There are times when it seems as though your money is in charge of you. At times, whether it's because you are anxious and stressed, or just because you're busy and feel you don't have time to manage your money, it's possible for your budget to get away from you. You find yourself pulling out the credit card more and more — with no real plan for paying of the balance at the end of the month.
It's hard to stay on top of your budget at times like these, and it can be tempting to not even try. After all, once you become overwhelmed, it's hard to kick the spending habit and bring your budget back in line. However, if you want to stay financially solvent, you do need to take charge of your finances. Alicia H. Clark, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, has some tips for those who are ready to take charge of their money:
Break it Down
“The first step in getting control of your money is to recognize the anxiety money is causing you, and use the energy of that anxiety to fuel productive action rather than avoidance,” Clark says. “Break your tasks into parts so small that you barely notice that you are taking a first step.”
She suggests that a good first step is opening up your account online and looking at the numbers. Your first step should be simple and small. “Whatever the first step is, do it, and breathe deeply, recognizing that you are taking action,” Clark continues. “Know that facing the truth of your situation is the first step to changing it for the better.”
All of your actions after that first step can also be broken down into small tasks that are manageable. Looking at the whole situation can lead to a feeling of crushing defeat. Instead, make the whole situation much easier to handle by keeping your steps small, whether you are tracking your spending, looking for ways to earn more money, or finding small expenses to cut from your budget. “Look for ways you can improve your finances,” Clark says. “What are five ways you can decrease your spending? Are there ways you can grow your income?”
Change Your View of Money
Too often, we think of money as the end, rather than the means to an end. We work for more money, or try to cut spending to have more money, without really think about what it means, beyond the fact that more money is needed. Instead, think of money as a resource.
“Recognize that money is simply a resource that you have to manage much like your time, your energy, and your attention,” Clark says. “At its best, money is a reflection of your choices and your financial situation.” Stop thinking of money as the end itself, and start thinking about what you want from your life — and how money is the tool to help you achieve. Manage your money as a resource, and it becomes easier to take charge of your situation and work toward the things that you want out of life.
What do you think? How do you take charge of your finances?