The Choice is Yours
Let’s declare 2018 as the year to become financially free. It really is a choice. You decide. Do you want to continue to live in fear as it relates to your finances, OR do you finally want to take proactive steps to obtain financial freedom? Living one flat tire, medical bill, or broken household appliance away from financial devastation is not an ideal way to live.
Now take a deep breath. I have good news for you. There is hope and there are ways to be proactive with your finances, rather than reactive. Proper financial planning is the key to avoiding many financial pitfalls. The most basic financial planning task, but the most critical for success, is creating a realistic monthly budget.
From a practical standpoint, a budget is simply a written plan, or spreadsheet, that shows you in detail how much money you earn from all sources each month, how much you need to live on, and how much money you can allocate toward your savings goals, charity, and treating yourself.
No matter what your age or stage in life, you will never outgrow the need for a budget. The most important thing you can do to move from fearful insecurity regarding your personal finances to confident control, is to create and live by a monthly budget.
How Much Money Do You Spend Each Month?
Friend, do you know how much money you spend each month? If not, please don’t be embarrassed. That accomplishes nothing. Let’s figure it out together. I suggest going to an all-cash system for a couple of months to track your expenses. If you’re very disciplined, you can use something as simple as a shoebox to store and save every single receipt for a month. Do not exclude any receipts or expenses. I suggest you place the shoebox next to the door of your home. Then empty your receipts from your purse or wallet every time you come home. If you spend $4.50 at your local coffee shop, then save the receipt. This is the only way to truly know how much money you’re spending each month. After this, you’ll be able to determine how much discretionary income you have.
What is Discretionary Income?
Discretionary income is the amount of money you can afford to save or spend each month after all of your expenses are paid. Be prepared to be surprised. Many people are shocked to find out how much money they spend on miscellaneous items like lattes, dining out, shopping, or entertainment. None of these expenses are bad. You just need to make sure you’re spending less than you make. People often go over their monthly budget one small purchase at a time.
I want you to experience financial freedom by spending less than you earn, and not putting a deficit on credit cards each month. If you have money left over at the end of each month, then you can allocate it toward your savings goals, and even toward some purchases or activities you enjoy, such as new shoes or dinner with friends. The ONLY way you’ll ever achieve financial freedom is to spend less than you make, and save the rest, unless you win the lottery. However, please don’t count on that! You’re more likely to be hit by lightning twice than to win the lottery.
In order for a budget to actually work and benefit your family, it has to be tailored to your unique lifestyle and situation. The biggest objection I hear from people is they don’t know where to start when it comes to creating a budget. If this sounds familiar, please visit my website: www.emilygstroud.com and enter your email address. Then I will personally email you a complimentary budget worksheet for free.
Many of you have already received the budget planner but it’s sitting in your inbox, on your desk, or the kitchen counter. It’s just another item on your long “TO DO” list. Perhaps you feel like you’re in survival mode and you’re focused solely on the tyranny of the urgent. If so, I completely understand. However, you’re going to have to make some changes, maybe even drastic ones, if you want to achieve financial freedom.
Let’s Live Differently in 2018
I believe 2018 is an opportunity to make some much-needed changes. Friend, go create that new budget and get started on transforming your financial life. Honestly, it’s just like starting a new workout plan: the hardest part is putting on your tennis shoes. Once you start exercising, you actually feel better and it’s not nearly as bad as you thought it would be.
I really do believe in you and your unique ability to make positive changes in your life. If you need daily encouragement to stay the course, I’m your girl. Keep checking back in with me regularly and often at Emily G. Stroud, MBA, CFA. I provide daily advice, tips, and encouragement for you to learn how to live your best life possible from a financial standpoint.
If you want to dig deeper and have a much better understanding of how to achieve true financial freedom, then I encourage you to purchase a copy of my newly released book: