better money manager. I’m setting up systems to manage my money and prepare for my future.

I’m also learning some shocking realisations about how I’ve been treating money! That needs to change pronto or it won’t come a knocking anymore.

The following strategies have taken me several weeks, if not months, to implement. I’m a bit of a turtle. But at least it’s movement forward.

My money management plan

1. Identify money leaks

I discovered a few handy apps recently via a Money magazine I brought. They are  created by ASIC, a government body created to help Australians become financial literate. You don’t have to be Australian to use them. I found the Money Health Check useful in identifying some of my potential money management issues. (They also have money tracker and financial goal setting ones as well. But I prefer to use pen and paper for that)

The red flags they threw up for were:

  1. Superannuation (401k): I kinda knew that one as I’ve spent most of my working life outside of Australia and then having my own business for the past few years has meant I’ve not contributed anything.
  2. Life insurance: Perhaps I’ve been scared Craig will arsenic poison me.
  3. Income protection: I guess I didn’t have much income for so long I never bothered. Ha.

Sorting out a plan for these areas is now on my to do list.

2. Track my money

One of the best ways to identify money leaks is to track your spending and your income.

We’re traveling with some friends we made in Broome at the moment, and Nikki is passing on her love of spreadsheets on to me. Well, maybe not a love for them, but a willingness to embrace them so I can see the bigger picture and make the required adjustments.

Even though I drag my feet to start, I definitely feel more empowered and in control once I’ve finished.

I’m now tracking my money spends daily. At the end of each month I track our personal and business expenses and then have a faint heart attack. I have for the past two months. We went a little crazy in Darwin and Broome. It’s hard not to indulge in urban joys after weeks driving through the dusty, red outback.

I have a year-to-date spreadsheet where I input the monthly totals so I can see in what directions our spending and income are moving in. I feel this really motivates me to spend more consciously so I can fist pump the air each month when the expense goes down. I love a good game against myself.

This is one of 30 strategies you can get access to in my 30 Day Money Cleanse

3. Create a spending plan

Tracking my money helped me to realise that I was walking down a slippery path – ignorance of how you spend money will only lead to a downfall. I’ve always done that as I fear what I’ll see and I fret about having my freedom curtailed.

But, respecting your money is important and ignorance is not bliss. The better you manage, the more freedom you’ll have eventually. I’m glad I’m waking up to this before creating another financial disaster. One per lifetime is enough.

So, we’ve now made some sharp adjustments and cut backs. I’m already feeling a huge improvement and feeling better.

Each month we adjust our budget where needed and set new goals.

Now, when it comes time to spending money, I think about how it aligns with our goals and my values. If it’s not in alignment it’s a no go. Well most of the time. I still struggle with denial on some things: wine, eating out and coffee. Although I am down now to only about 1-2 take away coffees a week and a few glasses of wine a week. It can only be good for my health right?

4. Pay myself first

What a terrible job we do of paying ourselves first. Usually we pay the tax man, then the bills, and then scrape up what’s left over, if there is anything. We have to let money know that we want it to visit and we’re laying out the red carpet for it.

Paying yourself first is the best way to do this.

Make a stand for you and your dreams. When you receive your income, we suggest putting 10% straight into your savings. If you can’t manage 10%, do 5%. Even if it’s only $10 with each pay check, this one simple thing will let the Universe know you’re serious.

This month, Craig and I have set ourselves up as employees of our own business. Our salary is not high, but at least we’re recognising that we deserve to be paid.

5. Create money buckets

I’ve written about this in a post before over here. It’s so important that you direct the flow of money into your priority areas. Now every month we share our profits into money buckets that match our goals. These money buckets live in high interest savings accounts. (We use ING Direct.)

We have buckets for:

  • Tax and GST
  • Superannuation
  • Vacations
  • Emergencies
  • Future house deposit
  • Kids savings account

You don’t have to put a lot in each, just a small percentage shows your commitment and ability to manage your money in the future. It really does help to make you feel money smart.

I like how, instead of having my money sit in one account, we’ve defined how we want it to work for us based upon our goals and priorities. If you do this, you’re less likely to waste it. I’m actually quite surprised how this money can build up and how more secure it makes me feel.

6. Talk with a Financial adviser

I’ve definitely identified a need to talk with someone who might be smarter than me when it comes to investments, insurances, and money plans. I’m really keen on getting financial literate.

I’m in the process of organising a free initial consultation through my superannuation providers (Love free!) I’m expecting a knuckle rap, but I won’t feel ashamed about it.

You also need a great accountant, especially if you run your own business and a structure in place with trusts involved like us. It can get complicated. We use Emma from Nudge Accounting who has streamlined everything for us.

7. Contribute to superannuation

I have a thing about superannuation. I just don’t get why I’d deny myself money I could use now to have a fantastic life, to put in a place I can’t touch until I’m 65. It just seems so crazy. I’d rather make the memories now.

But, I’m forcing myself to see the tax, investment and security benefits of it. (Actually still not completely sold on the security part) As we’re now employees of our own company, we’ll be forced to make contributions. Every small step counts.
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Results of my Money Management project

I definitely feel much more empowered and lighter. No more living in denial.

I won’t create a more stable and secure one by ignoring the logistics of how I treat money. It’s so much easier to know exactly where your money is going so you can better plan for your future and evaluate if you are adequately meeting your needs and desires.

I’m starting to feel a little excitement now when I sit down each month to manage the money. I’m learning to be patient and kind to myself and forgive my past mistreatment’s. It’s never too late for change.

My tip is to create a happy environment when you do this. Put on some music you love, make yourself a cuppa, or pour yourself a glass of wine. And if you start to feel stressed, walk away and take time out. It can sometimes take me a couple of days to get it done.

Take action today. Your task is to spend time identifying your leaks and making a plan for them.

Lay out the fine china for your money and it will keep returning.

Do you have good control over your money and awareness over how it moves in and out? What else do you need help with? We’d love to hear your tips and stories.

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