Your money journey or money history is a reflection of how you deal with money based on your personal history. Have you had an impactful money experience, good or bad? What did you learn from your parents about money?
Behavioral Impact of Money
Past experiences can quickly creep into our thought process. Think back to how your parents handled their money. Did they spend or save? Many financial advisors report hearing their clients say, “I know I need to start saving and yet I don’t. This commonly heard phrase is a result of an established financial behavior or block.
Changing Bad Habits
Authors Preston and Hanson write, “HUMANS ARE EMOTIONAL creatures. We’re often drawn to negative behaviors, even when we know we should be doing something else” (Preston & Hanson, 2016). If you face financial paralysis which is too severe you may need to seek the counsel of a financial behavioral specialist. However, if your issues are not debilitating, maybe just facing your fear and learning to adopt a new way of reacting or thinking about money will suffice. The following are some simple tips for starting your financial journey.
Money Diary aka Budget
Have you ever found yourself thinking, I make good money, I just don’t know where it all seems to go? It’s time to adjust your mental mindset and establish a money diary. I use the term money diary as opposed to budget. In reality, they are the same, but budgeting sounds like drudgery, whereas a money diary has a more appealing tone like journalling, which many people find enjoyable. Many free online budget tools can help facilitate tabulations, so let your computer do the hard work for you. A good first place to check is your bank. See if they offer a free budget tool as little information will have to be entered by you. They often have integration features that allow you to import accounts from other financial institutions giving you one place to see all of your income, spending, and savings. The bottom line, when you track expenses, you tend to spend less.
Establish a Savings Plan
Once you start working with a money diary you will have a better understanding of your monthly numbers and how much money is left at the end of the month for savings. If you don’t have many discretionary funds left over at the month’s end, start with a nominal savings plan and set aside $50 per month. This is a good first step and over time as you work with your money diary you will be able to determine if you can increase your saving contributions. The key is to just get started.
Maintaining a debt-free lifestyle is a responsible adult strategy, but many fail to adhere to this routine. It’s easy to fall into a spending habit that you can not afford. If you want a new TV, the retail stores are usually quite happy to establish a payment plan for you, but it comes at the high cost of interest you owe. That good deal you get for buying the TV on sale isn’t a good deal when you pay for it over time and incur high-interest rates. Be honest with yourself, with an example like a TV purchase, do you want or do you need a new TV?
Freedom from debt can have amazing and positive effects on our lives! Imagine having only minimal monthly bills which cover essential living expenses, contributing to your saving or investment plan, and still having some discretionary funds available for fun things you want to do or purchase.
Money habits set the tone for your financial well-being. Many money issues stem from past experiences, but you can break the habit. Seek the help of a qualified financial professional. Consultation may increase confidence for those who, “want to make sure they have not overlooked any important considerations that could end up disadvantaging them”(Somers, PH.D., 2018). Start with some small steps. Establish a money diary/budget, begin to save or invest for your future, and stop buying what you don’t need or can’t afford. Take a deep breath and dive in, your financial well-being depends on starting good money habits today.
About the Author
Author, Marianne Martini Nolte, Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner, provides fee-only, fiduciary, independent, financial planning and investment management. Her firm, IMAGINE FINANCIAL SERVICES (IFS) is a registered investment advisor offering advisory services in the State of California and in other jurisdictions where exempted. Marianne’s focus is serving Women and Young Professionals from generations X, Y, and Z. This article is intended as a high-level view.
All written content is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of IFS, unless otherwise specifically cited. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to other parties’ informational accuracy or completeness.
For more in-depth information, please reach out:
Marianne Martini Nolte, CFP®
Imagine Financial Services
Phone, (760) 472-5155
Preston, B., & Hanson, B. (2016, May 20). 3 behavioral phenomena that impact your finances. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2016-05-20/3-behavioral-phenomena-that-impact-your-finances
Somers, PH.D., M. (2018). Advice that sticks: How to give financial advice that people will follow. In ADVICE THAT STICKS: How to give financial advice that people will follow (ISBN: 978-1-78860-014-9, p. 39). S.l.: PRACTICAL INSPIRATION PUB.