Practically every household in the entire world has felt the financial pinch over the last few years. In Ireland, we seemed to go from being a cash rich nation to a financially burdened nation overnight. For years we had enjoyed a glorious time of being able to buy what we wanted to buy, travel where we wanted to go and treat ourselves to whatever we fancied at that moment. Very many of us used our houses like ATM’s – whenever we need cash for something, we marched off to the Bank and took out a loan. Then the crash happened and suddenly we needed to tighten our belts which felt ‘new and uncomfortable’ for many of us.
The subject of money often comes up during coaching with my clients. Some may have come for that very reason while for others it just comes up as part of the process. Many of them admit that money controls them and they have no idea how much it costs them to live month to month. This inevitably leads to feelings of fear and anxiety and can often put additional unnecessary strains on a relationship.
The good news is that with a little work and a WILLINGNESS TO try, it is possible to get back in the driving seat of your finances. Here are some of the things I ask my clients to do for one month which may help you:
1) STOP BURYING YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND: you will never get to grips with your finances if you have no idea how much you are spending every month. Set up some sort of spread sheet and record EVERY day how much you spent the previous day…. you must not cheat – record everything by category – food/gas/electricity/going out/clothes etc etc. This might seem like hard work but it will be worth it. At the end of the month you will be able to identify quite easily where your money is going. Be prepared for a few eye openers….
2) LEARN TO SAY NO – if your finances don’t allow it, don’t do it. (remember this is just for one month)
3) LOOK AT WHERE YOU ARE SPENDING YOUR MONEY – is it possible for you to reduce your outgoings by bringing in your lunch 3 days of the week instead of buying out every day? Where in your life could you make small savings?
4) LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVES – could you walk to work instead of always getting the bus – two advantages in one – not only will you be saving a few euro but you might even loose a few pounds in the process. What other alternatives could you do?
5) ARE YOU PAYING FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE NOT USING – one lovely lady client was paying out on a monthly membership for a gym only to admit that she hadn’t been in a whole 12 months!! Are you paying out for something that you get no benefit from? If so cancel it.
6) BEFORE YOU BUY SOMETHING – STOP and ask yourself ‘Do I really need/want this?” Very often we impulse buy when we are feeling tired, lonely, bored. If after 2 minutes you still want it go ahead and buy it.
7) START SAVING!! There is nothing as motivating as seeing the euros increasing. So open a savings account or buy a piggy bank. The real benefit of a savings account is that when you do decide to splurge on something, you can be guaranteed you will really appreciate it as you are less likely to impulse buy on your hard earned savings.
8) CONSIDER GETTING ANOTHER INCOME STREAM – is there something you love doing that you could get paid for?
9) STOP TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONES – I am as guilty of this as you. Be your own person and if something doesn’t interest you, don’t do it or don’t buy it.
10) SHOP ONLINE – this has worked a treat for me. I was often guilty of grabbing a take away mid week just because I had nothing in for dinner. Now I plan my weekly meals in advance and do all my shopping on line. This not only ensures I have everything in I need, it also means I’m not tempted by offers that I don’t really need.
I hope some of the above tips will help you. In my experience, the first point is the most important on this list. Once you know what you have coming in versus what goes out, you will be in a much better position. That knot in your stomach will soon start to disappear and you will feel much more confident around your finances.