I believe one of the reasons that money management is difficult to discuss is because of the fact that our society is focused on a million ways to spend it and only a select few ways to manage, save, and increase it. For mothers, we seek to provide for our families by any means necessary – just about. One of the ways I suggest is to be sure to start a Spending Diary (WHAT?!?!) A Spending Diary is just like a food diary – when you initially want to change the way you eat, you usually first chronicle how you eat currently. The same is true for matters of money and the spending habits you may have. When do you spend the most money? Where? Why? How much did you spend? What form of currency did you use (cash, debit, credit, check, etc.)? Is there a pattern? Most of the time when there is a pattern, it is formed out of habit. Believe it or not, we can change habits! Just ask any multi-millionaire.
Your Spending Diary should be written for at least a week without changing anything– just jot everything down. We could spend money out of emergency necessities but this is often not the bulk of our spending. Each day during that first week, write down where and when you spent ALL of your money, leave nothing out. This information can then be reviewed the following week to see if there are patterns in reaction to events in our lives like stress, anxiousness, boredom, or depression. Seeing the hard truth can be eye-opening but try to remember that you are planning to do much better with your finances in the very near future. Taking a harsh look at reality helps the process of true progress. For instance, when you attempt to lose weight, diet and exercise are essential, right? In order to make schedule changes to coincide with your weight loss/fitness goals, you’d have to take a look at your week and decide where some time would be available to just focus on your health – whether that’s meal planning or working out. The same can be said of your financial stewardship goals. What do you do with your money regularly? Are there ways you could manage your finances more efficiently?
Once you are able to see your habits and make plans for changes in your spending, you can see real results with your finances. You should be able to see where there may be opportunities for saving a little extra daily, weekly, or even monthly depending on your budget. Once you’re able to execute your new spending habits and save money, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment (trust me). You will also see where you might have some difficulties and start to think of ways to address them.
Our ideals surrounding money – how to get it, spend it, and make more of it – are very different depending on our culture, upbringing, education, and habits. This is why many couples do so poorly with their finances – no one is on the same page! Take a hard look at yourself and if you have goals, start making small changes now that could lead to HUGE payoffs later. Knowing your spending habits also helps you to feel much more comfortable talking about money matters with those closest to you, bringing more communication and understanding in your home- who can’t use more of that?
Danita Sims is an aspiring entrepreneur and workforce development professional with extensive experience in social services and Case Management. Ms. Sims has assisted a variety of job seekers, including veterans and disabled adults, with finding employment and adjusting to career changes. Many of her clients seek to transition into new careers with financial and educational barriers hindering their success. Ms. Sims shares community resources, teaches Employment Readiness, and provides Career Counseling in order to see her clients obtain self sufficient employment and pursue their career goals. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Ms. Sims has a passion for helping people progress towards their career goals and is an advocate for education. Her BA degree is in English with a minor in African America Studies from Southern IL University-Carbondale where she also studied creative writing, journalism, and education. She also has a Master’s in Urban Planning and Policy (MUPP) with a concentration in Community Development from the University of IL at Chicago. Among her peers, she is known for simplifying complex issues, offering conflict resolution, and being able to connect with individuals of various socioeconomic statuses, cultures, skill sets, & educational backgrounds. Ms. Sims also has experience in Business Development and uses her ability to create and maintain strategic partnerships that would influence a community as a whole.
Image credits: startuplansing.org, accare.org.au