Finances are like relationships; they take a lot of work, change over time, and you need to find the one that’s right for you. This Valentine’s Day, light some candles, get yourself a delicious treat and try these tips to rekindle the spark with your bank account.
Know what you want
Every relationship has “the talk” when things get serious – about topics like kids, careers, or where to live. It’s important that our goals match our partner’s to be compatible long-term. The same is true of finances. You need to know what you want for your money to best serve you. Do you dream of owning your own business? Are you trying to save up to buy a house? Do you live for the day when you’re finally done with your toxic ex, a.k.a. debt? These answers lay the foundation for building a strong financial strategy.
Set one goal that excites you
As a society, we’ve constructed this idea that personal finances should be all work and no play, but this isn’t true. Yes, it is important to attend to your needs first, but finance isn’t just about getting by; it’s about managing your resources so you can meet your needs and enjoy life.
So, step away from this either/or mindset and bring something exciting into your finances. Set one goal you can look forward to – not because it’s a relief, but because it makes you happy. It can be something minor, like a trip to your favorite store, or something big, like that trip to Europe you’ve always dreamed about
Get to know each other
First dates are like a compatibility test. Sure, you think the other person is cute, but do you share common interests? Do they chew with their mouth open or have horrible taste in music? You won’t know unless you get to know them. Get to know your finances better by having a first date of your own. Set aside time to give your finances a thorough overview, from your account balances to your spending and your debts. Find out if your current financial habits are compatible with your future goals. It’s normal to get nervous on the first date, so make things a bit easier on yourself by ordering from a favorite restaurant or indulging in one of your comfort foods. This way, you’ll have something positive to associate with the experience.
Don’t compare yourself to other individuals
Just like relationships, finances are very personal, and it doesn’t do any good to compare yours to other people you may know. What they have won’t change what you have; only your actions can do that. Save your energy – focus on your efforts and see what you can build. If you would find some context helpful to see how your financial situation shapes up, look for benchmarks based on large groups, like national surveys of different generational cohorts.
Talk to an expert
We get so caught up in our own emotions it can be hard to separate what we feel from what is factual. Sometimes we need outside help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lost or woefully unprepared for the future, a financial professional could be the objective third party you need to find a way forward with your finances. Consider a financial coach to learn about financial basics and practices. for more immediate goals or other financial needs, like taking out a business loan, look for a financial advisor. A financial planner is the way to go for long-term goals like retirement.
Make time for each other
Finances and relationships are ongoing and need consistent maintenance to stay healthy. A stale marriage ends in divorce; stale finances can end in bankruptcy or worse. The financial strategy you used five years ago and the one you’ll need ten years from now will be different. By checking in with your finances consistently, you’ll be able to make adjustments and address changes as they come, rather than letting them grow into regrets.
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