Many of us may not have any major financial issues we need to tackle but would like to get better with money in a more general sense. Others don’t know where the money goes and feel a lack of control. A financial diary, similar to a daily journal or food journal, may help you stay focused. However, that is about more than just tracking the numbers of what you save and spend each day or writing down the money goals you hope to achieve. It’s also an ongoing conversation with yourself about your emotions along the way. It’s your money story and the point is not to have a perfect account of your spending but to become more conscious and aware.
Make it Pretty
One of the secrets to staying on track is enjoying the process. Beautiful, unique, and colourful journals representing your personality are an excellent way to stay encouraged to write. Alternatively, if you have a small three-ring binder and three-hole paper readily available, that will work just as well. If you prefer to write digitally, there are also a variety of journal apps to choose from.
Understand Your Money Story
Money is such a deeply emotional issue. It’s tied up in our relationships and our core sense of self-worth. Money stories stem from childhood experiences and significant life events in adulthood (eg. divorce). As a child, you may have grown up with ideas such as “Money is the root of all evil,” “Nice girls don’t talk about money,” or “Money is not important.” As an adult, if you’ve been through a divorce or other financial trauma, you may have subconscious views of those events as failures. Having a financial diary will help keep you in a mindset of no judgment and self-expression, where you’ll discover, over time, how your financial decisions may have been affected by those money stories.
Set your financial goals
What is you want to achieve? How long will it take? What are the steps you need? Financial goals are savings, investments or spending targets you hope to achieve over a set period of time. It could be saving for retirement, paying off a credit card debt or starting a business. The goal-setting process involves deciding what goals you intend to reach; calculating the amount of money needed and other resources required as well as planning how long you expect to take to reach each of your goals. Write them down and learn to prioritise.
Know Your Worth
When women feel confident, relaxed, and empowered about themselves and soul-caring, they have more clarity and confidence when handling their financial care. Creating value in your life, financially and personally, starts with valuing yourself. You are worth it! Each day, write down one specific thing you appreciate about yourself. It could be something not specifically related to money. Something as simple as, “It’s easy for me to make friends.” Friendships and connections are an essential part of our self-worth and physical health. Being specific immediately makes me feel more valuable than merely writing “my health.”
Visualize with Positive Daily Financial Affirmations
Each day is a new opportunity for a fresh start. What we think and speak is what we eventually believe. You deserve a financially abundant life defined only by you. Visualizing your life after you reach your financial goals and writing positive daily financial affirmations will help keep you moving forward. For example, in the past, you may have given your financial power away to someone else. A money story in your mind tells you you’re not good enough to handle finances independently. Turn that around to read, “I am more than good enough to handle finances independently,” and write this every day in your financial diary until you believe it with your heart.
Celebrate Small Successes
According to the Prudential Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women Report, women feel they are more confident in their ability to manage short-term goals and day-to-day finances than in planning for and meeting long-term financial goals. Small successes lead to less overwhelming situations and increase financial confidence. While it’s admirable to set a gorgeous goal such as paying off all debt, creating smaller, specific micro-goals are more effective in helping you reach success early on.
When you have small successes in your short-term goals, you will have more confidence in long-term planning. Turn the larger goal of paying off debt into a micro-goal by deciding on a particular monetary amount that you will spend less each month or a specific amount to apply to debt each month. For example, if your goal is to spend 10% less each day and apply that saving towards a debt, when you accomplish that goal you can write down how that makes you feel.
Besides, just as important as tracking the numbers, you deserve to celebrate every success along the way. Treating yourself for goals achieved is essential to help keep moving forward. It could be something as small as the new nail colour or lipstick you’ve wanted to try. Over time, you’ll see every success turning into beautiful long-term accomplishments.
Practice patience and take time to breathe
On average, it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. Life can get hectic, distractions are everywhere, and it takes time to make lasting changes to reach your financial goals. Set aside 15-20 minutes to track your money, thoughts, and feelings at the beginning or end of each day, however it works best for you and your schedule. Create a repeating event in your calendar as a reminder. There may be an occasional day when you’re too tired or forget to write in your financial diary, and that’s OK.
When life gets hectic, you may find yourself getting off track. Your financial life will ebb and flow depending on life circumstances. Don’t let that deter you from aiming for your goals. Sometimes, we move two steps forward and one step back, and that’s OK. You did nothing wrong, and it’s not a failure. Allow yourself the time and space to breathe. Give yourself the grace you need to work through each challenge and acknowledge that no one is perfect, and you are on the right path. If you feel yourself becoming stressed, meditation is excellent for bringing calmness back into your mind and guiding you back on track.
One year from now
Financial success is not just about tactics or to-dos. It’s about the strategy you apply to your entire way of thinking about money. Where do you want to be one year from now? How will you feel when you get there? By keeping a financial diary, one year from now, you’ll be thankful that you began this journey to financial wellness because when you identify those things you can control and take responsibility for, that puts you in a position to clearly understand how you can change your actions moving forward to get the outcome you want. You’ll be able to see the progress of your goals and, just as important, the transformation of your soul.