Your Personal Finance Journey starts today. Remember, no financial journey is easy (nothing good ever is). Let’s tackle this finance quest! Together, we’ll work to get you and your family set up for success. Ready? Here we go!
Finance Journey (of a Lifetime!)
Table of Contents
- 1 Finance Journey (of a Lifetime!)
- 2 A Candid Self-Assessment before your Financial Journey
- 3 Financial Journey Partners: A Healthy Mind, Body and Soul
- 4 My Financial Journey: Vision and Goals
- 5 Habits will Make or Break Your Personal Finance Journey
- 6 Learn from Mistakes made on your Finance Journey
- 7 Staying Motivated on Your Personal Finance Journey
- 8 Ready for more? Next on Your Personal Finance Journey
You are likely here to get something done; you have already accepted the challenge of starting your personal finance journey. On this journey, we will develop Mêtis, flesh out your money matters with a stout bulwark tough enough to make it through the storms and deep enough to make the sunny days even warmer.
They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. In the same sense, your journey to financial independence, or whatever the goal, will start with you taking that first initial motion to move forward!
Starting your Personal Financial Journey
Are you tired of treading water, running in circles, thinking about what you could do with “all that money” if you could only just get ahold of some? Better yet, what if someone just gave it to you, right? We have all heard one form of those questions, or another, rattle around in our heads. The key is that we have to take charge of our own path. Don’t wait! Break out of the mold, and become your own master of your money. Wield it with Mêtis in mind!
This series is going to walk through the basics, the fundamentals, and work through the introductions needed to help in starting your personal finance journey. Once we go through the basics together, you’ll develop, hone, and perfect your own style. You’ll have your signature way of dealing with all things related to money.
A Candid Self-Assessment before your Financial Journey
Before you can get to where you want to go, you’ve got to figure out where you are. Be honest. The saying “that which gets measured improves” is really helpful for this first, critical step. My friend, don’t be afraid to ask hard questions about yourself and your financial situation. Ask a close friend, parent, spouse, etc., and ask them for their honest assessment of you (just don’t get mad when they give you some constructive feedback!)
Quick Questions for your Finance Quest
- Do I have a plan for my finances? How much do I even make each month?
- Am I taking advantage of my employer’s retirement plans?
- Why am I living paycheck-to-paycheck? Do I even know where it all goes?
- Where do I want to be in 1, 5, 10, 20+ years?
- If I encounter a financial emergency, do I have anything on reserve to draw from?
- Am I paying any interest on credit cards?
- I really don’t care about the nuts-and-bolts – I just want to automate this whole thing!
- I want to become a millionaire… How do I get there?
- How do I balance retirement savings with living a full life now?
- What are my financial biases? Do I even have any?
We will go over more of these in this blog. Remember, mastering the way you handle money is literally a journey of a lifetime. Make a choice. You get to pick how you want to live! If you go through this and you’re on track, then find something you can improve on.
If you’re completely overwhelmed, buckle up and I will help you get started. You’ve got the right approach; you’re taking ownership of your future.
Ok, now that you know where you are. Let’s take aim at the target, and keep moving toward the goal!
Financial Journey Partners: A Healthy Mind, Body and Soul
This is a marathon, not a race. The finance journey is rough at times, and you’ll need to get your head straight. Think of the colloquialism “When times get tough, the tough get going” and then dig in. Consider starting your personal finance journey with an introspective look at these next points.
Keep your Mind Sharp, and Cut out the Junk
I recommend the Headspace app (there are others like it as well) and applying yourself to their basic program is one way to get your mind right. Stay positive, stay optimistic. Take in a good book, go for a walk outside, reflect on an inspirational speech. Avoid gossip, tabloids, and too much of any one thing…
This is really important as well. It doesn’t have to be a Mat Fraser level of exercise, but you should try to break a sweat, get your heart rate up, and really work out for 15-20 minutes or so. Just start with some push-ups, air-squats, and planks if you have nothing else. From there, push yourself and grow a little in that space each month. This will help with your mental state as well.
Satisfy your Soul
Your soul is your eternal self, identity, and core. Make sure you’re addressing and tending to your spiritual self as well. I see this as different from a sharp mind and a healthy body. This is deeply rooted and drives everything we do. For me, this means reading my Bible, spending time in prayer, and journaling. Take time to wrestle with questions you have at a binary level. It is healthy to seek answers!
With mind, body, and soul aligned and firing on the same cylinders, let’s set some goals…
My Financial Journey: Vision and Goals
There is a lot written out there about setting goals and going through the exercise of setting SMART goals, etc. I know my employer requires annual goals to be formally written, submitted and reviewed by multiple levels of management every year. The exercise is what you make of it. People can and do get lost in the “flashy” goal-setting feel of it all and end up overwhelmed and out of gas on the side of the road. The flip side is that we get stuck in the doldrums doing nothing.
