By Alicia Kellebrew
NFCC Certified Financial Professional
The Village Financial Resource Center
I have recently started the process of trying to navigate toward more healthy habits, and I’ve found that having a few “baby steps” to focus on has really helped me bust out of the rut of inaction towards my goals. This got me thinking about what those “baby steps” might look like when someone is working to get back on the right financial track. By implementing a few basic first steps you can get the ball of financial fortune rolling in your favor.
- Define It: First you must define what the issue/situation is and what your goals are in relationship to said issue/situation. For example, rather than saying “I never have any money,” you may define the issue as “I do not set aside money to help cover unexpected expenses” with your goal being to work towards saving more. The more specific you are, the easier it is to work on.
- Own It: Once you know what the issue is, you have to take a hard look at what caused the situation in the first place. What role did you have in the situation? There may have been factors beyond your control, but did you do all that you could with the situation? Could you have handled things differently? What thoughts, behaviors, and/or attitudes may you need to change in order to improve the situation?
- Decide It: Now that you have defined the task at hand, you must decide what you are going to do about it. How do you determine what your options are? List any and all possibilities. Which ones move on to the next round? Consider making a pros and cons list and going from there. Sometimes we narrow down the field by eliminating the options that just won’t work at all and going from there.
- Do It: Don’t sit on all this information – take action! It is far better to choose an action and then have it turn out to be the wrong one, than to take no action at all. One of my favorite sayings is “If it is to be, it is up to ME!”
- Review It: After choosing and executing a plan of attack, you have to pause to reflect on how effective it has been and whether or not adjustments have to be made. Sometimes you may determine that the option you selected isn’t working and try out a new one. The best case scenario would be, you would discover that your efforts are moving you closer to attaining your goal.
- Seek It: If you are having difficulty with any of the above steps, ask for outside advice or assistance. I have found that having someone that knows your goals is helpful because they will encourage you to stay on track. This could be family or friends or professionals that work with money management such as the Village Financial Resource Center. You can find out more by visiting our website helpwithmoney.org or calling (800) 450-4019.
- Cut Yourself A Break: We are often our worst critics, and we’re only human, after all. So mistakes are bound to happen. Don’t let those define you. You can’t change the past but you can affect the ending.
- Give Credit Where Credit is Due: Even if you don’t execute all of the above steps perfectly or get to the exact outcome you want right away, give yourself a pat on the back for recognizing the issue and working toward a solution.