Do you feel like you’re irresponsible with your money? Like, you have no clue what’s happening, how to keep it, how to spend it, or generally deal with it in any way?
That was exactly how I felt a few years ago. And, I feel like it’s how a lot of people feel because NO ONE really teaches us how to ‘properly’ deal with money!
In my experience, there are definitely a few things you need to keep in mind to get you on the ‘responsible’ track with money and in today’s video, I’m going to break it all down so YOU can find that little part of your soul that’s totally a FINANCIAL ROCKSTAR!
Or, if that’s too much pressure, just, start being a little more ‘mature’ in handling your finances.
‘Responsible’ is a pretty relative word. Especially when it comes to money, there are many different ways to handle it.
My philosophy as a coach, and what I’ve found, is that every person is totally different. The threshold for ‘mature’ or ‘responsible’ is usually incredibly variable depending on who’s talking. However, no matter where your ‘responsible’ bar is, there are a few skills that everyone needs to build:
Skill #1: SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE
A lot of the problems that people have with money come from not seeing the bigger picture. They’ll think they have all their bills paid and then they’ll go on a little shopping spree because they forget about that annual fee that’s coming up next month.
Always have a clear idea of the bigger picture.
It’s not bad or shameful to go on those little shopping sprees. But be aware of the other things going on in your life so you can make informed decisions. Don’t just think about the ‘right now’ understand what’s happening in the whole month, the whole year even.
How to See the Bigger Picture:
Try just brainstorming all of the things that are going to happen for you throughout the year (yes YEAR). All those annual subscription fees you forget about, that yearly maintenance for your car, the gifts you buy for holidays and birthdays, everything. Take a look at the dates of all these things and put them in your calendar. NOT just when they happen, put them in the month BEFORE they happen.
Like, if Joe’s birthday is in June, you’re going to have a reminder that comes up in May that says “hey, reminder: Joe’s Birthday is next month” so that you know what your money is kind of already earmarked for. Even better, start saving in advance for that thing so you have the money when you get there!
You can do this for the whole year if you wanted to also, like if you usually spend approx $50 for Joe’s birthday, calculate how much money you’d need to save each month before that time, and put it away each month in a separate little savings account that says ‘gifts’ or ‘Joe’s birthday spending’ that way, it doesn’t hurt that much when it comes out all at once!
Skill #2: BE AWARE
Always know what’s coming in, and what’s going out.
You don’t have to keep track of every little nickel and dime, but you do need to be aware of what bills you have, and what you generally spend on things.
You need to know WHEN these things come out of your account, and again, you have to look at the bigger picture to make sure all of this lines up within the larger context.
How to Be Aware:
Yes, this usually means you need a budget. (Omgd I said the bad b-word “budgets are so terrible and restrictive”)
If you make them properly they’re not. Budget is not a bad word!!
A budget is literally just a written understanding of where your money is going. Would you rather NOT have any idea where it’s going and deal with the anxiety of never knowing if your paycheque will cover what it needs to?? I didn’t think so!
Alright that was a little sassy I’ll get off my soapbox now, ha-ha.
You have to understand the things you’re spending on match up with what’s coming in. and again, this doesn’t mean you need to keep all your receipts, or a big spreadsheet of all the purchases you make, if you’re into that sort of thing, that totally works, but for the average person, that’s probably too much detail and will make you overwhelmed.
What you need to know is what’s in these 3 categories:
Bills & Recurring Expenses
Bills are pretty easy to deal with, you’re going to just make a list of your bills or all the stuff you pay for on a regular basis that is generally the same amount. Like your phone bill maybe, or a car payment, you want to have a clear idea of what’s coming out of your account on a regular basis.
Day-to-day spending, you’re going to want to average out what you spend. This category includes things like restaurants, or going to the movies, maybe even groceries, or gas.
Those types of things can be really hard to nail down ‘exactly’ how much you spend. I suggest just looking at the last 3 months and take a look at the ‘average’ of those expenses. Break it down by paycheque and make sure you have an aggregated amount that you are going to spend within. This gives you a ‘limit’ that’s not going to mess up whatever the rest of your plan is. Without you having to count every single thing you’re spending on.
