If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you know that when I first started journaling, I was skeptical that the simple act of writing things down could help me achieve my financial goals. It seemed too easy that writing, something I enjoyed, could help me improve my finances, something I didn’t like thinking about at all.
I thought getting my finances in order was supposed to be hard and writing was something that came easy to me. Those two things just didn’t go together for me . . . until I tried it.
Writing about my finances changed everything. Below are my favorite ways journaling can improve your finances.
1. Bring Your Financial Goals to Life
Sometimes we think we know what we want until we think about it or, in the case of journaling, until we write about it. My financial goals have changed dramatically over the years. When I was studying to be an accountant, I wanted to work for a “Big 4” firm—one of the four largest accounting firms in the world.
So, before I knew how journaling worked, I heard Oprah say if you write your goals down, they have a better chance of coming true. I flipped to the back of a pretty journal I had that I’d barely used in the ten or more years that I owned it, and I wrote that I wanted to work at a “Big 4” accounting firm. A few years later, I landed a job at one of those firms. This is just one way journaling can bring your financial goals to life.
Another way journaling can bring your financial goals to life is by helping you see your goals more clearly. For example, it may feel like more money would improve your situation, so you might decide you’d like a higher paying job. From my own experience, when I got a higher paying job, I just spent more money. It took considering my goals for me to figure out that wasn't what I really wanted.
After a lot of journaling, I discovered it wasn’t more money I wanted, it was more control over the money I already had that I wanted.
2. Make Important Financial Decisions
A journal is a great place to go when you don’t know what to do. In your journal, you can write about your deepest fears when it comes to the big financial decisions you have to make. When I make decisions, I like to think about all the possible outcomes. Journaling allows me to write about all these outcomes (even ridiculous things that would never happen).
The beauty of having these various scenarios on paper is that through the act of journaling, it becomes clear what I need to do. Sometimes I don’t even need to re-read my journal. The act of writing about a big decision is sometimes all it takes to recognize which choice you need to make.
3. Release Your Frustrations
I’ve heard Mari say many times that, “Journaling heals the issues in our tissues.” That’s the power of releasing. When you write about things you’re feeling frustrated with, particularly things to do with your finances, you get them out of your head. This is important because what we focus on grows.
If we are constantly telling ourselves how bad we are at managing our finances, we are going to continue to be bad at managing our finances. When I journal to release negative things like this, I will sometimes tear up or burn the piece of paper I’ve written these limiting beliefs on to make sure they’re gone for good.
One of the most fun things I did when journaling about my finances was write a letter to my debt. I called that debt all kinds of names and said it was like the gum on the bottom of my shoe. I went on and on and on. Then I ripped up the paper and burned it—safely, outside, of course. It was so freeing, and I felt so good afterwards.
4. Praise Your Achievements
Journaling isn’t just about getting your negative thoughts out of your mind—it’s also about reminding yourself of all the good things in your life. You can write this exactly like a gratitude journal, but focus on what you’re thankful for when it comes to your finances.
Gratitude journals are great because they teach us to be thankful for the most basic things. You can do this with your finances too. Maybe you received an email about a sale that one of your favorite stores was having. If you deleted that email rather than clicking the link to go shopping, you can be grateful for the money you saved by doing that.
Even if you don’t have time to journal about your finances, I know you have time to say some affirmations. Choose one from the list below or an old favorite of yours, and repeat it while you’re driving, taking a shower, or washing the dishes. You can always find time for affirmations.
- I’m clear about where I’m headed financially.
- I achieve my financial dreams with ease.
- I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
- My finances are improving every day.
- I faithfully flow into financial freedom.
That last one is a personal favourite of mine. I’ve been using it for the past two years, and I’ll keep using it, because it works. As you can see, I’m a fan of alliteration!
What financial goal do you want to achieve the most in 2021?
This prompt goes along with the first point above. When you write about your goals they become much clearer. When you have clear goals, it’s easier to create a plan to achieve those goals. So, go ahead and write about your financial goals for 2021.
What makes you the most angry about your financial situation?
This prompt is all about releasing. Get rid of those negative feelings about your finances. Whatever makes you angry, sad, or frustrated when it comes to your finances, tell your journal all about it. The thing with releasing negative emotions is they often come back, so be prepared to repeat this prompt whenever you feel the need.
What financial achievements am I most proud of?
For this prompt, I want you to sing your own praises. This can be something in your recent past, or something going back many years. Whatever you are proud or grateful for when it comes to your finances, write about it. See if you can come up with at least ten things. That may seem like a lot, but you’ll be surprised how easy it is once you get started.
I hope I didn’t give you the impression that my finances are perfect. They most certainly aren’t. I still have a lot of debt, and I work hard every day to pay it down a little at a time. The thing that has improved the most for me is how I feel about my finances. Journaling has helped me heal a lot of my money issues. I no longer berate myself for spending five dollars on a coffee because I wanted a treat.
Journaling has taught me to have a healthy relationship with myself and my finances, and I hope it does the same for you. All the best to you on your financial journey!
Please comment below on how this Money Matters column has helped you.
Also, leave your suggestions for future topics you'd like to see discussed.
Author bio: Michelle Cornish is the author of Prosperity Planner: Manage Your Personal Finances and Get Out of Debt, an undated planner where she shares more about her personal financial journey and her TREE Method for keeping her personal finances in check.