There is sooooooo much that I’ve been wanting to share with all of you just over these past couple weeks and I’m literally holding myself back from making this a double- or even a triple-header! Can’t give it all away at once, but don’t you worry, I’ve got some really good stuff in store!
Interestingly enough, I’ve opted for what I think might be more of a subtle factor to share with you this week-being financially fit. See, here’s the thing about being responsible with our finances: We all know it’s a should, even a must! There really isn’t a question about this. In fact, I would almost bet that 100% of us want this. I actually can’t imagine anyone not wanting to have their “house in order” as it relates to their finances. Just a couple days ago, I had a chance to catch up with a fabulous new friend, Jan (check out her recently launched venture, Daily General Counsel), and she always imparts some serious wisdom when we get a chance to connect. As we took in the deliciousness we had from Flour Bakery, she shared many things and one thing has really, really stuck with me since:
“I’m going to say to you exactly what I say to my daughter all the time, ‘At no point in your life should you ever, ever, ever feel stuck! That’s just a no-no. Everything is yours to create, so you’ve just got to do it.’”
We were talking about so much regarding the entrepreneurial realm and of course personal finances are part of this as you have to plan how you’re going to fund your aspirations.
Being financially fit really means a whole lot, and for many people, it means different things. See for some, it means being able to not have to rely on credit cards. For others, it means not having to live paycheck to paycheck. And still others, it means being a lender, not a borrower; being the head and not the tail, being able to tithe. One of my friends recently found herself in a really tough spot having lost her job, used up all her savings to get by over the past year, and is so frustrated, yet all she could focus on was “Farah, I have not been able to pay my tithes! I don’t play with my tithes and I have not been able to tithe!” Now, let’s just be honest. Some of us, I would dare to submit, many of us, would harp on not being able to shop, not being able to go out to dinner, and I’ll even admit, not being able to do my spa days (I said I was being honestJ). And tithing was my friend’s priority. She was “stuck”.
So now, when I think of Jan’s advice and what it really means to be financially fit, some basic practices and principles apply:
1-Budget: To me this is the easiest part. As an excel junkie, I just feel like you put in the formulas and items into a spreadsheet and there you have it, a budget! Yet, I can’t tell you how many of my friends, even just over the last couple months have admitted to not having a budget. You know I nipped that in the bud! Here’s the easiest thing to do TODAY: Open a spreadsheet, input Income, Expenses, Residual amounts. Slate this information up for at least one month. Then, when it’s time for you to update it next month, go ahead and budget for two months until you get yourself up to at least a quarterly budget. TIP: Include your disposable income/”Play” money and savings in your expenses rows. Then, it just becomes behavior for you to account for this
2-Set Goals: Again, pretty simple here but this is why we sometimes get tripped up. For instance, I’ve wanted, and kind of needed, a new car for a while now, but again, being honest, I haven’t really set a savings plan for it and I don’t play with debt so I’m not just going to go out and get a new car (accepting donations of anything big and shiny though…with leather interior). So, I finally sat down a couple weeks ago and set a weekly “Car Fund” savings contribution plan. CapitalOne360 even let’s you have your account send you regular updates on your progress as you get closer to your goals. So whether it’s a new pair of jeans, a new car, a new place, set your goals. It actually makes it a bit more fun too.
3-Commit to your goals: This really requires nothing more than committing to your goals. By simply committing to my own goals, I’ve turned down some serious deals at Banana Republic (up 70% off items today) Burberry (there is a pair of sunglasses I really want and the outlets had them on sale yesterday), and Amrita Singh (my FAVORITE jewelry designer). See, here’s the different between having goals and committing to them: Having the goal of getting a car, I could maintain that goal and still purchase this teal jacket, care of Banana Republic, because it’s on sale today (size 8, again, if you’re in a giving mood)
and reason that I will just make it up next go around when I add to my savings. Committing to my goal though, I did pause and remind myself, I’ve got bigger and better things I am committing to right now and this jacket will not make my current car last any longer and won’t be as cute if I’m wearing it with a broken down car on the side of the road! HAH!
4-Ask for Accountability: We all need our friends and though this post does not reflect it, I really do have a hard time asking for things…especially for help. The bigger your goals, dreams and aspirations though, the more you need those around you who are going to hold you accountable. So, just earlier this week I had to admit to a little financial boo boo to a friend who I knew would give me the business and set me straight and then love up on me with some good advice…and expectations! Now, and she knows this, I can’t stand to hear her voice with the “I told you so” and “Don’t play” and “What are you doing” tone. BUT, I do appreciate that she will never let me deviate from my goals because according to her, “You know American Express does not play, get it together! No cash, no purchase.” Ugh! Reminding myself: I am grateful for my friends…I am grateful for my friends…I am grateful for my friends…no matter how loud and annoying they may sometimes be!
5-Share: Best practices are truly more powerful as they are shared. After giving me this mini-lecture, my friend sent me one of her commitments for this year and it really is pretty simple:
Check out Frecklberry for details but it’s more around the practice of saving than anything else.
Now the above is not an end all and be all to being financially fit, but it’s a pretty fabulous start…says the author of the list herself…no bias, right? At the end of the day, this leads to more personal power. Not engaging in long-term relationships with credit cards and balancing your spending with your savings positions, you to create more, to do more, and to help others to the same. So let’s all heed Jan’s advice and commit to never, never, never feeling stuck and instead, being financially fit!
Soundtrack of the week: My conversation with Jan reminded me that we all need to walk in authority and when we realize we actually can, it happens to be the beginning of the best days of our lives.
Donnie McClurkin: Walking in Authority
American Authors: Best Day of My Life