10-11 years back, when I was literally jobless and just starting to venture out on my own with photography, yet not yet making much of any money to talk about, I was close to my lowest point financially since leaving college, I started paying myself first. My income was so small and I was super stressed about finances. It was just $20 a month I put towards savings. Out of sight & out of mind. I did it every month, I wanted to build a rainy day fund, an emergency fund so I would never be caught without an emergency back up. After a couple years, when I could afford it I added another $20 and tossed in any extra as it came along. Within 6 years I had saved over $6,000.
Living is about a whole lot more than just money, but money sure does help. This one key concept can help you establish a good practice for your financial life – pay yourself and your future first.
Last week I talked about getting a handle on where your money goes (see that article here). Once you know what you are spending and what holes you can plug. You will have a pretty good idea of how far your income can go throughout each month and what you can squirrel away.
This concept is one I learned all those years ago from a guy named Dave Ramsey (a big money guru). It has been incredibly transformative and helped me go from stressed and broke to having several thousand dollars saved for a rainy day.
By doing this you are literally paying for your future. Budget an amount, any amount, even if it’s just $20 a month to start that goes straight away into a savings or investment account. Don’t touch this money, just let it build and grow over time. If your income grows you can add more to this monthly investment as it does. $20 a month for a year is just $240, not much right? But $20 a month for 5 years is $1200, if you can stretch that to $100 a month for 5 years you now have $6000 saved, just like how I saved $20+ a month to reach over $6,000, you can start small and grow steadily too.
Another aspect to this is to decide how much you want to “pay yourself”. What I mean is make sure you give yourself an allowance each month so that you can actually do something special or save for that more extravagant thing you have been wanting but doesn’t fit in the budget. Pay yourself, after all you are the one working to bring the money in, you should be able to enjoy it as well (within reason) even if it’s just $20 a month, you can blow it on whatever you want, it’s more symbolic then anything, it helps you psycologically feel less “strapped” to have a little play money.
Similarly there are other categories you can do this with: having an emergency fund (one you don’t touch – unless it is actually an emergency), savings, school, auto/transportation, vacation, pets, photo gear, entertainment, meals out, clothes fund, etc. The list is endless. You decide and name the category(s) that are important to you and how much you can afford to put in each category each month. If you don’t use it one month then the next month you have double.
You can use an account at the bank for some of these and you can use an envelope system for the smaller items that you may use on an ongoing monthly basis. Either way you will have a clear way of knowing what money is designated for what and be well on your way to living within your means.
You will be amazed how fast it adds up and thrilled when that next emergency happens and you have that padding that you have saved over time to take care of it without the same amount of stress and worry all because you payed yourself and your future first.
Figure out the categories of your out of pocket monthly spending that you’d like to start working towards and how much money you can put in each category per month, don’t forget to add savings & emergency funds and watch your finances grow and you feel more empowered financially by simply paying yourself and your future first.
Really early on in my life, when I had just gotten out of college, started my first post-college job and had to rely on myself for the first time to get bills paid I had difficulty making my check last through the month. I had problems getting to the end of the month with any cash in hand. I couldn’t figure out where the money was going. I didn’t feel like I was being extravagant but still there was more month then money.
One of the most difficult things in regards to money is getting a handle on where the money is going. I know for many many people it seems like the money comes in and the money is gone, and they have very little idea of where it actually went.
Not everyone is a numbers person, I get that, but we can all improve our financial situation with a little knowledge of where it goes.
Here is what I did to get a good financial picture:
I had a little pocket calendar and I documented everything. All the money that came in and every penny I spent (and on what). I could literally see then where it was going, if I was over spending on frivolous things, or if it was all necessary. I am sure there are a bunch of apps for doing this now (like this one http://www.mhriley.com/spendingtracker/)
Doing this helped so much I did it for over a year. It kept me on track, helped curb poor spending habits and even helped me to save for the bigger things I needed or wanted.
Having insight into where exactly the money is going really helps to lay a foundation for where you want to go financially as well as provides good solid data for creating a budget. You don’t have to do it as long as I did; even doing it for 1 month can be insightful. Just remember to put it ALL down so the end data is accurate.
If you’d like a better overall picture of where you spend and how, take a month and track your expenses. Don’t judge what you’re doing/how you’re spending; just note where the money goes. The first step in taking control of your money is keeping it from controlling you. It’s hard to control something that you don’t fully know and understand. Once you get a bigger picture of how the money is being spent, then you can take steps to change its direction, if you realize there are things to change. Being in control of your financial picture is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.
Last week I talked about creating passive/residual income, today I want to tie that in with creating multiple streams of income. (If you want to see last weeks post you can find it here.)
Today the mass majority of people punching the time clock, running the work treadmill, are living pay check to pay check, many pick up a second or third job just to make ends meet … in a way they are creating multiple streams of income, yet they are still trading time for money. You see multiple streams of income is exactly what it sounds like … getting paid from various sources for the same type of work or completely different.
But what if you could create another one or two or three streams outside of trading time for money? Don’t get me wrong you will still have to invest some time and effort, it’s just that once things are more or less set up they continue running even when you are not there working.
I told you last week that three of the five companies I work with are generating passive/residual income. That is money that comes in month after month, year after year. Yes, they all fluctuate in exactly how much they generate each month, some months are better than others, that’s for sure, but still, once you build it (put the time into it upfront) then it is there and working for you years after.
Building multiple streams of income (especially passive/residual ones) is incredibly important, as the saying goes “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Having multiple streams of income hedges your bet, if one stream has a particularly bad month; you still have money coming in from the others. If one stream turns its toes up and dies then you are still OK as the other streams keep you afloat.
Because there are many variables involved in this kind of venture (both good and bad with the good overwhelmingly outweighing the bad), it’s a good idea to have more than one source of income. It could even be a combination of a “real” job and secondary passive income stream (and once your passive income can support you, you can say good bye to the traditional job).
doTERRA is an example of a great company which offers the opportunity to build an incredible (and life changing) residual income.
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