*Make sure to read to the end where I hope someone needed to read what I felt was time to talk about*
Have you ever heard the saying, “Death by a thousand cuts?” That’s how I see our past finances. Each little, seemingly irrelevant purchase added up to mindless autopilot mode in the store and the next thing I knew, it was like I had no clue that our resources were limited. I’m not one to make a huge purchase irresponsibly…why, that would be IRRESPONSIBLE! Right? But what about all those little things that added up to an emotional state of overwhelm, which lead to the pinnacle of my anxiety and ultimate burn out. Why am I revealing all of this rather embarrassing information for all to see? Because I get enough questions from enough people to know that I’m not the only one who has struggled/or still does struggle with this taboo topic.
It seems that if you’ve done more than 30 seconds of research on how to get your finances back in order, you’ve probably run into the same thing over and over. Cook meals from scratch, turn off lights when you’re not in the room, never shop on an empty stomach. Most have been there/done that. What about the rest of us who want a little more than that? I’ve made a list of five things (plus a bonus at the end) you might not have heard by now. These tend to be the things I need a reminder of now and then, so you are in good company, my friend!
1. Haste Makes Waste
Oh, if you could only see me facepalming myself right now. I’m convinced that I’m timeclock-challenged, if that’s even a thing. Personally, I do not work well under pressure and time crunching is definitely pressure. When I am in a rush, my decision-making abilities are greatly compromised and I cannot be trusted to make a wise decision, financially or otherwise…and it just plain puts me in a bad mood. Slowing down and taking one’s time is not only conducive to personal and familial well-being, but it’s also just a lot more fun to have the opportunity to stop and smell the roses, or perhaps be available to help a friend in need. For many of us, this takes time and practice, to make a plan that gives a cushion for things like trains, construction on EVERY STREET that leads out of your housing development, kids who can’t remember how to tie their shoes, etc. I have often heard the saying, “It’s better to be a half hour early than 1 minute late.”
*If you’re one of THOSE people who is rarely ever late for an event or appointment…SPILL THE BEANS on how you structure your time to make that happen. Enquiring minds definitely do want to know!*
2. Pay Your Bills on Time
I don’t really want to spend too much time on this topic as I realize that no one really wants to be delinquent on bills; however, I will point out that if you have the funds to pay your bills but routinely forget to pay them on time, it might be wise to consider structuring a routine to eliminate any occurrence. Life gets busy, I know, but recurring late fees can be very expensive.
If you are having financial difficulty and are forced to make decisions, PLEASE find a mentor who is willing/able to help guide you in the right direction. There is no shame in asking for help if you are willing to do the legwork it takes to help pull your family through a crisis.
*Attached to my recommendation to find a financial mentor, HEAR MY HEART HERE: Don’t go to someone else who is in the pits of financial despair with you. Honestly, it’s like the blind leading the blind.*
One more note on this tender subject: If the person you (and your S.O., if you have one) ask for help gives somewhat of a cold shoulder, please don’t be deceived into thinking they don’t care or that there is something wrong with you. Some trustworthy people have been asked to help in sorting out finances only to have their time and efforts wasted by dishonesty or blatant disregard for advice. In my opinion, it’s best not to go to a personal friend/s unless you believe they are absolutely and without a doubt THE person/people to help you out. It can cause strain on your relationship and the pros do not outweigh the cons.
3. SHOW UP ON TIME AND USE YOUR MEMBERSHIPS
I promise, this is different from Haste Makes Waste but they are definitely similar, I agree. Basically, if I am paying for my daughter’s dance class by the hour and she only receives 45 minutes of it because we were 15 minutes late, then I’m losing money and she is losing her warm up and beginning instruction time. Yah, definitely don’t want to give the dance school 25% of a week’s tuition for free. Enough said so let’s move on…
Use your memberships to the fullest extent possible. Be prepared for another personal confession and facepalm moment. Hey, didn’t I already say that if you struggle with these things, you’re in good company??? I pay for a membership at a gym and my fees include childcare for my three younger children. On weeks that I don’t meet my three workouts per week, I am losing money. Is it mandatory in my contract that I work out three days per week? Nope, but it is a personal goal of mine to do at least three to justify the cost of the membership. Therefore, I am losing money when I decide to run errands when I had promised myself I’d be in cycling class. (Sorry Kelllliiiiiiiii!)
This also rings true to warehouse memberships. If you’re not saving at least as much as the cost of the membership, you’re better off saving your money and finding something else that works for you.
