Are Your Finances a Hot Mess?

Image of a piggy bank in an article about getting your finances in order

We haven’t talked about finances for a while, so I thought I’d talk a bit about them today.

When we left off, we were talking about the path to financial freedom. It was an overview of sorts. And I wanted to share it because before I started reading books on personal finance, I always just thought I’d figure it out later, or you know, when I was an adult, figured out my life, got married, whatever.

I had no idea that there was a proven path to financial freedom that all these other people were already walking.

Why don’t they teach us this shit in high school or college? Glad I learned about macroeconomic statistics instead of how a credit card works. My roommates and I once signed up for credit cards to get free Subway sandwiches. I’m not joking.

In my post-college days, I was content to live paycheck to paycheck, sometimes running up a credit card bill I couldn’t quite cover by the end of the month, though I was making plenty of money.

And when I say “content,” what I really mean is “freaking out” every Monday when I checked my account balances.

Optimized-Finances

Since I felt so overwhelmed and had no idea what to actually do about it, I just pretended it wasn’t happening.

I went to the gym I couldn’t afford after work and then went to bed. I mistakenly thought that ‘getting my finances together’ meant I had to stop spending money entirely, that I’d have zero fun in life. And I wanted no part of that. I also believed that later on, when I got rich, I’d pay off my debt and live happily ever after.

I wasn’t going to skip happy hour with my friends. And damnit, I needed that $300 dress I couldn’t afford. My ex-boyfriend was going to be at that wedding and it was worth it to feel pretty. Plus I was single, I mean, come on.

Does this sound familiar?

Deep down I wanted to be that together, adult human who wasn’t in debt and could rent an apartment on her own if she wanted to. Which she didn’t, because she lived in New York, but still.

And here’s the thing, what I didn’t understand at the time was that if you’re making money, you’re already managing your finances. If you don’t know that, you’re probably just doing a really shitty job of it, like I was.

It’s not something that you can put off. It’s something you’re already doing whether you realize it or not.

If you’re not focusing some time and attention on your financial health, you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary anxiety and stress. Not to mention losing out on money to interest rates and missed opportunities to make your money work for you.

You don’t have to wait to start managing your finances better though. You can start today. And you should.

It’s important to harness the power of well-planned personal finances as soon as possible. Because in doing so, you’ll derive a sense of personal freedom that you just can’t get otherwise.

It doesn’t matter if you’re making $10,000 a year or $200,000 a year, it’s how you manage your money that counts.

Just take a look at some professional athletes. Look at how much money they make, and yet so many end up bankrupt.

And then look at someone like my grandma. She never earned a ton of money but, because of excellent management skills, she’s pretty much rolling in it at 90. She’s always has a roof over her head and food on the table. She took vacations, drove a sweet Buick, bought lots of mallards for the living room, and whatever she wanted from L.L. Bean, willy nilly, whenever she pleased.

They keep sending me checks.” – my grandma, on the phone last week.

“Who are ‘they’? And what are you doing with all these checks? Send me some.” – me, on the phone with my grandma last week

Now before we go any further, I want you to know that I’m not an expert in any way shape or form, just to be clear. But I’ve experienced first hand how freeing it can be to have your personal finances in order vs. being a hot mess.

I didn’t hire any experts to help me do it, though Joel gave me some guidance when we were first dating. I also read blogs written by other folks trying to figure it out and books to help me understand the big picture.

But really, buying less crap and sticking to a reasonably indulgent budget is what did the trick for me.

That’s one complicated, sexy, personal finance strategy, right?

Buy less crap and stick to a reasonably indulgent budget. 

I did give my parents financial adviser some money to invest once. And then I called him up on his landline and said “So when do you make me all of the money, Tony?” I said this in a super business-like tone. If I was sitting in front of him, I would’ve written it on a Post-it, turned it over and slid it across the table.

He laughed like I was kidding.

I wasn’t kidding, Tony.

But, that’s not the type of money management I’m talking about today. You don’t need to start by investing anything, except some time and energy into understanding where all of your money is going.

And then you have to set yourself up with a simple system that will work for you – and actually follow it.

That’s the kicker, you have to actually follow your plan, but we’ll get to that later. It’s gonna feel great though, and I will help you.

Here’s what to do if you want some help with your personal finances:

  1. Download our Free Finance guide below – this will help you get started right now. 
  2. Follow the steps in the guide to get a clear view of your current situation. 
  3. And then shoot me an email at dana@croptopsandkale.com to let me know you’ve completed it. 
  4. Then I’ll tell you want to do next.

Let me know in the comments below what you specifically would like help with. Or if you don’t want to air ya business on the internet, you can email me questions at dana@croptopsandkale.com.

You pumped?! Let’s do this.

Dana

Author Dana

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • I am turning 30 in a couple months and starting to freak out about needing to save more money. Also dreaming of saving enough money to travel (thanks to the book Paris Letters). And in college my roommate and I also signed up for a credit card to get a free sandwich LOL. Oh geez.

  • Dana says:

    Glad I wasn’t the only one, Jill! Ha! Thanks for commenting.

    You can totally save enough money to travel! I’ll have to check out Paris Letters.

    I’ve found that going minimalist is the best way to save more money. Once I adopted that mindset everything became clear. Our stuff doesn’t make us happy. But having the financial freedom to do more of what we want with our time does.

    My husband and I actually traveled for 3 months cross-country last year. It was amazing. I think traveling is one of the best investments we can make with our money.

    Have you read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts? If you want to travel, that one is MUST read.

  • […] feeling enormous resistance toward a task, or procrastinating on something like exercising or organizing your finances, or dating, take a minute to think about why you feel that way. Getting to the root of it could […]

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