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Money

7 Paths to Financial Freedom in 2014

February 20, 2014

Many of you enjoyed the last post on 7 Ways to Go Broke in 2014. Or now you are mad at me for exposing that your habitual behavior will actually lead to your financial destruction over time. Sorry, not sorry. I wanted to follow up with that post by diving into what you can do to begin a path towards financial peace this upcoming year. We want everyone to experience this blessing.

How do you get started though? Below are 7 Paths to Financial Peace:

1. Acknowledge the problem in the mirror.

dog in mirror

Anytime I can work in a dog photo, I am happy.

“I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place (If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place) Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change…..” Michael Jackson

The first step in changing anything let alone your financial world, is to stop and ackowledge the problem: You. Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. If you aren’t experiencing financial freedom, you gotta look at you and your behavior first. Therein you will find your problem. Owning that is the first step towards any healthy changes to come.

2. Attend Financial Peace University – FPU

fpuThis past Fall Jonathan and I coordinated our very first Financial Peace University class. It was awesome!!!

We had a group of about 35 people who met once a week for 9 weeks. In that time we watched videos, reviewed our budgets, had great discussions, and held one another accountable. This class is completely worth signing up for! Visit this website to find a class beginning near you today. And no, we didn’t get paid to host the class or to endorse it in any way whatsoever.

3. Read The Total Money Makeover

tmmmoIf you haven’t read this book…you need to. Get it here today. Super easy read with lots of inspiring stories to motivate along the way!

4. Begin walking through the 7 Baby Steps

baby stepsRemember Doctor Leo Marvin from “What about Bob?” Possibly the world’s most hilarious movie. Well, his Baby Steps book has absolutely zero to do with the Baby Steps I am referring to.

Dave Ramsey’s materials will walk you through the 7 Baby Steps on the journey towards Financial Freedom. Walking up these steps is a lot of fun and are incredibly motivating.

5. Embrace the budgeting process.

YNAB

 

The very first thing to do after you assess your financial situation and get a grasp on how much money you have and or owe is to set up a monthly budget and begin implementing the budget process. Why do you need a budget? Visit this blog post for a few reasons. Now, do you have to use software like You Need A Budget (YNAB)? No but we have chosen to utilize that tool and have completely fallen in love with it. Pen and paper, envelopes, budgeting apps, etc. are perfectly fine but you need SOMETHING to help you implement your budgets once you create them.

6. Learn how to say “No.”

no cat

 

This is pretty self explanatory. There will undoubtedly be 1,000 opportunities, desires, temptations, reasons, etc. to NOT follow your budget, attend FPU, read the Total Money Makeover, etc. Matthew Kelly once said, “If you can’t say no, your yes means nothing.” Or maybe he said, “You can’t say no unless you have a deeper yes.” One of those…but both are good and true. You will not haphazardly improve any area of your life. Saying “no” to lots of things that come up and “yes” to intentional decisions that will aide you in your goals will be vital to changing your life.

7. Live like no one else.

live like no one else

 

“Live like no one else so later you can live and give like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

Jonathan and I didn’t sell our Nintendo, eat rice and beans, tell friends no, or sleep on a donated RV mattress for nothing. We lived like no one else so we could live and give like no one else. We’ve already begun to see the effects of this in our life and are pumped to see many more ways down the road.

There you have it folks. PLEASE keep in touch with me if you begin implementing any of these! I would love to be your cheerleader, coach, accountability partner, etc. Whatever you need me to be, I will be it! 🙂

Intentional Living

How to make your New Year’s resolution last

December 31, 2012

Some of you may remember my New Year’s Day post one year ago about going sugar free.

How can I say no?

Remember these?

 

I strategically titled it “Sugar-Free Start to 2012,” since it was a start…at least that wasn’t a lie! 🙂

The intention was to actually carry that out as a lifestyle from that point forward…but even in writing it I knew that I may not be totally ready or even able to cut sugar from my life 100% since we don’t live in a perfect world. Dang. I am happy to say that Jonathan and I made a LOT of progress over the past year and a majority of the time when we are in the “swing of things” and a normal routine, we eat  paleo/gluten-free/sugar-free and are exercising 5-6 days per week. We don’t even buy groceries anymore that aren’t in the “no sugar” category unless it’s for a special occasion or day. We juice frequently and love how eating the right things gives us energy and tastes delicious. Who knew Brussel sprouts were so yummy???

Now when we travel or end up in a foreign situation…it’s a whole different story. We haven’t mastered that yet. It’s tough being at the mercy of flights, other people’s food choices, holiday cookies we have emotional connections with, and lack of a schedule. I am sure a year from now we will be even better in handling those scenarios but I am pleased with the progress we’ve made. Not perfect but definitely reasonable and several steps forward.

So, what have I learned in this past year that I want to pass on to all of you doing your New Year’s Resolutions? Some tid-bits that will help you understand how to move through the processes of change and what to anticipate as you travel from the varying stages successfully. Knowing how most people experience change will but you ahead of the game so you can keep plugging along when resistance hits.

