I bet you work hard but you’re been living paycheck to paycheck. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you talked about money with your spouse without it turning into a fight. Maybe you’ve noticed every time you get a raise your bills do too.

I understand friend.

Let’s look together at 5 tips.

1. Put all the cards out on the table.

Yes, I know you don’t want to really face everything, especially all at once. How do I know? Because I’ve been there. I thought it felt better to have my head in the sand than to face the full truth of my financial reality. But you know what?

I was wrong. Actually, once I got every last bill, every last debt, every last dumb decision out of my head and onto the table…I felt instantly better. No longer were all the bills and worries pinging around in my brain like a pinball machine of anxiety. No, things were where I could see them. Sure they we’re pretty, but at least they were all in one place. That was a start.

How to get it all out on the table:

  1. Schedule a meeting with your spouse.
  2. Get a blank piece of paper and brain dump everything about your finances that you’ve been worried about. Write out all the facts, thoughts and emotions.
  3. Now, get a fresh new sheet of paper. Go through your brain dump and find the things that you can make sense of. List them in order of priority.
  4. Talk with your spouse at the meeting about everything that you’ve come up with. Own your part of the mistakes. Be humble. But get it all out. No more skeletons in the closet.
  5. Reflect on how you feel.

2. Come up with a plan.

You need a plan for your money. We call this a budget. According to John Maxwell, a budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. You see, sometimes people watch their money go where it’s supposed to go-like to the bills. But that’s not the same as using a budget. If you don’t know how to use a budget, don’t feel bad. Only about 32% of households use a budget according to a Gallup poll. That’s where financial coaches come in. We walk you through the process below.

How to make a budget:

  1. Establish your total household take-home income.
  2. Assign your very first dollars to the most important expenses: food, shelter & transportation.
  3. List out all outgoing expenses. Get clear on needs vs. wants.
  4. Review expenses, percentages and see where you can/should cut.
  5. Communicate & redo the budget each month. Understand it’s a new habit that will take time to get good at.

3. Dream again.

Living in the daily hustle and bustle can cause you to lose sight of any dreams you once had. Now you’re spending every last dollar on Netflix, Target and Amazon. If your goals were more clear, you’d be happy to put that money into a vacation fund for Ireland next year.

No, really.

We stop dreaming because we get bogged down with the daily burdens. But you, your spouse and your family have a fun, exciting future in front of you. Learn to dream again. Then use that dream to motivate using that budget and sticking to it.

How to dream again:

  • Try to remember what your dreams were when you were younger.
  • Think about what you would do if money wasn’t a factor.
  • If you have $5,000 to spend, what would you do other than pay bills?
  • What is one thing you’ve wanted to do/see your entire life?
  • What is something you always wanted to take your family to do/see?

4. Get out of debt.

I know culture has taught us to think debt is normal. Did you know 3 or 4 generations ago debt wasn’t a thing? Yeah. It’s a new normal-and not a good one. Think about how much debt you have. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Add up the car payments, student loan payments, furniture payments, credit card payments and whatever else is lurking behind that credit score. What could you do with that money every month? What if that money was paying for your future instead of your past?

Debt is a thief as Chris Hogan says. It steals your income. It steals your wealth. You don’t need debt. You don’t. You need to save up and pay for things. Here’s a game changer:

If you can’t pay for it in cash, you can’t afford it.

Oh dang. Yeah. Getting out of debt will make your monthly financial situation so much lighter and less stressful. You’re not going to fight as much because there simply won’t be as much to fight about.

5. Focus on the positive.

I know, this is annoying. “Sure Shana, I’ll focus on the rainbows and butterflies and all my stress will float away.” Hear me out!

I want you to get another piece of paper. I want you to fill it with things you have to be grateful about. Fill the entire page. Get real specific…like the fact that your football team isn’t looking as bad as my beloved Cowboys right now. Or the fact that your favorite shirt still fits. Think about your friends, family, health, job, car, house…whatever you can think of. I really want you to do this so I’ll wait. Go ahead now, go on.

Now, when you look at all you have to be grateful for, doesn’t it make you feel less stressed? This is what we call contentment. If I had nothing else but I had the health of my three kids, I would be content. Right? If I had nothing else but I had a roof over my head, I would be content. So, what if I get to combine so many things like that? It makes my finances not seem like such a big deal. Furthermore, it makes my desire for Amazon shopping seem a little less severe.

Another trick to this exercise is to walk around your home and think about all the things you used to want that you now have. Think of younger you. 5 years younger you. What did he want? A home? A new car? A new surround sound system? A table saw? Think of 20 years younger you. What did she want? To be married? A new phone? A career? Friends? A good relationship with her mother?

You see how powerful this exercise is? Yes, yes you do. Share it with someone you love. Try not to get choked up. Oh, and realize how not stressed you feel.

Okay friends, those are 5 of my tips to stop being stressed about money. To review they were:

  1. Put all the cards out on the table.
  2. Come up with a plan.
  3. Dream again.
  4. Get out of debt.
  5. Focus on the positive.

Now you know I’m a certified financial coach through Dave Ramsey. In fact, I’m a preferred Ramsey Coach. If you want help, you need to fill out the form below. It’s a fairly simple.

  1. You’ll talk. I’ll listen.
  2. We’ll come up with a plan that includes your dreams, your budget and your debt-payoff date.
  3. We’ll work the plan together until you’re ready to do it on your own.

I’m here to help. You’ve just got to fill that form out below.

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