The other day I wrote about knowing where you want to go in life and visualizing your dreams.
As I describe in my book, Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money, think of your financial plan like preparing for an epic trip. You have to have a destination so you can start budgeting and figure out the best route.
Now we look at the other point on your ‘map' -where you are now.
You can't create a map for your goals without knowing where you starting from.
It sounds easy enough, but sometimes can be stressful to examine where you are now.
It can also liberating and empowering.
Being a personal finance writer, I'm going share a few of my favorite tools out there that can make it easier for you!
Getting a Snapshot of Your Life
Seeing your numbers can be powerful. You get to see exactly what your assets and debts are. The problem for many is that they have all this information scattered about that they only have a vague idea of how well/bad they're doing.
The great news is that you can get a snapshot of your finances pretty quickly. There are some free and powerful tools that can gather all of that data.
If you're just getting started with your finances, Mint's visuals and reminders can be handy. If you have a lot of accounts between the two of you, empower can make it simple to keep tabs on them all. Finally, Tiller hands down the best way to customize your financial snapshot plus they have an awesome and supportive community.
They're all great choices, so choose the one that works for your situation and style.
With about 20 minutes of effort you can get a big picture view of all your accounts and also drill down to the transaction level.
Dump the Blame Game, Embrace the Lesson
This might the most difficult part – seeing the actual balances in your accounts.
When I did this as a part of our year end review, I was shocked when I realized just how much money was wasted. (Did I mention I'm a personal finance writer? Whomp, whomp)
Once I got over the initial disappointment I started brainstorming ideas on how to fix this.
Maybe you're in the same boat. You might've pulled the data and seen how big your debt is. And it looks almost impossible to fix with your current income.
If you're discouraged by the numbers, remember this – what you see now is temporary. Make a commitment to move closer to your dreams and goals.
Let go of the blame, but keep in mind the frustration you feel as it can be fuel to keep you motivated.
Thoughts on Getting a Snapshot of Your Life
Even though I used money for the example, you can apply the same principles. Don't forget – as awkward and stressful it can be to see where you are now, this is temporary. You can move past this situation.
I'd love to hear from you about your process. Where are you now? Where do you want to be by the end of next year?
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