Mindset. Behavior. Relationship. You may wonder what these 3 things have in common, well, one leads to the other, and in this case, they all have to do with money. Your mindset around, your behaviors surrounding and your relationship with money. I know the last one for me took me some time to grasp that we do have a relationship with money. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
I read the book The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey a few years ago and that began the shift for me. I immediately noticed the choices I made regarding how, where, and when I spent my money. Small changes happened, but nothing was sticking in the debt relief department. It felt like a step forward, a few steps back. I kept trying though. It wasn’t until last year when both my guy and I were on the same page about the significance being debt-free could provide us that big strides were made. He listened to the same audiobook, not just understanding but being inspired himself, he even went on to listen to Entreleadership.
So there it was, united, the decision, and more importantly, the commitment to becoming debt-free. The commitment becomes the catalyst for behavior change and the support of another reinforces it. The ‘my’ mentality left us. It was ‘our’ debt and ‘our’ income. So we formed our plan.
Practical steps included outlining a legitimate budget, using budgeting tools consistently, ensuring you stay the course throughout your weeks and months, and adjusting sails when you’ve gone over. Overspending is going to happen at first, realign your mindset when it does and insert mindfulness techniques to recognize, forgive the offense and move forward with better intentions and a practical plan to avoid the overage in the future.
Step by step, we started saving an emergency fund of $1,000.00. For me, I added another side gig and any cash I received went into that fund. (It’s less easy to spend when its at home, in an envelope.) Folks, not once in my life have I had a savings account with that much money in it. I rarely saved anything, literally not my bank account, not in a piggy bank in the corner. (Ideally, this would be $2,000, but this is a start. One day it will be 3–6 months of monthly expenses. One Step at a time.)
“Start where you are” -Renee Machel
So working a little extra and knowing exactly where that money was going established the savings account. When you pull from your $1000, which you will, the washer goes out or something else happens and you buy the most economically wise investment you can find. You work to reestablish the fund to its baseline before putting your money anywhere else.
I began to prioritize chipping away at my debt over fleeing moments of fun or meaningless purchases. Having an emergency fund meant that the next weird thing that happened I could pay for in cash vs putting on my credit card, I even began to leave the credit cards at home, in the filing cabinet, upstairs. This offered much-needed piece of mind.
I continued making smart money moves to reshape my financial picture and you can too.