Move past your past

You may have been deeply hurt or had some disappointments. You may have made some wrong turns or gotten caught up a time or two. Now what? More important than what you did or what happened then is what you do and what happens now.

Move past your past. You cannot use old thoughts to build a new life. You cannot use pain and disappointment as an excuse to give up and still expect to get what you deserve from life. You cannot hold onto anger and say, “I just want to be happy.”

What can you do? Whatever it takes…you can allow yourself to invest confident energy and effort in your life. Decide to develop an empowered vision of your future and embrace the promise it holds. Understand that you have the power, and the responsibility, to go after the life you want.

Find your financial purpose

Having a big why makes the how of money management feel more possible. If there is a real purpose driving your plan you will feel more compelled to save instead of deprived when you don’t spend. The sense of purpose creates a real shift in attitude that helps you see it isn’t that you can’t spend but that you are choosing not to spend. You are choosing your big why over a small, fleeting pleasure. Your sense of self is immeasurably bolstered by making a plan and sticking with it – much more than it is by getting another tech gadget. What is your big why? Is it saving for a house you can raise your children in? Is it knowing you can take care of yourself and pay your bills? The security of having a safety net to handle emergencies? Planning for a comfortable retirement? Maybe it is saving enough money to start a business or buy a car. Name your big why now and use the passion you feel to help you figure out the how (of saving/getting the money to fuel your why).

What is the purpose of money in your life? What role does it serve?

Think of a time when you saved a lot of money. Was it for a wedding, to buy a bike or even a car? Or was it to take a vacation or buy a house? You were able to do that because you were motivated by a very specific and desirable reward. To repeat that same habit in your daily life it is important to identify whatever that thing is (your why) that is so desirable that it makes the impulse to buy seem pale in comparison. Think not in terms of what you can’t buy but what you will be able to do as a result of your choice not to spend in this moment. Remember, money gives you options. If you have $500 saved you can better handle emergencies. It doesn’t matter how little you have to start. It only matters that you protect your financial future by making a savings plan in the present.

Prioritize Ruthlessly

Prioritize ruthlessly – Tina Tchen

Don’t let meaningless busyness or petty distractions steal the time you need for restoration, relationships, goals or any must-do’s that are deeply important to you.

You can make it happen – whatever “it” is – when you give yourself permission to clarify priorities and focus on them with deliberate intention.

Leap for your dreams

Take the leap. You have already failed in a thousand big and small ways – you did not die. You learned, you adjusted, you kept growing forward. Why not risk failure for something that really matters to you? Go ahead and launch your business, get sober, write a book, ask a question, sign up for the race, step out, take that class, say yes to whatever your dream is. Go big, and if you fail it will be in the knowledge that you took a glorious leap toward the deep longing you have felt. It is okay to let yourself be pulled forward by that longing. Allow it to fill you, it might even quiet some of your fears.

Know that you will be okay no matter what happens. You may even be better as you decide to answer your urge and nurture courage instead of discontent. So decide to take the leap. You will not die if you stumble or even if you fall (embarrassment or whatever else you might feel will not kill you). Besides, if you don’t succeed you can rework your plan and try again as many times as you need to. You are worth the effort and the risk.

Make time for what matters

Make time for what matters…you.

Saving is self care

Especially when you are worried that things are falling apart you may be likely to pray for a miracle or bury your head in the sand. That may work for ostriches, but it probably won’t work for you. The best way to figure out how to fix a financial jam is to face it. Be willing to get a clear picture of where you are and where you want to go.

If that prospect seems overwhelming, don’t panic. You don’t have to do everything right away. Choose one manageable task each month until you feel you have a good grasp of your financial situation.

Two good places to start making changes are with daily spending and emotional spending.

Daily Spending – how much money do you typically spend on miscellaneous items each month? These are things like morning coffee, take out food, magazines, soda, cigarettes, etc. Chances are it is more than you think. Even if you spend only $2 or $3 per day, that can add up to almost $100 per month. With planning you could use that money instead for a utility bill, a monthly bus pass, paying debts, or a pretty good start on an emergency savings fund.

Make it a little easier by being clear about the why of self-denial in the moment. It isn’t about deprivation. Think of it instead as saying yes to security, to purpose, to your future self – she is counting on you to build a safety net – you are saying yes to financial self-determination.