Non-recurring expenses is the 3rd category, and basically it’s all that stuff I told you not to forget about in the first part of this post! Make sure you go through, and are actually taking into account those expenses that DO come up, but aren’t on the top of your mind on a regular basis.
Skill #3: ‘CHECK-INS’
When you’re getting all of this set-up, you’re going to be looking at your bank accounts A LOT. You’re going to be talking, thinking, and BREATHING money. (k, not really but you know what I mean!) But the aim is actually NOT to be stressing about money 24/7. We want to get it to be sort of on “controlled auto-pilot”, and to me, that means check-ins.
Once you have all of this ‘money stuff’ settled and working like a well-oiled machine, you’re going to turn your focus to other things. That’s ok, that’s what we want, that money machine can run in the background all it wants to BUT ‘auto-pilot’ still needs to be controlled. You still need to check-in with your money every once in a while to make sure things aren’t going off the rails!
How to Check-In:
I recommend 3 different things: A Monthly Quick-Read, A Quarterly Check, and a Yearly Review.
A Monthly Quick-Read, is something you do every month, and it’s basically just taking a look over your accounts.
Make sure you’re READING all of your bills, taking a look at your credit card statements and bank accounts to make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be. You don’t want to be seeing any mystery fees, or charges you aren’t aware of. You want to make sure you’re doing this monthly because you want to catch things like this SUPER quickly.
During these sorts of checks, you also want to be mentally taking note of what’s working for you (especially at the beginning!)
Is there anything you didn’t have money for that you needed?
Is there anything you’re having trouble staying on-budget for?
Remember that it’s OK to go back and change the plan.
Did you tell yourself you were only going to spend $100 a month on going out to eat but find yourself consistently breaking that number?
Maybe it’s time to look at it again.
The first budget never works and we constantly change and grow with our money, so give yourself some grace and don’t hate yourself for not ‘sticking’ to what isn’t working.
On top of your regular monthly check, every 3 months you’re going to add a little extra.
You’re going to check-in with how your goals are going, are you on track with saving what you want? You’re going to check-in with any ‘process’ type things, is there anything administratively you want to change with your money? (Like switching from paper to electronic billing, or adding a reminder to you calendar to pay for that new cell phone bill you just added).
You also want to review those upcoming ‘non-recurring’ expenses. Make sure you haven’t forgotten any other expenses that might be coming up in the next 3 months. Sometimes it’s easier to remember things if the timeline is shorter, and also things might have changed since you last thought about those expenses.
Just make sure you add a regular time to keep all of those things on track.
Once a year, you’re going to want to do sort of a ‘deep dive’ on your finances.
Do everything you normally do in the other check-ins, but go a bit deeper. Make sure you’re checking in with things like bank fees. Is there a better bank you could switch to? What about a credit card?
You should also make sure you’re taking a look at your goals. What are the ‘money dreams’ that you have for the next year? For the next 5 years?
Is your current money plan going to get you there? ie. are you saving enough to reach your goal in the timeframe you want to make it in?
If you need help with your money goals, check out this post I did on SMART Financial Goals. That’s definitely how I suggest setting up your plans and will help you out a lot!
Skill #4: KNOW YOUR SAVINGS RATE
Have you ever heard the advice ‘pay yourself first’? If you have, you’ll probably know that it refers to savings. You should always be ‘paying YOURSELF’ or saving, BEFORE you pay others.
Now, obviously this isn’t like ‘save instead of paying your bills’ but it’s more saying make savings a priority. You want to be sure you HAVE the money to do the things you want - to live comfortably, and take care of yourself and the people you love. So how do you make sure you’re doing this? By knowing your savings rate.
How to Know your Savings Rate:
Your savings rate is the percentage of income that you’re keeping versus the income that you’re spending. For example, if you have an income of $4,000 a month, and you spend $3,200 this would leave $800. $800 is 20% of $4,000, so therefore your savings rate is 20%. This is generally what you want to aim for.
