No matter how financially prepared you were, or were not, if nothing else, the pandemic showed us how much more aware of our money we need to be. Some of us were made painfully aware of how much we’ve been living ‘paycheck to paycheck’, even though many of us are self employed. For many, our savings were slim, if there were any at all. Gratefully, if you’re here, you survived the ‘lockdown’ in your area and you may be ready to get a better handle on your money. But you may be wondering, “Where do I start?”
That’s why I wanted to offer 3 simple steps to take charge of your money and start to put some new habits in place.
1. Take charge by getting clear about your money.
Whether you’re starting on a vacation by car or on a visit to a new mall, the starting point for the journey always starts with, “Where are you now?” This journey is no different. So the first thing is to write down all of your expenses. This may sound simple, but if you haven’t been doing it in a while (or ever), you may need to take time to gather your bills together or download your bank statements for the last 3 months or so to even find out what you’ve been spending.
Write them out starting with the necessities:
a. Mortgage or rent payment
b. Utilities – Electric, Water, Gas, Oil, etc.
c. Transportation – including car payment, public transportation, parking or tolls if needed and don’t forget your auto insurance. You don’t want to let that lapse.
d. Food – groceries, eating out, snacks, school lunches
Then you can move to the more flexible or variable expenses, such as, business expenses, cable, credit cards, child care, and anything else you could technically live without, even though in an ideal world, you wouldn’t.
Now your cell phone, these days, could be considered a necessity, in most cases, it’s still a luxury. Even if you absolutely have to have it to stay in touch with the rest of the world, you may be able to ‘downsize’ on the phone or the bill.
Next, write down any income, savings, stocks, 401K or any other liquid assets you have on hand now ,or may be coming in the near future. Don’t list anything that would be like winning the lottery. Only things that are pretty much a sure thing. After all, this is about getting clear on where you are right now.
2. Contact your creditors. There may be more help than you realize.
Now that you have each expense listed, take a look at your income. From the top down, what can you realistically pay in the foreseeable future? If the first step wasn’t hard enough, this is the time when you really have to pull up your big girl (or guy) pants, and get REAL. If you’re in a situation where you can’t really afford the necessities, trust that there is help available, but you will need to reach out.
Contact each and every creditor that you can’t pay or it would put a hardship on you if you do pay it. It may take being on hold, maybe going online in a few cases, but call if you can. Let them know your situation, that you acknowledge the debt or expense and ask what they may be able to do to help you. As I said before, there may be more help than you realize. They may be able to put some of your payments on hold/defer them, add them to the end of your loan, or maybe create a payment plan you can afford.
NOTE: If you get someone who is rude or not helpful, calmly thank them, hang up and call back to get a different (more helpful) person.
3. Cut the fat. What can you get away without right now?
This doesn’t have to be a lifelong decision, but what can you cut down or cut out for the next 3-6 months until things turn around, either by increasing income or reducing your expenses or a combination of both. Things on the top of the list – cable TV, check to see if you can lower your cell phone plan, make minimum payments on credit cards or other less essential expenses. Look for store brands at the grocery store. Choose your grocery stores wisely, especially for stable items.
These 3 steps are very simple, but admittedly, they are not always easy to start, and can be even harder to continue on a regular, i.e. daily, weekly and monthly basis. But I will promise you that if you’ll adapt theses simple steps, you will start to take charge of your money, both what’s coming in and what’s going out. You’ll make more ‘conscious’ decisions rather than impulsive buys. And with your newfound clarity, you may even find that you’re getting new ideas on how to increase your income and how to be better prepared for whatever the future holds! Wishing you peace on your journey.
Salon Business Coach
Miki Wright, founder of www.BeautySuperStars.com, is respected as a Leader in the Beauty Industry; from her work as an Award Winning Hair Designer, highly praised Platform Artist, Competitor, Educator and a Business Coach who gets results. Wright has been a long time Educator for Hair Shows such as the International Beauty Shows, Bronner Bros. and the ISSE Hair Show.
Wright was the Owner of Fabulous Finishes Salon and Day Spa, one of the first African-American owned spa facilities in the country! In addition, her salon was selected by Salon Today Magazine as one of the “200 Fastest Growing Salons” in the country, for three consecutive years! In addition, her salon was featured in the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine and Essence Magazine, which brought Black women from across the US into her salon and spa for pampering!
She continues to share her knowledge to help Beauty Pros create the clientele, income and lifestyle they desire. Miki recently created Beauty SuperStars Talk to showcase the stories and celebrate the excellence of Black Beauty Industry Professionals.
Be sure to visit www.BeautySuperstars.com for a free gift.