Take off all your clothes and stand in front of a mirror.
It's uncomfortable, right? Every flaw is staring back at you reminding you of the pint of Ben & Jerry's you finished after a long day at the office or the workout you traded out for brunch with the girls. The mirror won't lie to you.
It's uncomfortable and raw and vulnerable. No one likes the absolute truth but how long can you keep telling yourself little white lies?
So, get naked. Physically or hypothetically, no judgment from me. You need to be transparent for this to work.
Where is your money actually going? Are you saving enough? Planning for retirement at all? What expenses do you have now or may have in the future? Are you paying all your bills in full and on time? Where is this girl trying to go with this? Hold on a sec, I'll explain.
Shortly after college, I became bored and complacent with my life. I was living in the same city I grew up in and working a job I wasn’t passionate about. I felt like there wasn’t much room for growth and I wasn’t improving as a person. I decided to get naked and take a serious look at my financial situation. I was just coming off a $10k month-long escapade in Europe and my student loan payments could only be deferred for so long. I knew I needed to make a change, preferably a relocation, but I wasn’t in the financial situation to do so. It was the wake-up call I needed.
I needed to grow my net worth faster than my entry-level associate job and carefree college spending habits allowed. It wasn’t easy, but I knew I needed to be more cognizant of my expenses and a second income never hurt anyone. I traded my Friday night routine of take-out and bar hopping for a second job folding dri-fit shirts and asking customers if they needed a dressing room. I limited my lunches out to just one every two weeks and began freelancing for a new startup in town.
It's easy enough to blindly swipe a plastic card and spend your digital dollars. It's also just as easy to look in the mirror and lie about where your money is going. Have you ever tried to solve a problem? I'm not talking about a small relationship spat you threw a Band-Aid at or that half-assed apology you accepted with a shit-eating grin. I'm talking about sitting down, getting raw and uncomfortable, and figuring out what the real problem is before you blindly attempt to patch it.
That's what we're going to do here. We’re going to get naked, uncomfortable, and be transparent with ourselves. We are going to get to the true root of the problem before we even begin to look at solutions. You can't attempt to manage your financial situation until you honestly know where your money is going. I know it’s inconvenient, but you need to track each purchase you make. Start a notebook, formulate a spreadsheet. Whatever works. If you need a template, email me below. Don't write down that your morning coffee costs $2. Look yourself in the mirror and admit that it's actually $2.75.
Why is this girl getting all worked up about 75 cents?
It adds up. If you're trying to reach your goal, every single cent needs to be accounted for. I know it sounds tedious and mundane, but I promise you this works. Spreadsheets are just as honest and unforgiving as mirrors, if not more. When I first started this, it was a huge slap in the face to discover where my money was going. $200 monthly for new clothes? $500 on alcohol in one month? Okay Amanda, definitely time to reevaluate. I know you’re sitting there with a judgmental ass look on your face calling me an alcoholic, but would you like to add up your number and get back to me? Cool.
The point is, I got uncomfortable and looked my financial situation in the eye. I’m fully aware how anal retentive it sounds, but I know exactly where every single penny of my money goes. I got to the root of my issues; Sportsman’s cheese balls, my shoe addiction, and all. I identified the problem AND THEN found a solution.
Get naked, get uncomfortable. Start tracking all your purchases. Transparency is key. Look at all your financial flaws as they are, and then we can create a solution together.
Special thanks to Zack Mathis for reminding me that I'm good at money, not grammar.