The good news when it comes to your personal finances is that you have the opportunity to start over whenever you want. Sometimes starting over means rebuilding after claiming bankruptcy, but it can also mean choosing to make better decisions for your situation.
Today, I want to focus on the opportunities that come with starting over financially with a focus on the opportunity to make better decisions. The beauty of starting over financially is that you can do it any time. All you have to do is make a commitment to yourself to make better decisions tomorrow.
Of course, I’m simplifying. If it was this easy to start over financially, people would do it all the time. The truth is, it’s hard. Often when you’re in a bad place with your finances, there’s a lot of emotional baggage that goes along with it. Chances are you’re beating yourself up for letting things get so bad, or you’re blaming external circumstances rather than creating a plan to move forward.
That’s okay. It’s totally normal to feel this way, because money is a very emotionally charged topic which is also what makes it difficult to get help and start over.
The Buddy System for Personal Finances
I've mentioned support in some of my other Money Matters posts, and that’s because it’s key to making changes in all aspects of life. Because money isn’t often talked about, even among close friends or family members, it can be difficult to find a personal finance buddy.
When it comes to personal finances, the person you choose as your buddy doesn’t have to have the same financial goals as you or even be in the same financial situation. They just have to be willing to listen and be supportive.
The most important thing to consider is that you are comfortable sharing with this person. If you’re not at the point where you want to share your financial journey with anyone just yet, then be your own buddy and journal about it. You need an outlet, and your journal is a great place for this.
Starting Over with Your Systems
If you’re going to start over, you’ll want a way to track your progress so you can see how far you’ve come on those days you slip into old habits and start to get down on yourself.
Systems only work if you actually use them, so when it comes to starting over with your personal finances, you want to pick a system you will use. In my book, Prosperity Planner, I propose a super simple system for getting your finances in check. It includes four steps: Track, Record, Eliminate, and Expand.
In my opinion, when you are trying to make a change, the Track step is the most important. You need to know where your money is going if you want to make changes. When you combine the Track step with starting over, you get to start where you’re at. This means, you don’t need to worry about reviewing all your old bank and credit card statements. Just start tracking everything today and continue tracking going forward.
Just like journaling, you’ll be amazed at the difference writing down your daily spending and earning numbers makes. This was one of the most eye-opening things for me on my financial journey.
Starting Over Energetically
Energetically starting over is all about getting your mind right. Many spiritual gurus have written about the power of our thoughts. It’s also why I include affirmations with each Money Matters post. What you focus on is where your energy goes. If you keep berating yourself about your terrible financial mess, things are only going to get messier.
Stop that right now!
Things will improve, but only if you make the decision to do something about it. When I first started trying to make improvements financially, I thought, “If only someone will help me, I’ll make better financial decisions.” The kind of “help” I was looking for was a consolidation loan or lower interest rates. I called my bank and credit card companies looking for more credit or lower rate cards I could switch to and got turned down every single time. I was going about things completely backwards.
I was looking outside myself for the answer when what I needed to do was commit to changing my behavior. As soon as I did that, things started to change. My mindset shifted from “Why won’t anyone help me” to “I can do this.” I finally recognized nothing was going to get any better if I didn’t change my thinking and my actions.
It’s okay if you find your focus going back to your debt or lack of funds. It’s a habit that’s likely been building over time, so it will take you time to get into a more positive mindset. Here are some things you can try when you feel stuck in the “why won’t anyone help me” mindset.
- Say your affirmations,
- Go for a walk,
- Call a friend and talk it out,
- Play with your pets or your kids,
- Listen to music.
As you can see, this list is designed to provide you with positive vibes. The “why won’t anyone help me” mindset stems from pity and disappointment. So, get positive and feel those vibes as you embark on a new financial story.
Michael Korda says, “In order to succeed, we must first believe we can.” I believe we can all succeed, no matter what our goals are. Next, you’ll find some affirmations you can use to help you make this mindset shift.
The following affirmations are great for starting over with your personal finances, but as always, I encourage you to create your own. They always mean more when they come from your heart.
- Today is a clean slate.
- I make healthy financial choices.
- I make the best decisions to improve my financial situation.
Choose the affirmation(s) that resonates with you the most and repeat it as often as you can each day. You can do fun things like turn it into your phone screensaver, write it on a Post-It, or record yourself saying it to remind yourself to repeat it often.
Journaling is so powerful when it comes to understanding ourselves and making big changes in our lives. Here are some questions to take to your journal when it comes to starting over financially.
How can I start over right this minute?
There is always something you can do right now, even if it’s simply changing your attitude or writing a note about something you want to research at a later date.
What does a clean slate look like when it comes to my personal finances?
It’s important to know what a clean slate looks like to you, because it will be different for all of us. If you’re not sure, then start there. It’s okay to admit you don’t know what this looks like. The more you write about it, the clearer it will become.
When it comes to my personal finances, what do I need to let go of in order to start over?
For me, this was all about letting go of the thought that someone (a bank or credit card company) was going to rescue me from my poor financial situation. Once I realized it was up to me, things started to improve. So, what beliefs are you hanging on to that are preventing you from starting over?
Starting over is a wonderful thing. It’s never too late and you can do it any time you like. While there are a lot of things to consider, including your mindset and the financial tools and systems at your disposal, I have no doubt you can do it. What step will you take today to start over with your personal finances?
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.