Do you know your net worth? How much money are you saving? Do you have a plan to “retire” early – so you don’t have to work in later life unless you want to?
Up until a few months ago, I had no idea how to answer these questions.
If I squinted my eyes and thought really, really hard, I might be able to rattle off how much was sitting in my savings account. But that’s about it.
My hubby and I were trying to spend less and save more. But we didn’t have a plan. We weren’t tracking our moolah. And we took a lot of holidays for the heck of it (thankfully we didn’t use a credit card to pay for them, but taking time off still set us back).
And because we’re both self-employed, it was frustrating seeing the ebbs and flows of our finances – and not feeling in control of any of it.
I know we’re not alone in this.
Many of us believe money is difficult. Like a bad relationship, it’s hard to get and harder to keep. We’re afraid to make money – and terrified of losing it when we do. And because it’s taboo to talk about it, we all walk around in a cloud of confusion.
We’ve been programmed to fear finance – and so we close our eyes, hope for the best, and maybe even give control of our money over to so-called “experts” who use tricky terms and bamboozle us with numbers we don’t understand (and don’t question out of fear of looking dumb).
Money has also been a tool to disempower women and minorities for centuries.
It’s time to take our power back. To delve deeper into our money beliefs – and swap them out with ones that serve us better. To really see our spending habits, set our savings goals, and invest our hard-earned cash…so we can be financially free in the future. So we don’t have to depend on anyone else for our security. And so we can choose what, when and how we work – and retire early if we want to (or eventually quit working for the man and focus on our passion projects instead).
This mindset shift doesn’t happen overnight.
And digging ourselves out of debt and onto the path to financial independence takes time and work.
But in just six months, my husband and I have faced up to our finances, moved through the discomfort of disappointment and shame around our past money choices, practised better beliefs, and created a clear plan for our future.
We’re at the starting line of our journey. But I felt it would be good to share our story so far – in case it inspires you to rethink your relationship with money.
Step one: get informed
Once I knew things had to change (our money beliefs and behaviours) I donned my nerd hat and got researching. This is how I start most mindset shifts: I gather intel, get ideas, and seek inspiration from people who are already where I want to be.
This is a great way to shortcut your path to growth: model others who have walked it before you. That way, you can sidestep the potholes and dead-ends, and stay on the fast-track with their experience to guide you.
Here are my favourites:
For money mindset
- You’re a Badass at Making Money, by Jen Sincero
- The Soul of Money, by Lynne Twist
- The Law of Divine Compensation, by Marianne Williamson
For a financial roadmap
- Financial Freedom, by Grant Sabatier
- The Mad Fientist podcast
- Mr Money Mustache website
- Frugalwoods website
Step 2: set our why
Everything we do in life has an intention driving it. Sometimes that intention serves our highest goals and helps us become a better version of ourselves…and sometimes it doesn’t.
So whenever you’re looking to make a shift (whether it’s changing your eating habits, going back to uni, writing a book, starting a relationship), check in with yourself to make sure it’s aligned with the greater vision for your life.
If you’re not sure what your vision is, try this exercise:
Visualise your dream day. What are you doing? Who are you with? Where are you? List all the elements of that fantasy life – and what would need to happen to create it.
Dimitri and have a monthly money date. So when we got together to make our financial freedom plan (with coffee and fresh scones with jam and cream – essential for any finance discussion!), we created our dream life list.
We then asked, “What would this lifestyle cost?”
As we ran the numbers, we realised we don’t need a lot to live a lovely, fulfilling life.
Even once we’re financially free, I would still coach and write. He would still treat patients. We would walk on the beach, have a BBQ with friends, read a book in a hammock, take a few trips a year, I would go diving, he might try sailing.
What’s wonderful is we could live this way today, without working crazy hours or sacrificing much.
And if we reach financial freedom in, say, a decade from now, we could reduce our work hours (or only work on the things we really love) and spend more time living our dream life.
Because that’s the thing: you can always make more money. But you can’t make more time.
Financial freedom is about spending more time on the things you love, the things that bring you joy and help you live with passion and purpose…however that looks to you.
It’s about spending less on things you don’t want, need or value – so you can spend time on the things that do.
That’s our big why. And it gets us so excited about creating financial freedom. It takes us beyond the boring numbers and dry spreadsheets – and makes it so much easier to turn down another drink in the pub or another pair of shoes…because the bigger vision is worth so much more.
Step 3: get real about your numbers
This is the icky bit. When we face the facts we maybe don’t want to. When we look at where we are now with our money – and why we’re here. What past choices, behaviours, emotions got us to this point?
It’s not fun. But it’s essential to getting on the path to financial freedom.
It also helps take the emotion out of your money habits. When we put it down in numbers, we see that money is just neutral. It’s not good or bad. It’s nothing to fear or hate or worry about. They’re just numbers. It’s just maths.
I suggest having a money date (with yourself, or your partner if you’re coupled up) and writing down all your numbers.
Here’s what to list:
- Your assets:
- Investments (including your house if you own it)
- Your liabilities
- Credit card debt
- Car loan etc
- Your income
- Your monthly expenses: get an app that pulls in data from your bank accounts, so you don’t have to do any calculations
Then, just look at it. Without judgement or criticism. If any feelings do come up, let them be there. When we face our finances for the first time (or if it’s been a while), all kinds of emotions can pop up.
Forgive yourself for past choices. Forgive your partner. Be kind and loving and gentle and compassionate. Accept that this is where you are now.
Observe how you feel looking at your numbers. And commit to keeping it real from now on. Commit to stay open, honest and brave with yourself (and your partner). Commit to making money decisions from a neutral, unemotional place. Notice when you feel the urge to make emotional choices, to overspend or buy something out of fear or lack or avoidance or whatever – and question it. Ask if that action will serve your highest possible intention…if it will take you a step towards your dream life, or a step away from it.
See your numbers as the baseline. This is the starting line. This is where your new money beliefs begin.
Step 4: start your financial freedom plan
I won’t go into our specific plan here (let me know if you’d like me to talk about it in a future post or podcast episode). But I will share how we plotted our path to financial freedom – which we’re now working towards.
We follow Grant Sabatier’s blueprint in his book Financial Freedom. It is written for an American audience, although in the UK and Australia we have very similar government schemes and financial products (they’re often just called something else and have different rules).
We then used this calculator, because it’s specifically for Australians to figure out their financial independence numbers. If you Google ‘financial independence calculator [your country]’ you should find something similar.
Each month on our coffee date, Dimitri and I go over our numbers for the month: what did we spend? What did we save? Where can we improve this month?
To wrap up
I used to fear money….and worry about making it and losing it. I still have some old beliefs to cut, but mostly I love talking about money. I’m excited about our plan to be financially free in a decade or so.
And it’s my deepest wish that as women, we empower ourselves to get real, get educated, get inspired, and get on track to create wealth for ourselves and our families. To live on our terms. To be abundantly, wildly free. So we can make the most of our one, precious life – and make a positive impact on our family, our community, and our planet.
If you have questions about getting financially free – or want to shake up your money beliefs – get in touch and we can pop a time in the diary to chat about what’s possible.
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