Alternatives to emotional spending

Be brave – your vision for your financial future requires extreme bravery. Sometimes you may have to disappoint others by saying no. That doesn’t mean you are selfish or a bad person. Look for ways to respond that are compassionate and helpful as well as in service to your financial goals. Maybe you can help the person in need explore alternative solutions. Always you can express concern.

Have something to hold onto – hobbies and other things you are proud of can help you stay grounded and feeling purposeful.

Create a refuge in your home – everyone needs restoration, healing and dream time.

Seek out new experiences – you might find that you get just as much of a thrill trying a new recipe or singing karaoke as you do from buying a new pair of shoes. You can be more without buying more. 

Check local listings for happenings in your town. There are usually a few free events each season such as book readings, festivals, parades, hikes and even concerts at colleges, parks and places of worship.

Gather friends for a vision boarding session. Saving and planning for your financial future can be more fun when you envision it with the support of like-minded friends. You only need some magazines (everyone can bring what they have), paper and glue. Cut out pictures of the things you are working toward and paste them onto a sturdy board or piece of paper. Post your vision board in a place where you will see it often.

Head to the park for a picnic or a game of Frisbee.

Host a pot-luck game night. Guests can bring their own snacks.

Check out your local library. There is always something free and fun to do there from yoga, language and knitting lessons to movies and chess lessons. Learning something new can help you create another layer of identity beyond your possessions. You might be what you eat, but you aren’t what you have.

Remember, you can’t really spend away pain, boredom or disappointment. Adding debt will likely make things feel worse.

Saving is self care

Forty-seven percent of Americans “can’t pay for an unexpected $400 expense through savings or credit cards, without selling something or borrowing money.” – Hunter Schwarz on June 8 in a Washington Post article

Don’t worry if you’re in that number. Just start where you are. Saving is particularly important for women for several reasons. Women are often concentrated in lower paying jobs, which means lower overall lifetime earnings. Also, women frequently live longer than men and can be financially vulnerable in cases of separation or death. That is especially true when children are involved. Ultimately, having money in the bank contributes to a feeling of security and peace of mind. Here are some ideas to try.

Keep a piggybank

Many years ago I helped my mother roll up $25 worth of pennies. She used the money to open her first account separate from my father. She still has that account today.

Consider your company 401k plan

When you contribute $25 of your pre tax earnings you reduce your tax base and you may even be eligible for company matching – free money. Even better, pre-tax contributions mean you save $25 but your paycheck is only about $20 less. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t saving as much as you want to save. It only matters that you start saving. You can increase your savings as your budget allows.

Consider an incremental purchase plan.

Maybe you don’t have enough to buy a share of Apple or Google. An incremental purchase plan allows you to purchase portions of shares. So if you can invest $25 you can start purchasing stock without a lot of cash. Providers such as Sharebuilder also offer automatic dividend reinvestment and automatic deductions. Easy breezy.

Set a small savings goal

Your goal need not be big. Just make one, such as $5 or $10 per month. Save the money through automatic deduction in an account you do not have regular access to. If your budget is just too tight to allow any saving, sell something you are no longer using. Consider a yard sale, eBay or Tradesy. Tradesy users can upload photos of clothing items they want to sell. When the item sells, transfer the money from your PayPal to your savings account.

Remember, you can’t buy your way out of pain or disappointment, so don’t try. The debts will likely make you feel worse. Tune in tomorrow for alternatives to spending.

You can trust yourself to keep the promises you make to yourself

Starting where I am is good enough and much kinder to my sense of self than never starting at all.

Getting started with exercise – The Centers for Disease Control advises adults to exercise at least 150 minutes at a moderate pace each week. Don’t let that number overwhelm you. Start where you are:

  • If you have a minute or two, swing a kettlebell,  jump rope or dance to your favorite song.
  • If you have 5 or 10 minutes, take a brisk walk, do jumping jacks or lunges.
  • If you have a pedometer, challenge yourself to take more steps each day.
  • If you don’t have 30 minutes all at once, exercise in 10 or 15 minute increments.

You don’t have to start perfectly, you just have to start. That’s how you build trust in yourself – you do what you say you are going to do. Knowing you can count on yourself to come through is pretty powerful. If you have made a promise to yourself to exercise how will you keep it?