There never seems to be any time for introducing changes to your life. Especially big changes simply seem too daunting to implement. We find excuses, get back into our comfort zone. Life just passes us by as it always has.
One of those changes we seem to simply dread is taking control of our own finances. It seems that not knowing might be the better option when the alternative is having to face your worst fears.
It doesn’t help that “finance” has become this dreaded worse. It inspires either reactions of boredom or sheer terror. So I won’t be using the word finance much in this article. I’ll just refer to it as money management. It might be the greatest marketing trick I’ve pulled so far, as there seems to be a lot of positive meaning inferred from the word management. So here we go.
Taking control of your finances, excuse me, taking control of your money management, seems to be such a daunting task. Where do you start? What’s important and what isn’t?
Ironically, the most important part is that you START. And the quickest solution to making a task seem a lot less daunting is to break big tasks into smaller ones. Small tasks you can do in under an hour, preferably under 20 minutes. Things that will add up on the long(er)-run. But don’t require too much now.
So, what would that look like for your finances? Well, let me give you an example of how you could plan week 1:
Day 1: Plan week 1
Day 2: Research & Install app to track all your spending and give suggestions about saving
Day 3: Subscribe to at least 10 personal finance blogs (including e-mails and newsletters!)
Day 4: Brainstorm and decide on a money goal
Day 5: Do the readings of the new blogs + make notes
Day 6: Read more and summarise what you know so far
Day 7: Plan week 2 with the knowledge you have accumulated
You might be wondering: is this it? Well, for week 1 it will be. Keep in mind, you only set aside 20 minutes a day. If you want to set aside more you can, and progress will be quicker. However, I promised you a 20-minute-a-day guide, and that’s what you’ll be getting!
As you can see, week 1 is filled with research. Why? Because the most daunting part about money management tends to be ignored. Just not knowing where to start, what matters, how to deal with compound interest, debt, paying off debt etcetera. It’s important that you have experts (and a lot of bloggers are!) help guide you.
Once you feel that you’ve gotten some decent information, you can set up goals and make active changes towards those goals. Your app is still tracking your spending in the background, so you can use your 20 minutes to quickly see where your money is going, and whether you are still ok with that.
The plan for week 2 might look something like this:
Day 1: Subscribe to more personal finance blogs
Day 2: Do the readings of the blogs + add notes to older notes
Day 3: Summarize findings from finance app
Day 4: Adjust your money goal or stick with the initial one
Day 5: Break down how to reach your goal per week, per month, per year.
Day 6: Summarise what you know so far
Day 7: Plan week 3 with the knowledge you have accumulated
Once you dive into the habit of setting 20 minutes apart for this, whether it’s per day or per week, you’ll see a difference in yourself. Your mind has surrendered to the idea. Rather than dread, you might even start to feel excited about your 20 minutes. You might start to feel more excited about meeting your intermediate goals. You might get excited about the end goal.
By finally surrendering yourself to this idea of only 20 minutes, you have allowed for change.
After several weeks of this what has happened is that you have a plan, you have a habit, but much more importantly, you have got the feeling that you can make an impact and that change isn’t this big scary thing anymore. You’ve got control over it. You can make this happen.
It only takes small steps each day to figure out what you’re doing right, and what you’re doing wrong. Whether it comes to money, love, work, exercise or friendship. 20 minutes might be all it takes!