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Within Your Means


Financial literacy is in short supply today and that goes for our government as well. I know it sounds like we're living in a terrible horror film, and believe me, this is a movie I would like to walk out of. Unfortunately, our financial problems are hiding in plain sight and we are dismissing our own behaviors, our own lies, and all this avoidance of the truth is creating the anxiety and depression that has become our normal everyday lives. How can we turn around and have a financial reset? By becoming financially intentional.


Step one to being intentional is to know where you currently stand financially. The average working individual has only enough resources in their bank account to sustain them 30 days. If you are relying on government assistance and food stamps, your chances of lasting that long are greatly diminished. Take a hard look at your current financial situation and when you pick yourself up off the floor, do step two.


Step two is to have a plan. Without a plan of how to change your circumstances, you will not take necessary action to correct and stop the financial bleeding. When you know what is broken it’s much easier to fix. When you put a band aid over a hemorrhaging problem you may slow the bleeding, but you eventually will suffer the consequences. Avoidance has become the solution of choice, but you need a plan for when that choice is no longer available to you.


Step three is to create a budget. If you have never created a budget, it’s very simple and not as complicated as people would have you think. These are some simple steps:


1. Write down your total household income. If you are the sole income earner it’s the total of TAKE HOME pay that you receive. This can be a government check or wages you earn from a job.


2. Make a list of EVERYTHING you spend your money on. This is called an expense and once you have itemized your bills, food, clothing, housing, utilities, insurance (car, home, medical), gas, school, credit card debt, and year end taxes, you’ll soon begin to see why you don’t have much left over at the end of the month.


3. The bottom line. This is where you subtract the expenses from the income to get an idea of you are living in perpetual debt (compounding monthly), or if you have anything left over (savings).


4. Balance the books. This is where you are going to make changes that will give you hope over your current financial situation. This is where you need to trim the fat. Identify areas that are not necessary. If you are wasting money on clothes that only pile up in the closet, if you throw out more food than you eat, if you spend more money on fast food than you do eating at home, if your entertainment category is bulging, if you are wasting money on booze and cigarettes, if your internet bill is huge because of the gaming and binge watching, these are places where money can be saved. Fun and excitement are no longer your priority. Financial freedom and peace of mind are the goals you should pursue.


5. Live within your means. Once you have control over your spending and have a clear idea of how to save financial resources, begin focusing on other areas of your life that need to be downsized. Clean out the excess and live within your financial, but also spatial confines of your life. If you have excess “stuff” get rid of it, sell it, or donate it to a charity.


When you are debt free, live within your means, and have your priorities right, you’ll be able to focus on other things in your life that bring you joy. Get rid of the clutter, get rid of the burdens, and live intentional in all aspects of your life. As you lessen financial debt and downsize the spatial excess, you’ll notice you feel lighter and less anxious and depressed overall.

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