A New Year is a good time to make change (to your finances & yourself); desire is easy, but change is hard.
Will you quit?
I Quit! How many times have you felt like saying that? How many times have you wanted to quit fighting, struggling, going to work every day, trying to balance the budget, keeping the car on the road, keeping a warm roof over your head and the heads of your family, keeping food in the bellies of those who rely on you, and, well, the list can be endless.
So many times we wish we could take the easy road and live without worry. So many times we forget that there is really no such thing as living without worry. Even those with money have their problems and some of those problems could (and often do) drag them down to poverty and homelessness with the drop of a dime.
So how can we make the changes needed to make our finances and our lives easier?
Finances are the route of many issues for virtually everyone. To help fix your finances, you must make changes to how you live. Sounds easy doesn't? Change how I live and 'presto' my finances are fixed? Sorry, life just doesn't work that way**sigh**. Change takes time, especially when it comes to your life (which, of course, is affected by your finances).
So, with the New Year fast approaching, what can you do to make the necessary changes required? Is it possible to make those changes immediately? Is it only a trick designed to make you keep striving for more while losing control piece by piece? Is it just a dream to want more for you and your family? My answer to these questions is yes, but it will take a lot of willpower and hard work.
Slow and steady or fast and furious, whichever way is easier for you. But you do have to take that first step!
The steps can be fast or slow to accomplish, but they all will be hard.
The Miracle Steps are listed below! (Not really, but we can all dream, can't we?)
First of all you should make a list of everything you have. Be sure to include things that are not important for survival but that belong to you like RV’s, boats, extra coats, lots of shoes, accessories, second cars, tents, holiday decorations, and maybe the extra furniture that you stored at Aunt Gerry’s down the road. Take your time with this list. Record even the smallest thing you have like pencils and erasers (well maybe not that detailed). Take a moment to look in your sheds and trunks of cars. Take a moment to look in those totes you put away two years ago and can’t remember what’s in them. You’ll be surprised at how much you really have once you begin to list it all.
What now? I know that you just made the longest list of your life. You are now exhausted and fairly certain that it was all in vain. Not really. The list is to help you see what you actually do have. If you were to prioritize this list you might find that you really do not need that much because you already have what you need.
Now come the changes
Do you have things that you need but do not have? We all do no matter how much we have. Things like repairs for the car or boots for the kids. These things are so hard to do because after you pay the bills you barely have anything left, right. So you will need to change how and what you do.
This next list, I'm sure you will agree, is going to seem a bit silly. But it is necessary to the changes you will need to make. Get a small notebook, one you can easily carry in a pocket or purse (spouses should each have their own). Now do the things you normally do and record it in your book. Things that cost money are the important ones, but then you might not think that driving fifty miles to get to your favorite restaurant (for example) is a cost. This trip will most likely make the dinner far more expensive than you think.
Now, what did you do during a typical day that you could stop doing and save money? Examples could be: skip the second cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop; leave the pretty scarf on the shelf because you already have several at home; don't get those football tickets because you can see the game at home or stay within your town limits when going out for things. Instead of using that money for things you don't need, put into a fund for the things you will need in the future.
But it is so hard you say?
The malls are so big with so much to see and buy. The consignment stores have things that look new for less than half the price. The holidays are so expensive. I know, I hear you. I have the same problem. But, as you see things you would like to buy, think about what you already have and what you might need more than that item. It will be a struggle at first, but you have to do it. Well, not have to, but it will help you to change.
Also, ohhhhh, maybe I'll whisper this one: perhaps you could sell some of the things you have to get money for your shopping. And remember that consignment shops are not just for cheap shopping.
.....boats, fancy cars, fancy restaurants, an outfit for every occasion, a house bigger than Texas, a swimming pool that costs more to maintain than most people's homes.....
Let's talk about THINGS.......
Here is another way to look at it. You have THINGS. You have wanted THINGS all your life and are proud to say you now have them. The THINGS you have give you prestige and make people see you in a different, but better, light. THINGS are important in life. THINGS keep us happy. THINGS make us better than others. THINGS mean we have achieved success, right?
But wait,the car needs an oil change and the kids are outgrowing their clothes. The roof has begun to leak in the kitchen and the chimney needs to be cleaned. But you don’t have money for any of that because you have THINGS that make you look good in the eyes of others. Well, what about your eyes and the eyes of those who rely on you? Do you look good in their eyes because you have THINGS? Or do you look like you have failed in their eyes because the THINGS you have don’t help fix the roof or buy new clothes or change the oil in the car. More important, by buying those THINGS (items you will use once, maybe twice in your lifetime) you use the money needed to balance the budget and end the worries. Hmmmmm, think you might need to rethink your thoughts about all those THINGS?
Back to the original subject.....
You have completed the steps and whittled your way through the things you don’t need. Perhaps you now have money to purchase things you actually need. But, let’s face it, you don’t have enough to get everything you need, right? No, most people don’t; but you did get some of the things you needed, and reduced the amount of clutter in your environment at the same time.
I hear you, I hear you-- “so what," you say, "I don’t have THINGS anymore and so I have lost my prestige! I can’t tell people how wealthy I am because I no longer have THINGS!"
If flaunting your wealth is more important than achieving things that are really needed for you and your family, well, I feel sorry for your family. They are the ones that will suffer while you are out flaunting all of your wonderful THINGS. You only make enemies who are green with envy when you flaunt. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones. They are only trying to keep up with you.
Don't stop trying, you can change!
That's a cheering statement. You can chant it to yourself whenever you feel like getting out there and spending money you don't have for things you don't need (no, I don't want you to be a scrooge). Your life is not over just because you are trying to change your spending habits. In fact, spending some money on going out now and then is a good way to help everyone one relax and enjoy life. Just be careful about where and when. For instance: don't spend money for the whole family to go to a tractor pulling contest if the whole family doesn't like tractor pulling. You could, however, get tickets for the fair that is having the tractor pull and the family can enjoy the fair while you enjoy your tractor pull.
I know it sounds real simple, yet it is probably the hardest thing that you have done in a long time. I understand that, too. It's your money, why can't you spend it your way? You can! But when Joey shows up late for school for the third time in the first semester because he had to walk, and without a lunch, the school board, family and friends might think something is not quite what it should be......just saying.
I hope that I have helped in some small way to bring a brighter looking future to you and your family. All it takes is a little effort on your part and things will get better. So, is everyone ready with their pens or keyboards? Ok, ready, set, LIST!
PS : don’t forget to take lots of breaks to play with the kids or enjoy a stay-at-home meal with your spouse and family. That will help you to see what is needed and what is not needed when you resume your list-making.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds
More by this Author
Help with cashing your first paycheck.
A quick, easy budget idea with ideas on easy ways to cut your spending.
Information on why cats behave the way they do. Along with a bit of a gallery of my own babies.