Many would agree—you can get financially stuck fast without much effort, but getting financially unstuck can feel like an attempt to climb Mount Everest. The ease that it takes to swipe our cards, be distracted by $1 or $5 bins at our favorite stores, or the temptation to process a quick loan make it all too easy to fall into the rabbit hole and end up stuck there.
We are left to enjoy knee-jerk decisions and often find ourselves lost and unmotivated when it’s finally time to switch gears. There are many ways to get financially stuck including (but definitely not limited to) the loss of a job, not paying bills on time, unexpected expenses, and the list goes on.
If you are stuck financially, you are likely familiar with how things came to be; however, some have difficulty when faced with a few mental and actionable exercises that could help thrust them forward. Here are 5 steps you can take immediately to remove some of the angst and anxiety.
There’s tons of reflection that takes place when we pause and examine our lives. I often find that many people don’t really understand or have a clear indication around what their true financial desires are because of how busy they are with their lives. Take a weekend to write down what you really want. Use this exercise whether you are single or in a relationship. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Who do I enjoy spending time with?
- Where would I like to see myself in the next 1-3 years?
- What makes me smile often?
Be about the business of your financial life and take time out to examine what’s important to you.
This is often a misstep that many people make. The journey to financial wellness often leads to feelings of embarrassment, loneliness, and shame. The conversation can be a very easy one with those that are near and dear to you. Share with them your desires to handle finances in a better, more productive way as you work on combating your financial fears.
You’d be amazed at how supportive many will be. Inform your circle that your habits may shift and that you’re not maliciously avoiding invites. When you are able to share your financial journey with others, it promotes another level of accountability. Preparing your family and friends also helps build and strengthen your support system—so tell someone.
Winning financially and self-doubt cannot co-exist. Have you ever wanted something so bad, you knew nothing could stop you and you did whatever it took to make it happen?
When it comes to your finances you will need to rely on that same internal belief that you can really bring these visualizations to life. Whatever self-doubt story that you continue to tell yourself—remove it. Speak positively and you will eventually begin to think positive. Remain optimistic.
A very important step towards achieving financial success is to get extremely organized. How would you know what percentage of your money is going towards interest fees if you never take the time to review your statements or just throw them in the garbage? What method or strategy will you use to better understand how much you’re paying out in expenses each month if you simply pay the bill without thoroughly reviewing it?
Financial organization is essential to your journey towards financial freedom. Establish “money buckets” for bills, savings, and long-term planning while keeping all receipts and important documents filed neatly away in a tote storage system. When you make time to organize your finances, the process to review them becomes less taxing—so get organized.
The only way to truly begin the journey of being unstuck financially is to start—now. Not taking action and not consistently working towards moving forward can really hinder you from making progress—and progress is what’s most important. Think back to this time last year. Where were you financially? Do you remember?
Earning money but not managing it is a backwards strategy. The only thing that comes with mismanaged money is confusion and generally underwhelming results. As you get organized, begin to develop a small plan to reach a specific goal before the year is out. What goal will you strive for? Don’t just imagine it—take action.
Over time, your financial goals and desires will likely change. This is one of the many reasons why it is vital to shake any feelings of defeat or being stuck. Take each of these steps and pair them with the determination to position yourself for a financially successful year.
*This post was originally created in partnership with Green Dot.