First Steps to Financial Health Pt.1

Emerson Fry

Image via Emerson Fry

Sometimes when we want to revamp our lives it can be hard to know where to start.

In order to get our finances in shape it’s not just enough to tackle our shopping habits, we need to look at all aspects of our finances and how our shopping habits fit into that.

Here are seven things I’ve learnt to help me get my finances (and hopefully yours too!) back on track.

1. Start Where You Are.

The best and first thing we should do is figure out where we are. It’s good to take some time out to take a really good honest look at both your wardrobe and your finances and determine how you even got here! There were a lot of little steps that lead you to this point and you probably didn’t notice them at the time but overall? It’s created a overwhelming situation which can be hard to face up to (I know has been for me!) but it is necessary.

You want to start by doing what I call a: ‘Fashion & Finance Overhaul’.

This is where you take the weekend or an afternoon or two off to sort through your finances and  your wardrobe  (I recommend doing your finances first so you have no chance to use tiredness as an excuse!).

A little self-reflection at the beginning is the best way to go. It will give you  a really a good picture of the state you’re in then from there you can put a plan in place to get back on track. No more burying your head in the sand!

So, get a cup of tea, lay out your favourite snack or put on some calm (or funky) music because although it might be a bit of a long ride, it will be worth it.

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2. Change Your Mindset.

If we ever want to have a good healthy relationship with our money we need to change our attitude towards it. We need to understand what it is, how it is to be used, what we are doing with it and how it is ultimately affecting our lives. We need to make a change in these three areas:

 i. How we see money:

If you’re anything like me, you often times find yourself exasperatedly saying to yourself “I don’t have enough money!” . The thing is we think we don’t have enough money but in reality we do (look around you – all the items you own are evidence of that you have money), the problem is we haven’t managed it in the best way. We don’t have a plan in place for the money that is coming to us, so instead, we unknowingly service the plans of other people by exchanging it for things to put into our wardrobes, our stomachs or going out.

Money isn’t scarce, bad or something to be scared of. Money is a tool to be used. The only problem with money is our (mis) management of it. You can’t blame the tool for the consequence when it wasn’t used properly in the first place. If we learn how to use it well and make our on plan for it instead of letting it service other people’s plans, we can make our lives a whole lot easier.

ii. How we see Style & Fashion:

For we fashionistas, Fashion can be both the highlight (nabbing that latest Mulberry bag!) and bane (using a credit card to do it) of our financial lives. The need for instant gratification and the FOMO (fear of missing out) mindset make us feel insecure and cause us to blindly throw money at the stores then sadly wonder where it all went afterwards. Although fashion is intriguing we need to understand what Style and Fashion really are so that we can know how to implement them properly.  

You can and should do always do fashion on your own terms. We need to learn to cultivate Style over following fashion and use Fashion to our advantage.

 iii. How we see ourselves:

“You are stronger than you believe and smarter than you think.” You can manage your money.

 We need to change the way we see ourselves and what we can accomplish. It can be a daily battle but it’s worth doing and if you’re reading this post you are already on your way. 

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3. Change Your Habits.

One of the best ways to improve our finances? Eliminate the things that are holding us back.

Plan for your spending in advance. Have a list – go through your wardrobe and note down the things that you need. Buy those things first before you buy anything else. 

Practice the “wait” rule. If you are going shopping take a note book (or use the notes app on your phone) – write down all the things you see that you would like to buy and the price, BUT DON’T BUY IT YET. When you get home, look at your wardrobe and see if it is necessary or fits in with your style.

After this wait for  a week (or if you can, 30 days)  and see if you still want the item. If you do go ahead and get it. This waiting period gives you plenty of time to decide if you really have to have it or not – you don’t realise how helpful a few days can be!*

*Tip:  I like using the save to wish list button when shopping on sites like ASOS or Amazon as it gives me ample time to mull over a purchase.

Put a set amount of money aside for spending and once it’s gone it’s gone.

Don’t shop during lunch breaks – take this time to read or learn something new.

Stop regular window shopping – what you don’t see you don’t buy.  The stores now bring new items in every week some times twice a week! Which means that you could go shopping each week and always find something new that you’d want to buy. It would be never ending. If you remove yourself from the temptation, your bank balance will thank you for it. As will your future self when she gets to go on that trip she’s been talking about taking, like, forever.

Making even the smallest change will go a long way to helping you get back on track.

Read part 2 for steps 4-7
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