Mindful Cash Flow - Tracking Our Spending And Creating A Budget
Do You Ever Wonder Where Your Money Goes Or Why You Don't Have More?
In order to maintain a healthy relationship with money, we need to be aware of how we spend money. We want to make sure we are actually spending it on what is important to us. Tracking our spending and creating a budget is a first step.
Working from a traditional budget has some inherent complications because we're dealing with the past. The real power comes from is looking forward and deciding how the money will be spent in the future. Consequently, a budget or spending plan needs to be an active, working document that is reviewed and revised frequently. Our lives change from day to day so our budgets need to adjust accordingly. If an unexpected expenditure is necessary, revise the spending plan immediately, making the necessary adjustments. That eliminates surprises.
Our spending plans will be much more effective if we pay it forward. Here's how:
Second, list your income from all sources for the next month or two weeks. It's easier to work on a two-week time table at the beginning of this process.
Third, project all of your expenses for that same time period, including the amounts from your irregular bills
The big difference is that you'll now be looking at the situation freshly and in advance. You haven't spent any money yet, so you're in complete control of what you do. You can brainstorm ideas, try out various options, explore new alternatives. No remorse, no guilt. No shame or blame. You have the opportunity to make new decisions in advance.
Coach Judy Maloy is an expert at working with people using this type of spending plan to create prosperity and design an entirely new relationship to money. She has worked effectively with hundreds of clients teaching them this new forward-looking method of spending within their income, paying off debt and saving for the future. When I first met her, I knew her guilt-free way of working with clients was special. Eventually, I asked her to teach me her method, which I use every single month for myself and coach clients as well.
"People are often so discouraged. They have tried keeping budgets for years, with little or no success," Judy says of her clients. "It's wonderful to watch their transformation to empowerment around money. It's not so much about the amount of money you have, but whether you are in control of your spending. That's what counts."
Working with a coach can be especially helpful for single women. They may not have anyone with whom they can discuss common day-to-day decisions. One woman told Mary, "I love working with you. You've got my back!"
It's important to find the balance between being prudent for the future and enjoying life today. That's why I always add a 'save now to enjoy later' line item in the spreadsheet. One client had used the 'starve and binge method' with her purchases. She wanted a lamp, said no for months and then one day she just went out and bought it. How much better to avoid all that suffering by deciding in advance when and how much to pay for a new item.
Having choice about spending develops a sense of empowerment. One client had always wanted to go to a spa so she decided she would forgo many her usual self-care expenses for the next year to save up enough money. She trimmed her clothing and make-up expenses as well as her usual self-care habits such as massage and manicures. At the end of the year, she had saved enough to go to spa she wanted. From that experience, she reports two major results. She discovered she could accomplish the financial goal she had set for herself; she felt proud and successful. She also discovered that as much as she loved the spa retreat, she prefers to enjoy those self-care items throughout the year instead of one specific time and place. Now she enjoys herself even more when she takes care of herself throughout the year.
So make your spending plan an active document. It may seem strange at first, but it gets easier and faster as time goes on. Get some support at the beginning. You don't have to do this on your own. Decide how you want to spend your money but when changes arise, be flexible. Return to your spending plan and adjust as necessary. Revising is the crucial step. Spend and save your money in a way that makes you feel great.
About the Author:
Judi Martindale, (www.judimartindale.com), a certified financial planner as well as a certified coach and author, was named as one of American's top 250 financial planners for three years in a row by Worth magazine. She specializes in working with women's concerns all over the country.