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Many women that I’ve met in my life seem very afraid of money and wealth. It’s as if they’d rather do anything (ANYTHING!) than check their bank balance. They seem to fly by the seat of their proverbial pants letting either emotion or circumstances take control of their finances until it’s too late and they find themselves suffering the consequences.
Hopefully, that’s not you. But if it is, know that you’re certainly not alone! Take a moment to ask yourself why is that? Why are women typically less able to effectively manage their finances and accept the abundance and wealth that is their inherent right?
Is it lack of confidence? Shame? Privacy issues? Earning capacity? Fear? Anxiety? Overwhelm? I can tell you from my own experience that there are many answers. For me, it was a little of all the aforementioned. For a long time I refused to look at my bank balance terrified it couldn’t support my lifestyle. There were nights after our daughter Celeste was hospitalized for months on end in cardiac intensive care that I would wake up at 3 am terrified we would be on the street trying to pay hospital bills. Early in my life, there was a long period when any discretionary spending would cause me to throw up (literally)!
No matter the reasons for your financial reluctance, listen to what I am about to tell you. Whether you are 26, 46, or 66, effective money management is a skill you can learn. This is a goal you can achieve. This is a foundational piece of life that you need to tackle, embrace and learn to love, in order to step into the life of your dreams… confident, empowered, and happy.
Over the last ten years I’ve acquired the skills and confidence to face my finances head on. Those skills have taught me an important lesson. As women, there’s a change that happens when we learn how to effectively handle our financial lives; we feel more in control, and confident that we can tackle any situation that comes up. That feeling just can’t be beat.
So here are a few things that I’ve learned to do over the years that have made a big difference not only in my bottom line but in my life, too.
There are so many ways today to accomplish this! If you get a regular paycheck, you can choose to have the deposit split up into two different accounts. Take 10% (or whatever amount you choose) and put it directly into a savings account via direct deposit.
There are also several apps that will automatically deposit money in small amounts every time they detect a change in spending. This is a terrific way to grow your savings automatically.
If you don’t know your destination, how can you decide how you’ll get there? All financially-savvy women have financial goals, both short-term, and long-term. Once you have a goal, you can outline the steps you need to take to accomplish it. And be prepared to rearrange the path to the goal, or the goal itself. You can’t predict the future – a marriage, a new baby, an unexpected illness, a new home, a new job – so be driven to reach the goal while also being a bit flexible as your life goes through normal changes.
It’s good for your credit rating to utilize your credit but do so with the utmost control. It can be far too easy to splurge and find yourself completely maxing out a card or worse, going over the limit. You’ll ruin your credit in a heartbeat this way. Know your credit score, and know that everything you buy on credit will come with the potential to change your score. Get in the habit of checking your credit score quarterly to keep an eye on those numbers. If you already have credit card debt, the goal should be to wipe it out. This requires you to make more than the minimum payments each month, and possibly significantly more if you have a high interest rate. Use an online calculator to find out how long it will take to reduce the credit card debt to less than 30% of the credit limit, and then stay under 30% consistently.
While money matters can get emotional, money and finance is not an emotional subject. So where money is concerned, learn to see things as they truly are, not as you feel they are or feel they should be. Reality can be harsh, but honesty with yourself is the only way you can finally take control over your financial situation – and change it for the better, if necessary. Learn where and when you tend to emotionally spend money. Keep a spending diary for two or three months, and I guarantee that patterns will emerge. When you’re armed with this knowledge, you can begin to make better choices when your resistance is the lowest. And if you can do it then, you can do it all the time!