It’s pretty widely accepted in the ‘personal finance world’ that 20% is a good number to start with for ‘responsible money management’ which, is what this video is teaching you about.
but MY personal opinion and what I tell my clients is this:
Your savings rate should be whatever you want it to be.
I DO think you need to be saving.
I DO think you need to be thinking about the larger picture of things including big purchases like houses, or cars, or travel.
I DO think you need to be thinking about retirement and what you want your life to look like in the future.
And, all of those things need to factor in to your savings rate.
Now, obviously if you’re going through lots of debt pay-off, or you have other major expenses taking up a lot of your income, that rate may be lower and that’s OK. Some people can only manage a 5 or 10% savings rate to start and you shouldn’t feel bad about where you’re starting from. As long as you’re thinking about the future. If you’re informed, aware, and happy with the choices your making around it.
On the other hand, if you have really grand dreams of making a lot of big purchases, or having a great retirement, or even if you just happen to have lower expenses and are saving a lot more, your savings rate might have to be larger than that.
When I started my financial journey, I did it at 30% instead of 20& and when I started saving for Entrepreneurship, I ramped it all the way to 50% to reach my goals. The point here is to KNOW what that number is, and to understand, again, how it’s fitting in with the rest of your financial life. If that savings rate is too low (or, non-existent) but you want to make a large purchase in the future, you’re not going to get there and you have to realize that.
You want to be actively prepared and planning for your future so you KNOW you’re going to reach the financial dreams you want to.
Skill #5: STAY ON TRACK
When you get a sudden influx of money it can be really tempting.
A tax refund, a bonus at work, or even a new job altogether, if your income has suddenly skyrocketed it can be hard to hold yourself back from creating that ‘dream life’ that you suddenly have the ability to afford. BUT, we have to make sure we’re not undo-ing all of this work we just did on our finances. What I’m talking about is called ‘lifestyle creep’.
Lifestyle Creep happens when you change your spending the moment you get a new job, so you’re constantly living in the same situation you were before. If you were living pay-cheque to pay-cheque in your old job, but got a new one with a much better salary, instead of using that to get ahead, you change your spending habits to be more ‘luxurious’ to fit your new lifestyle; and sometimes, this even brings us over the edge to spending a lot MORE than we were before! It’s called lifestyle ‘creep’ because sometimes it happens without us even realizing it.
We can be ok living off of minimum wage and then suddenly a day comes where you realize you’re making much more than minimum wage but still feel like you ‘can’t afford’ anything! When we’re in that mindset of ‘scarcity’ we keep things close, we don’t spend a lot because we’re living without a lot. But when things suddenly switch, and you think ‘omgsh this is so much money I’ve become rich!’ sometimes it can switch to the total opposite and you’ll think you have all the money in the world when you don’t.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, I use the 50/30/20 rule.
How to Stay on Track:
If you’ve never heard of the 50/30/20 rule, it’s a widely accepted notion in the finance world that is a basis of how to structure your budget:
50% of your income should go towards ‘Essential Spending’ things like rent, utilities, even your cell phone bill (since these days it’s pretty essential!)
30% of your income can be spent on ‘Lifestyle Expenses’ things like going to the movies, or out for dinner, those ‘entertainment’ or ‘variable’ type spending that you are CHOOSING to make versus things that kind of you HAVE to pay for.
And 20% of your income should be saved.
You can play around with these numbers a bit. I told you in the last tip that I actually started out with 30% savings and 20% lifestyle, but the general ‘ratio’ should stay the same. So when you get a new salary, or an influx of money, keep this in mind. Make sure you’re going through your spending and calculating which expenses fit into what category to recognize if you’re totally off with one of the categories.
THIS will help with that lifestyle creep sensation! It will keep you ‘on track’ with how your income is distributed, and it will create a little bit of ‘structure’ that you’re able to stay within which will help give you direction.
Do you have any ‘Responsible Money’ tips? Did any of these help you out? Let me know in the comments down below!