Money is one of the biggest stressors out there. Maybe you never seem to have enough in your bank account to pay off your credit card bills in full or you aren’t sure if you’re putting enough of your income into savings. Personal finance is a big, nebulous area for many people. Women especially seem to bear the brunt of financial stress and worry. According to BlackRock’s 2017 Investor Pulse survey, while 58 percent of men have a positive view of their financial future, only 46 percent of women do. That's why I want to empower women through taking control of their finances. It’s time to stop worrying about your finances and take the first step to doing something about them.
Set goals for yourself
In order to really take control of your finances, you need to set goals. Ask yourself these questions: What do I want to do? What do I want money to do for me? These two questions are the key to financial planning. What are your goals? Paying off credit card debt? Traveling across Europe next summer? Buying an apartment in three years? Think about how you envision your future and how money affects those hopes and dreams. Set your goals accordingly and write them down! At Brooklyn Plans, we host financial vision boarding events to help people visualize their goals and stay motivated. It’s a wonderful reminder to keep working hard.
Take it one step at a time
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to completely overhaul your finances in one swoop. Take control of your finances one step at a time. It’s okay if you aren’t in a position to pay off your debt and save for retirement simultaneously. Do it in increments. For example, if you don’t have a savings account, open one up and put $100 in it. Make your next goal be to put another $100 in it. Once you’ve achieved that, raise your goal to $500. By taking it step by step, you’re more likely to stay on track and reach your goals.
Hold yourself accountable
If you are determined to achieve your goals and master financial planning, you need to hold yourself accountable. Make a money date with yourself or your partner each week or month to evaluate how you are doing and if you are succeeding. Be as honest and as objective as you can. If you need some extra support, share your goals with a trusted friend or family member who can continue to encourage you and remind you to stay on track. There’s strength in numbers!
Know when to give yourself a break
The most important thing you can do is to give yourself a break. You don’t have a degree in finance or economics, and they don’t teach financial planning in school. It’s okay that you haven’t had the tools to properly take control of your financial future. You can’t fix that overnight. That’s why it’s best to set goals and take baby steps. Overall, be gentle with yourself on this journey. Financial planning doesn’t have to be stressful or painful. If you follow these steps, you might even find what I believe: that financial planning is exciting, rewarding, and empowering! You just have to get started!
Kristen Euretig, CFP®, owns Brooklyn Plans, LLC, a financial planning firm dedicated to helping today’s women.