When I start working with clients, there are often a few goals that I see come up again and again. Having a healthy financial situation – like having a healthy body, living environment, or self-image – is part of a solid foundation to access deeper levels of courageous growth and spark the change you want to see in your life.
We all absorbed early messaging about money: What it means, how we can get it, what we can and cannot do with it. These messages and the subsequent choices we make about money, inform our current financial picture and our relationship to money today.
Until you have taken dominion over the ‘out of control’ areas in your life – be it debt or unhealthy spending habits or any number of other areas we avoid – real shift is not possible. This gets clear within just a few sessions with a coach as the areas we most try to avoid come fully to the surface. The good news? This process, once we tackle it, will unlock a whole new level of self-authority and responsibility, changing forever how you hold your financial situation and putting you squarely into the driver seat of your life.
4 Steps to Financial Freedom (A Starter Guide)
Like other practices in coaching, our relationship with money starts with self-trust: Do you have the courage to take a hard look at your current beliefs and practices around money, and then to devise a plan to start making progress towards your financial goals? Can you be with yourself, overcoming judgements and shame to look at your finances from a place of neutrality, and start to make consistent shifts over time?
If taking control of your finances – or earning more – is on your list of 2019 goals, here is my basic breakdown of the steps needed to start to get closer to financial freedom:
1) Start by investigating your underlying beliefs about money. We first need to get to the root thoughts/beliefs about money and rewrite them to serve us. Many books, including the ones I recommend below, can be fantastically helpful for starting to change your thoughts about money and see how you can shift from scarcity to abundance: The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth and You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. Each includes helpful exercises to start to shift fear and denial and shame around money, and instead start to vision your ideal financial picture.
2) Get an accurate picture of your current financial situation. The critical first step is understanding your monthly spending. It can be a liberating experience. Start by taking an audit of current spending without judging your spending or getting ahead of yourself to set a budget. Some online tools, like mint, will help you do this; however I use a basic excel tracking sheet of my own devising (pdf here) that fills in spending across broad categories. You can track two or three months of spending and average your monthly expenses from there – building out monthly reoccurring charges, incidental charges and annual totals. Keep notes in the margins about where there might be savings and what constitutes a category. Go as detailed or as broad as you like – I find that when you do this process once you generally have a good handle on where you are, and only need to check back in and tweak/update every quarter or so. After you have a handle of your average spending, you can compare it across your revenue (money in) and begin goal setting.
3) Make a plan for spending and earning moving forward. Once you have a good picture of where you are and have set some goals, your options are: Spend less, make more, or some combination of both. You
may choose to focus on new income opportunities, or cut back spending
in certain areas over time. Start by putting your attention on what you
would like your ideal budget to look like, setting new targets for
yourself around earning and saving. With
this strong vision in mind, you can really dive into upping your
financial game and starting to build the attraction that will make money
easy, fun and abundant.
4) Ask for help. This step is critical to busting through the shame many of us carry about our behaviors around money. Find financial professionals to help, ask trusted friends who are good with money, or share with a few people who can hold you accountable to your new behaviors. Spend time with people who have healthy relationships with money, and seek out tools, resources and reading that reinforce your new view. Some financial planning sites help beginners at a low cost and specialty coaches help people identify and release scripts they have around money. Feel free to reach out for referrals.
This process can feel daunting at first, but once you have taken that first hard look to get an accurate picture of your financial situation, you can start to feel the energy and freedom that lies in taking dominion of this area of your life. Onwards to financial freedom!