4. DON’T BE A CHEAPSKATE
Yes, I did go there but only because I’ve been there and still have to keep myself in check. There are times when quality has to supersede quantity. My former couponing self just couldn’t come to terms with this one for quite some time. I used to think that if I had a need, I would just run to the cheapest place to fulfill said need and call it good. Ahem…cheap vacuum cleaners that last ONE YEAR, if I’m lucky. If I had a nickel for every time I bought something without checking it’s reviews only to find out that my “gotta have it now” attitude messed me over once again, I could buy a Dyson without even batting an eyelash! Bottom line–TAKE YOUR TIME TO RESEARCH THE ITEM YOU’RE INTERESTED IN.
5. RESEARCH DIY’S BEFORE JUMPING IN
Many times DIY’s (Do It Yourself) projects are the most cost efficient way to go, and I applaud anyone who does so. This is a lesson I had to learn from the School of Hard Knocks. A prime example of this is when making your own beauty products. Some people run out, buy the citric acid, corn starch, dyes, fragrant oils, etc. because they want to make copy-cat lush bath bombs but experience true sticker shock when they see the cost for supplies. Fortunately for me, I really enjoy making my own bath bombs for myself and my children so I don’t mind forking out the initial investment as I know I’ll be using all of the supplies. (If you want to see my favorite Spiced Cider Bath Bomb recipe, click here.) However, if you are just dabbling for the fun of it and are desiring not to spend an arm and a leg, it might be best to dabble with a starter kit from a local craft store. Basically, BACK AWAAAAAY FROM AMAZON until you do a test run.
I’d originally planned on giving only five frugal-living tips but I decided that this last one has been by far the most impactful for me.
LIVE LIFE IN PROACTIVE MODE rather than reactive mode.
BOOM! Fireworks should be going off, either because you’ve already made the switch and can testify to the benefits of living a proactive life, or because you’re just now realizing that most of your decisions are made from the perspective of life happening TO YOU rather than YOU HAPPENING TO LIFE. There will always be circumstances that we cannot change but we can change how to respond regardless of circumstances. It’s hard, I KNOW!
Can I get a little up-close-and-personal with you? This is a topic that I’d planned on making a video about…part of my story but I can’t get through it without ugly crying so I’ll let you in my heart, my world, my past–just a wee little bit.
Story Time: When my oldest son, Duane, was one-year-old, he got very ill. We took him to the Emergency Room where he was transferred to another hospital and diagnosed as Type-1, or Juvenile, diabetic. Well, to say I hit the floor in overwhelm and anguish is an understatement. To make a very long story a little shorter, I started living life in reactive mode. Trudging through day-to-day life without having any focus beyond getting from one day to the next. Learning how to keep this precious little boy alive was my daily focus and sometimes it was literally a minute-by-minute goal. In all of the trauma and uncertainty, I began letting life happen to me. I couldn’t see past my nose, let alone have any plans our life beyond the next Endocrinologist appointment.
Can I blame my younger self for living in survival mode? Nope! However, I found myself stuck in a spiral of reactionary thinking so when I finally began wanting to be more proactive, I found myself getting smacked around by whatever life seemed to bring me. It took nothing short of a nervous breakdown one day (and a whole slew of tender-hearted women) to encourage me on the road to turning my M.O. around and start deciding how I would proceed from there. Yes, life did continue, and still does continue, to throw curve balls at me…no one is exempt from that. But I refuse to get stuck in that spiral ever again.
See, there are quite a few gaps in my memory…precious years of my son’s childhood that I just have very little to no recollection of. A little while back, I decluttered pictures from the past and it was like I was looking at another family through a window. It’s been around about 5-6 years since I realized that life was literally passing me by and I was just going along with it because I thought I had no other choice. But I did have a choice, I just didn’t know it. And friends, I want to challenge you to ask yourself if you are happening to life or if you are letting life happen to you. Very different perspective, from one to the other. Proactive if a powerful, offensive stance even though it doesn’t guarantee that cruddy things will happen. Reactive, although purposeful from time to time, is defensive and not meant to be a state of being long-term. I’d like to put it this way in closing: time is going to pass no matter what, and your life will be lived no matter what, but HOW you choose to live it is entirely up to you. To refer to my earlier quote, if more than just your finances feels like “death by a thousand cuts,” I have full faith that you are capable of turning it around, even if you need to call on a mentor or get professional help.
I certainly hope I am not shaming anyone, but perhaps offering you a ton of love, grace, and encouragement from one who’s been there.
Have a wonderful weekend friends! I hope it is restful.