By Amber Miller, CFP®
Let me ask you two questions:
1. Do you ever wish you had more time to do the things you love?
2. Do you ever wish you had more money to do the things you love?
Now I want you to take two minutes to write down 3 things that you would do with either more time or more money or both. Go ahead…I’ll wait while you write them down.
Okay, now save your answers and we’ll come back to them later. But, first, I want to go back a few steps and share a few key money tips, because I think sometimes the hardest part of handling money is knowing where to start and understanding that it’s okay to ask questions because…
No. One. Teaches. Us. This. Stuff.
Somehow, we emerge into adulthood and we are expected to not only pay our bills without checks bouncing, but also be able to pick the right investments in our 401ks. Oh, and we’re even supposed to know what a 401k is – and how it differs from an IRA or a 403b or a deferred comp plan. Let’s not even bring up the fact that there’s a “Roth” version of most of these!
Or what about life insurance – do you need it? How much is right? The salespeople always seem so, well, sales-y, right?! How do you know whom to trust?
Then, by the time you get home at night, you are staying up late figuring out how much money is left after the bills are paid and the groceries are purchased. Should you spend the money (and time) on a gym membership or save for those emergencies you’re hoping will never come? Or does it make more sense to put more money toward your retirement?
No. One. Teaches. Us. This. Stuff.
So, I want to get real for a minute. Put yourself (and your future self) first. Make yourself a priority. In addition to eating your vegetables, hitting the gym, and spending time with your friends and family, making yourself a priority means paying attention to your finances.
Here are 4 key ways to put yourself first:
- Take the time and think about what’s important to you. Sit down and think about it. Talk about it. Then prioritize it.
- If you have a spouse or partner, begin having regular conversations together about everything involving your finances. This includes your net worth, your goals, your values, and spending habits. Put everything on the table and discuss it.
- Do you know where your money is going? It’s time to discover it.
- Whether we like it or not, we need to learn more about money.
- We need money to pay the bills, go out to dinner or the movies, send our kids to college, and ultimately retire. Your past, present, and future depend on your savvy use of limited resources.
- Find the money.
- Strategize how to run both your life and your career.
- From exploring your career ambitions, to negotiating your salary, to choosing to take time off to raise a family, or to go on the vacation trip of a lifetime – what do you want your life and career to look like?
- Plan what you want to do.
- Have a written financial plan.
- Establish goals for yourself and set some savings objectives.
- Carve out time each month to check in with yourself – are you on track?
- Talk with your partner. Do some research. Get organized.
Wherever you are in your life – whether you just accepted your first job, you’re overwhelmed by the benefits offered at a new position, or you’re wondering how you can ever retire – prioritize yourself. If this process seems daunting, find a financial planner who can help you discover what’s important to you and help create a plan for you to achieve it.
I want you to feel empowered by the choices you are making, not confused by them. I want you to be able to go to bed early and sleep at night knowing you are making the right decisions for YOU. This way, you can continue living your busy, classy, adventurous life with calm and vigor.
Remember those 3 things you wrote down earlier? I want you to spend more time doing those things!
Amber Miller, CFP® is a Sr. Financial Planner in the Twin Cities office of The Planning Center, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm. Amber works with wise, classy, adventurous women who are responsible and who want to be more responsible and make smart decisions about their money. She is a financial feminist, avid adventurer, competitive rower and loves anything involving veggie pizza, Portuguese wine or the color pink.
Please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.