This blog post is part 2 of a series on Managing Your Finances and Becoming Your Own CFO, featuring insights from my financial planner, Angela Moore. These blogs will show you exactly why I love her. You can find her at ModernMoneyAdvisor.com, @modernmoney305 on Twitter and @modernmoneyadvisor on Instagram.
This continues our series of money advice from my financial planner extraordinaire, Angela Moore. Angela says your “budget is all about mindset.”
It definitely helps improve your mindset and sets your focus on your goals. It helps you make decisions. You see the numbers on paper and you know the status of your savings, debt, and spending. When it’s time to make a decision on something, you start thinking, “Oh, I’m really not that far off from buying that dream property,” or “I’m not that far off from achieving my goal of retiring early,” or whatever it may be.
It starts changing the financial decisions you make. When we think “budget” we associate it with “limits.” But on the contrary, it’s actually an empowering thing to have in place.
With a Budget, You Know Where You Stand
In Angela’s words, having a budget gives you some excitement and encourages you because you’re thinking, “Whoa, I’m saving so much money right now,” or “I’m so close to that goal!’”
Without a budget, you may not have even been aware of where you stood, and this lack of knowledge creates fear. It creates chaos in your mind and in your life because you just don’t know where you stand financially.
That being said, facing your budget can take some courage. You need to dedicate the time and effort to learn about your financial situation. Like most things, setting a budget can be emotionally-driven.
Baby Steps: Make it Simple For Yourself
We make it sound so easy, but most people in Six Figure Solo will probably find this overwhelming because most of us are running a business, managing our business money, and also managing our home budgets.
Because money scares a lot of us, this is really, really hard. It feels like an overwhelming task because you think, “When am I going to find the time to do it all? When am I going to find the time to go through all my stuff and figure this out and then call the cable company and negotiate?”
Angela has an answer for this. She says you should think about why you are thinking about money that way. If the long list of things to do is overwhelming you, then don’t think about it. Reign in your mind and just think about the first step that you need to do to get started.
The First Step: Make a List
The first step is just to sit down and list out your personal/home stuff. You can do your business second. Focus on one thing at a time.
You can use a simple spreadsheet using MS Excel or Google Sheets, or even a notebook. Follow these steps:
- List all your personal savings. Boom, that’s going to take you three minutes. Your checking account, savings account, brokerage account, 401k, IRA, and so on.
- List all your debts. Check your student loan debt and credit card debt. Done in 10 minutes.
- List all your bills. The first time you do it, just wing it. You don’t need exact and detailed numbers and information. You may have a cell phone bill, a cable bill, utilities, and so on. Write them down.
- List all your discretionary spending. Eating out, buying groceries, shopping, traveling, all those things.
Do one for your home finances, and then do the same thing for your business or your firm.
The Second Step: Examine Your Expenses
After putting everything on paper, the next step is looking through and seeing if there’s anything that you don’t need on the list. It’s important to go through and see if there’s anything you can reduce or eliminate, or if there’s anything you can be more efficient with.
Excuses about having a lack of time to do this are just that, excuses. When you feel anxious about looking at your personal finances, it’s often an emotional thing. It might have to do with how we grew up or past mistakes we’ve made with our money.
We work hard to create a life that makes us happy and to have financial freedom. But if you don’t look at your finances, how are you going to create financial freedom for yourself?
Look at this activity as, “I’m creating my budget. This is fun! Let me sit down and look at what I’m making this month and what I’m spending.”
It doesn’t have to be such a negative thing. Angela says, “I noticed when I sit down with clients and we create a budget, I’m doing something with them that they could do themselves! But the fact that I’m doing it with them makes it easier for them for some reason.”
The Result: Start Saving
Once you get deep into budgeting, there’s no going back.
You start thinking outside the box on where you could be saving a ton of money because any money that you save is money that you can put to work elsewhere.
Just as an example, if you have a car, you’re paying for:
- The car payment
- Car insurance
- Tolls, depending on where you live
Angela says, “I had a client with a car and she was paying close to $1,800 a month just in car-related expenses. When we looked at Uber she could Uber pretty much unlimited for about $250 to $300 a month. I was like, hey, it makes more sense for you to just get rid of your car!”
An Essential Step: Negotiate
Something that Angela points out to a lot of clients is the fact that you need to negotiate.
Negotiate your car insurance. If you have debts that have high-interest rates, maybe you need to consolidate or refinance those debts. If it’s a cable bill, ask yourself if you need cable or if you can get a lower rate. Same with cell phone bills. Maybe you’re with Sprint or Verizon and your bill is very expensive, but if you were to threaten to switch to T-mobile would they lower your bill? 9 times out of 10, yes, they will lower your bill.
Taking 10 minutes to take those steps can drastically reduce what you’re spending every month and can free up cash for you to be able to pay off debt or to be able to save more monthly.
Budgeting is Freeing and Empowering
I have learned that the more money you make, the more opportunities you have to invest that money. Working with Angela and learning how to budget helped shift my mindset so that I don’t feel like I’m limiting myself when I’m saying no to something. I’m actually creating and expanding more space for the things that I actually want.
Maybe, like me, you feel like a budget would be limiting, or like you’re going to be cutting yourself off from the joys of life. But this actually isn’t how budgeting is at all, at least in my experience. I don’t have to necessarily spend less, I can just spend better.
Angela says, “You’re controlling where you want your money to go, and you’re making decisions because you see what’s coming in.”
You control where your money goes, versus when you don’t have a budget and you aren’t really sure where everything is going.
Angela has a whole system that you log into when you work with her. I log into it on the daily, I go there and check all my accounts. I love it because it also shows you your net worth. It links with all of your different accounts so that way it will keep you up to date with your assets and your liabilities.
I check my net worth probably every single day. Your budget is part of your net worth.
Your debts and your assets are what makes your net worth. It was something I feared, something I could say I hated, and now it was actually something that excites me, exactly like Angela said it would.
I actually really enjoy going through and looking at my finances now! You soon will, too!
If you can believe it, I have even more knowledge to share on this topic! If you’d like to learn more about budgeting, sign up for my Six Figure Solo program! Six Figure Solo now comes in three tiers – Executive, Solopreneur, and CEO. Sign up here!