I don’t know where all of this information was back in 2013 when our family got way in over our heads financially. Nevertheless, the info is here for YOU now! If you are someone who feels like you are always struggling with money and can’t seem to get ahead, there may be some life circumstances that are making it difficult. However, you might also have fallen into the trap of living above your means. This is a trap people can easily fall into. The crazy truth is, most of us were never given the financial tools for success and many financial institutions profit on our lack of knowledge. That’s why, as a former broke girl, I feel it is my duty to fill in some gaps for you to prevent you from drowning financially and avoid living a lifestyle you can’t afford.
Design a minimalist life
One of the best things you can do for yourself that will allow you to see results in every area is to intentionally design your life rather than let life happen to you. When you learn how to do this you may just find yourself with more clarity, peace, and fewer financial burdens that are weighing you down.
A lot of times when people hear the term minimalism they imagine bland, boring homes, and lives and instantly opt out of the idea. However, what minimalism can really mean is:
- Intentionally choosing to design a life around the things you value the most
- Create time and space to focus on your top priroties
- Design a home that feels easy to manage and makes you feel happy
The truth is, most of us would never design our lives the same way. That’s why I created a free 60 second quiz so you can find Your Brand of Minimalism. After you take the quiz, I’ll send you a few starting points on how to begin simplifying your life in a way that works for you! Take the 60 second quiz.
Stop thinking more money
I remember a day, several days actually, when I would realize that our bank account was low again and would go into a panic thinking that I needed to find a job, or a second job, or sell all my possessions.
At the time I was a stay at home mom and my husband, Tom, was working full time. On occasion, I would work a part time job here and there just to have something to do and for some extra cash. However, when money felt tight I always felt I needed to work more or find a job with more hours.
In a panic, I would start scanning the wanted ads in the newspaper (man how times have changed).
What I didn’t realize was that I didn’t need to earn more, I needed to better manage what I currently had.
- If you are already in the habit of over-spending, you will continue to over-spend any additional money you earn.
- The first place to look when money feels tight is at your current spending habits.
Rather than continuing on in hustle mode, or feeling stuck financially, the first thing I recommend is to learn how to understand your money and how to make it work for you.
If you’re anything like me, you may have pushed away the idea of budgeting because you believe it’s not possible to have a budget and have fun in your life. That’s why I created a course called The Bucket List Budget just for people like us to learn how to not only better budget money, but to do it in a way that still allows for fun and flexibility in your finances.
Know your money
One of the scariest things to do, especially when you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed financially, is to actually sit and look at your current financial situation. I get it, opening up your bank account to see a $0 balance or even a negative balance can send a person into depression faster than it takes to shut your laptop.
Not only is looking at the bills in your budget difficult, but you will also have to come face to face with where your potentially bad spending habits. Read: I Bought Stuff I Don’t Need. Now What?
I know, believe me, I know how crappy it can feel to open your bank account in an attempt to find where your money has gone only to come face to face with the reality that you are in fact the one who made it all disappear.
How to prep for a Spending Inventory:
- Take a deep breath
- Remind yourself that this is only your now, not your forever
- Begin recording and categorizing your spending
Spending Inventories are something I talk about a lot in The Bucket List Budget. If you aren’t sure how to do a Spending Inventory, check out my YouTube tutorial to help you get started.
Getting more money in your budget
Coming face to face with the reality of your finances and just how much (or how little) money you have can feel totally debilitating. I get that. However, once you have done a Spending Inventory, you can begin creating more money in your budget with what you already have.
Here are the two best ways to make more money happen in your budget ASAP:
- Eliminate repeated monthly spending – This is a genius way to get more money back in your bank account every month. Read: 40 Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Bills
- Create new spending goals – If you are in the habit of spending $200 per month on Starbucks. Get yourself a pre-loaded Starbucks gift card for $150. You’re still allowing yourself to spend, but are reducing your costs just enough to get more money back in your budget each month!
Creating a Bucket List Budget is all about making small decisions that can help put you back in control of your money and can spark a new way of thinking.
Consider all costs
Before making any financial decisions, consider all the costs of your purchases. This can go for big purchases like a house, or a car, however, it can also go for smaller purchases like clothing and kid’s toys.
When it comes to major financial purchases, the hidden costs associated with these purchases are referred to as Phantom Costs.
Phantom Costs are additional expenses that we don’t always consider even though they will have a major impact on our financial wellbeing.
Here are some examples of Phantom Costs:
- Increased home owner’s insurance
- Property taxes
- Services to maintain the house (duct cleaning, new roof, water filters, air filters)
- Lawn care equipment
- Future updates
- Gas expenses
- Oil changes
- Yearly tabs
While Phantom Costs are often used in reference to hidden financial costs, it is just as important to remember the costs of smaller purchases.
- More laundry
- Potential interest if bought with credit card
- Additional clutter to maintain
- More clean up
- Potential fighting
- More to declutter later
Does this mean all of these things are not worth it? No. It’s simply that we often forget about just how big of a price we pay for the things we say we want. Keeping these reminders in the back of your mind may help you slow your future purchases and be a little more intentional when it comes to leaping into a new decision.
Focus on your future
The best way to build a Bucket List Budget is to always be planning ahead for amazing things you want to do/have/experience. Unfortunately, another way we can easily get ourselves swept up in living a life that we can’t afford is when we are so focused on buying whatever is currently trending.
We buy a house because all of our friends are buying a house.
We upgrade our phone because everyone at work did.
We rush into a family because everyone we graduated with already has them.
It can be hard not to feel like we’re falling behind. When we let ourselves feel this way, we might be quicker to make poor financial decisions that lead to us living a lifestyle we can’t afford — and maybe don’t even want!
In order to avoid these little soul-sucking money traps, why not consider asking yourself this one important question: “What is it that I actually want my life to look like?” And then, begin to financially plan for it!
When you can hold a vision for what it is you want for your life (broad statements like, “To just be happy” don’t count), you will be able to refocus your attention if and when you feel tempted to make impulsive purchases that don’t align. This is what building a Bucket List Budget is all about.
Connect your emotions to your brain
Lastly, I want to give you the reminder that if you are making impulsive financial decisions, you are most definitely being lead by your emotions.
If you are anything like me (recovering shopaholic) then you probably know that rush that comes along with shoving items into your cart. This same sugar-rushed feeling can go hand in hand with buying a new house, car, toilet…the options are endless.
As someone who used to be completely run by her emotions, let me tell you, getting good at recognizing my impulse spending urges and learning to turn on my thinking brain were two of the best things I have ever learned how to do. Buddhists would call this quieting the monkey mind.
Find a guide
Lastly, in any are of your life where you seek expansion and knowledge, it is important to find a guide that can help you out. Reading blog posts, books, or listening to podcasts can be helpful but sometimes it’s nice to have additional guidance and place where you can ask questions.
If you’re hoping to find a little more clarity on living a lifestyle you can afford while also allowing for fun, freedom and flexibility in your spending, check out the Bucket List Budget and see if it’s a good fit for you!