Feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation?
For most families, during the child-rearing time of our lives, expenses are high as we are still growing our careers, building income, or sacrificing income to be home with our kids. Nerdwallet recently did a study and found that the average American household has a credit card balance of $15,654, of which, on average, American’s are paying roughly $904 in credit card interest every year. Additionally, with the explosion of the internet, there are hundreds of personal finance websites advising on how to handle your money including saving for retirement, building an emergency fund, paying off debt, setting financial goals, and honestly, it can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, we can take control of our finances, and it all starts with attitude and mindset.
1. Wherever You Are…It’s OK!
I think we all have a tendency to think we are not stacking up. We should be further along in our career, making more money, saving more, or something else. I’m here to tell you, truly, wherever you are, it IS okay. Whatever situation you are in, you are presented with a great challenge to turn it around. In fact, life would be boring if we didn’t have challenges.
If you have no credit card debt or $80,000 of debt, YOU are going to be okay. You may have different decisions to make, but you will still be okay. I’ve seen friends, family, acquaintances turn around even the most dire situations and also have fun along the way. But first, accept the situation you are in. Then, once you have accepted it, embrace it. Love it. Be thankful for the lessons you are about to learn. They are the stories you will be able to tell your grandkids about “walking to school uphill both ways.”
2. No Need to Keep Up with the Jones’
I can’t stress this enough. I don’t even know who the Jones’ are, but I don’t think I want to be friends with them anyways. But seriously, it is really easy to get caught up in trying to keep up, and sometimes not keeping up may make you feel like you don’t fit in. I think in many ways it is harder when you have kids, because your kids will complain when their friends get to do things that they don’t.
Take stock of where you are, what you are spending money on, and question whether you are doing it for you and your family, or doing it so that you can fit in in whatever social circle you find yourself in. It’s not always obvious, you may be spending money on certain things because you feel like you should, it was the way you grew up, or other reasons, but if it doesn’t fit with your current financial profile it’s okay to cut it.
Lastly, I think as parents we get extremely concerned about making sure our kids have the best future imaginable. It’s a competitive world out there and we want to give our kids every opportunity and advantage. However, there is great value in being honest with your kids on what your financial situation and goals are, if they are old enough, as they will learn that life is not always easy which will help them develop healthy financial attitudes as well. If they’re not old enough to understand this, then they are probably content just spending time with you and could care less about the Jones’.
3. Having Less Spending Money Leads to Creativity
Try this. Pick a weekend and vow not to spend any money, or give yourself a budget of $10 or less. What will you do? You can either think about all the things you wish you could do, go out to eat, take the kids to a museum or the zoo, OR you can make it a big challenge that your kids are in on too.
I guarantee you, you will come up with so many things that you never would have thought of by putting this boundary on yourself. Try it – let me know what you come up with.
4. Fun Stuff Really is Cheap or Free
This goes hand in hand with #3, but fun stuff really is free. It costs nothing to go for a walk, to the playground, to the library or do some crafts.
When I was younger, my happiest memories were of sitting in my grandparents’ screened in porch and talking. We would play I Spy, alphabet word games, sing, do puzzles, and just be together. When we wanted an activity, we would go out in the yard and play whiffle ball. When I wanted to work, my grandparents would give me chores and pay me a quarter per chore. As a kid, I remember those times as the happiest times, so if you are worried about making sure your kids get to see every museum and event, remember, all they really want is to be with you.
5. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin, Pick One Money Goal and Do It
This is a big one to me. There is so much financial advice out there that it can be overwhelming knowing what advice to follow and where to start. Additionally, if you have limited funds, you can’t do everything, and you won’t accomplish anything if you are trying to do a little bit of everything.
If you aren’t sure where to start, check out my financial roadmap which outlines the steps to building a happy, healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
6. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Affirmations and Gratitude
Life is a journey. Every situation that comes your way is helping you to grow. The more you resist with worry and stress, the harder it is to turn the situation around. However, if, when a challenge comes your way, you can be thankful for it, you will absolutely overcome it. Car break down with no emergency fund? Say a thanks for bringing this challenge to you as well as for the means to solve it. Then, get to work on solving it. If you need that car fixed right away, you do, but then grab that sidehustle to make that money back quickly. In serious debt? Be thankful that you have a challenge to overcome, then get to work. Whatever creative ways you come up with to get out of debt, I’m absolutely sure you can write a blog about it later :-).
In addition to gratitude, I love affirmations. Whatever you think or believe is what you are. So if you are worried about money, affirm that your will is strong and you are capable of doing all of the things you need to do to get out of your situation. If you think you never have enough, affirm that you always have enough and you are lucky to be challenging your personal discipline by living with less. If you do both of these things, you will have a will of steel and the personal discipline to change your financial picture.
7. No Job is Beneath You
I work in a very professional environment. I’m around successful people all of the time. The one thing I have noticed though is that the people who stand out are the ones who will do what is needed to get the job done. And so it is with life, if you need a financial lift, no job is beneath you. A job is a job and it worthy of respect. Don’t worry about what other people think. The most successful leaders and entrepreneurs out there just did what needed to be done without worrying about what others thought. Whether it is a part-time job, or trying a blog, or taking online surveys, whatever it is that you need to boost your income, it is fine. Drop your ego, and you will reach success much faster.