Either way, we find ourselves out of the race. Avoid the situation by grounding your vision, and aligning your goals to that!
Good Goals are Rooted in a Vision
This is not a trance-like state of mind where you hear voices in your head. Rather, have an original, organic, optimistic concept in your mind about where you and your family (current or otherwise) would like to be. The more detail the better. While on your personal finance journey, this may change and evolve. That’s great! As it does, try to think about what you want to be doing with your free time, your finances, and your life.
From the vision, you can then take steps to design and build some good goals to get you there. The goals support the vision and help you critically evaluate what you think you want. When you are working through this step, think about what you want to do to make the world a better place as well. I recommend expanding your scope beyond your immediate self and family: what can you give back to society? What are your passions? and how can they come alive?
Write it All Down
Brainstorm. Don’t worry if you have it all perfectly organized at first. Even if you don’t have all the minor details ironed out, the key is to get a direction and get started in that direction.
Next, or even while you’re brainstorming, write a mantra for yourself. Come up with a motto, phrase, Bible verse, or something symbolic and iconic that captures what you want to be known for, and something that you’re going to live for and live out to the best of your ability.
Habits will Make or Break Your Personal Finance Journey
You need good habits in the form of balancing the budget, investing, and in all things money. On your personal finance journey, if this is something you know is lacking in your skill warehouse, try starting with something small. Then build your momentum throughout the day into harder things or the things which you are resisting. To a certain extent, this ties in with setting your goals; the good habits you form and the elimination of bad habits will directly affect your ability to complete the goals you set for yourself.
Taking the Plunge with Cold Showers
Yes, you read that right! Really, you must try this. My day starts with a cold session lasting 3-5 minutes every morning. I take a deep breath, recite my mantra, and then crank the cold on full bore. Breathing through the next few moments I focus on my priorities (and try to ignore the desire to get out warm). That little act sets the tempo for the rest of my day. It is an exercise of mind over body and snowballs into a productive day where I get. work. done. son.
Get Control over your Spending/ Get Control over your “Whatever”
You can do it; build habits and use them as tools to help you blow your goals out of the water. For more on this mindset and habits in general, I recommend Mr. Duhig’s inspiring read “Better, Smarter, Faster” to everyone!
Ask yourself: what is one thing you can stop doing right now; what is one thing you can start? Use the “Steps” app to create a variety of different types of habits you’d like to do or stop doing. I find this is a great way to keep a visual reminder front-of-mind, and I like that I can track progress (or address areas where I’m not meeting the mark).
Learn from Mistakes made on your Finance Journey
The good news is that you don’t have to be perfect to succeed in managing your money. The bad news, if you will, is that you’ll make mistakes because you’re not perfect (and no one is). In the midst of the storms in life, keep focused on where you want to be, review your goals, and get it done.
I highly recommend journaling! Especially in something fundamental like the way you are taking charge of your money matters. Just write a little, or whenever you feel like jotting a thought down. However it works for you, start writing your story! When something works well, take note of it. When you find something that gives you trouble, or when you come across an obstacle, write that down too. If you find a great book (or blog, hint hint) that has something you’d like to recall later, write it down. Before long, you’ve got a great source of reflection, encouragement, and accountability all in one spot.
In all of it, the point is to constantly be improving. Stay positive, and look at each challenge as a unique chance to improve. I know that is far easier to share in print than to live it out. There have been plenty of times where I have been to the familiar end-of-the-rope moment. It is in those moments where you truly find who you are and figure out what is important. Use those times to sharpen and refine your approach. Stick with it!
Staying Motivated on Your Personal Finance Journey
Congratulations! You’re well on your way to changing your life for the better. Along the path you’ve chosen, you’re going to encounter people who generally support you on your path; there will also be “those people” crossing your path. Don’t waste too much time with them. It has been said we are the company we keep. That goes for good influences and bad.
Not to get too philosophical, deep, or otherwise psyched up… But do keep in mind that to practice Mêtis, change your life, and care for those you love, you’ll need to stay motivated and that means joining forces with like-minded people. It also means surrounding yourself with positive influences and atmosphere. Like an oak tree growing from an acorn, the right environment makes a lot of difference in the end.
I recommend setting up an accountability group of some sort or another. I’ll be the first to admit: the term sends chills down my spine. But, labels are only the surface level. The point here is to find some way of regularly checking in with someone you trust enough to call you out when you’re off the path. You can do the same for them! Also, consider groups as well. For example, my wife and I encourage and support each other, but we also find a high level of motivation in meeting with other couples who are changing their lives, too.