Five Stages of Change

change

 

Stage One: Pre-Contemplation

thoughts_homer

If you are in this stage you aren’t even considering a change in your life. This is a comfortable place. You don’t know what you don’t know and ignorance can be bliss at times. People in this stage aren’t seeking new things out and certainly don’t care to know about any bad lifestyle choices they are making…you are in denial that there is any other way to live than the current way things are. Can’t do a whole lot other than wait for something to spark you in this stage to begin contemplating a different life.

Stage Two: Contemplation

research2

I hate this stage. The bomb of truth has been dropped on you(exercise is actually good for you, smoking kills you, a daily prayer life is essential etc.) and there is no going back. Now you know that you know what’s right but you become keenly aware of the cost of change (time, money, no more Hot N Ready pizzas, less sleep so they can make it to the gym or chapel, etc.) This is the stage where you have to grapple with your own humanity and struggle to accept the benefits of change while weighing them against perceived or even actual losses.

Do a LOT of research during this stage. Seek truth out and find people who are nailing what you want to be doing and ask them how they created that certain habit in their life. Read books at the library, watch documentaries, find reasons that support why change is a good thing. Dream about what your life would be like if you made this change…a year from now? five years from now? How would your life be better? Search your heart and write down your own reasons for why this change is desirable.

Stage Three: Preparation

change ahead

This is a stage of low commitment but definite flirting with change is going on (buying a Stevia sweetener, going on a run once to see how it goes, reading a chapter in a book without a plan to finish, etc.) The decision that change is a good thing is made but now it’s a matter of getting around to it and this stage allows a “slow” start-up as the person starts checking things out and firm up how specific they desire to change.

You have a lot of freedom in this stage since you aren’t technically locked into anything yet. Enjoy this stage and don’t rush it. Experiment with things and continue to research but start trying your new activity on occasion. For example, if you desire to get in shape, before signing up for that half-marathon, go for a run or two…figure out if you even like running. Maybe you end up being into swimming instead but unless you prepare well and look around, you may be missing something.

Stage Four: Action

action

Change has been decided upon. Ideas have been tossed around. Now it’s time to get a SMART goal drawn up. Many New Year’s Resolutions fail because the steps leading up to this stage are glossed over. People don’t need to become experts in their area of change/growth but they at least need to have a basic foundation and have put in the “prep” work getting familiar with the sacrifices the change will bring. Jumping straight into action is a set-up for failure and disillusionment once a hard day hits. Without having internalized the reasons for change…there won’t be enough energy to keep it going.

The first week or two in the action stage will likely be a bit painful…you are doing something new and it’s going to feel awkward. It’s not a habit and some changes will actually bring some suffering to a certain degree. Maybe you are getting a little less sleep with the new workout/prayer schedule. Or everyone at work is going out for pizza but you have to say “no” and eat your lettuce wraps instead. That’s tough. Journaling about the difficulties can help and also reviewing your reasons you wrote down when you were getting started will give you motivation to keep putting in the hard work.

Stage Five: Maintenance

Female hand wiping dining table

I’ve heard it said that it takes 30 days to create a habit. This is the goal of any New Year’s resolution. I think it takes a bit longer in all reality though – more like 3 months. That way you have a holiday, a birthday, a season/weather change, and other variables to work the kinks out of the schedule. You are  progressively but surely beginning to see this foreign activity as a day in and day out activity. You are creating a habit!

There have been good days and bad days but you have been triumphant in carrying out the new routine. Reward yourself during this stage as you are hitting your goals continuously. This will create increased incentive to keep with it, strengthening your habit.

Stage Six: Relapse

1133804_sign_success_and_failure

In the relapse stage it’s easy to become discouraged. Often this occurs when you breach your normal routine (traveling, sickness, holidays, busy season at work, babies are born, that “time of the month” arrives, etc.) These events will occur, so just be prepared for them. You will likely derail on the first few encounters. That’s OK. That is where I see myself at with giving up sugar…I’ve derailed for various seasons over the past year for good and bad reasons. I’ve learned my lessons and see myself getting stronger and my desires are internally changing to reflect the strength in my will. I am becoming harder to derail. There may always be an occasional relapse (at least for me with sugar) and I’m OK with that, knowing that internally I am beginning to prefer NOT eating it compared to eating it. Eventually it won’t really be a big deal for me anymore, so having some cookies at Christmas will “breach” my plan but won’t cause a total derail in my health.

Now if you aren’t feeling the internal change and breaching your plan will actually cause a total derail…it’s time to go back to earlier stages (do some research, remind yourself why you are changing, etc.) and fight to stick to the plan. Remember, if you stray from your change too early on before it becomes a habit, you are at risk for abandonment since your committment is still very new.

Now you know what to expect in the different stages as you embark on your New Year’s resolution changes!! Work your way through the stages one by one and be patient with yourself…no one is perfect!

What changes do you plan to make in 2013?