The 2018 mid-term elections are coming up very soon. It’s time to exercise our right to vote for the candidates or issues that we believe in. While political elections happen every year or so, a much more important election happens every single day, and that’s the decision of how you will vote to spend your dollars.
Our political system gives us the opportunity to vote for the issues or candidates that are important to us. In most cases, political elections happen every year or two. The build up to the election has the candidates advocating for their positions and vying for your vote. There are multiple advertisements on TV, Radio and the internet. When Election day finally arrives the TV networks breathlessly wait for the votes to be counted so they can predict and report on the winners an losers. Many of us invest a lot of time in following the elections and feel either good or bad depending on who wins the election.
While the occasional political election is vital to the functioning of our government and society, many don’t realize that they have the opportunity to vote every single day of their lives in an election that might be even more important to your day to day life. What election is that? The opportunity to elect how to spend your money.
Think about it, each and every day every one of us has the opportunity to decide how we will spend our money. These decisions have a huge impact and can either help us or hurt us as we move through life and try to meet our needs and reach our goals. Money is a limited resource and in order to make the most of it we need to be mindful of how we allocate it. These decisions are essentially votes that we make every day as we cast our ballot in the election of life.
How we vote to spend our dollars today impacts our life both now and decades in the future. Our lives are a constant battle of meeting today’s needs and desires vs tomorrow’s needs and goals. So, with that huge responsibility in mind, wouldn’t it be great if we could do a better job of deciding where to spend our money?
A key to making informed votes is to have information on the candidates. Using that information we can evaluate our choices and decide how to vote. Just like the “voter handbooks” that are available for political elections, there are some tools we can use to make a more informed decision on how to vote with our dollars (the candidates). When it come to the question of how you will spend your dollars knowledge is definitely key.
Many times, all it takes to doing better when we vote with our dollars is building a greater awareness of where our dollars are actually going. By seeing and knowing (instead of guessing) where you are spending your money today you can make better decisions about where you will spend your money tomorrow. One of the best ways to gain this knowledge is through keeping a record of where and how you spend your money. There are many online tools like Mint that you can use to keep track of our money as it comes into and goes out of our life. You can use one of the online tools or build your own but I would suggest that you take a hard look at a app called YNAB. I particularly like YNAB because it allows you to “give every dollar a job”. I have used YNAB to track our own cash flow for the last 4 years and have been very happy with it. It offers lots of flexibility and there is a vibrant community of users to help you and offer encouragement and support. I use YNAB with a number of clients to help them identify and track their spending. Whichever tool you use, the important thing is to actually act on the knowledge about where and why you are spending your money. Once you know where you are spending your money you can make better decisions about how best to use money to live the life you want to live.
If you are motivated to use tools like these on a regular basis they can definitely help you. However, many people don’t use them, and I think that’s because they don’t know (or consider) the bigger picture. Without knowing what it is that we are trying to achieve long-term it can be hard to make better short-term decisions. How do you fix this? By building your own financial life plan.
Having a plan for how you want to your life to be, both now and in the future, is key to making smart decisions with your money. If you know where you want to go, it’s a lot easier to make the decisions needed to get there. Educate yourself and start building your own plan by taking the time to consider where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Write down some realistic goals and objectives and start working towards those goals today. Take action and start moving down the path you want to take instead of the path that will be dictated to you by not planning.
Building and acting on a financial life plan takes work. While many people have the time, motivation and energy to do it on their own, many do not. That’s where working with an experienced professional comes in. If you would like some help building your own financial plan or would like a second opinion on anything related to your financial life, I’d be honored to speak with you. You can contact me by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting our website at www.financialclaritypartners.com and clicking the link for the “Contact Us” page. Or, if you want to speak with me directly, go ahead and give me a call at 678-626-7526 and we can discuss your needs and determine if my services might be a match.