Who This Guide is For
If you’re worried, stressed, or frustrated, if you get calls from creditors, if you don’t have enough money to cover expenses, if your electricity is being turned off from time to time, or if you feel like you make lots of money but you don’t get to keep any of it, or if you feel like what’s happening in life with your money isn’t working and there must be a better way, then this guide is for you.
What This Guide Will Do For You
This guide outlines simple steps to get your finances under control. It includes overviews and details all along the way, so that you can follow along.
My goal is to provide you with the tools to
- be happy with your financial situation
- get out of debt.
- stay out of debt
- prepare for retirement
- invest in your future
It’s a practical guide to managing your money.
Well, first there’s the introduction that you’re reading right now, then there’s (what I hope is) a motivational section, and then there are the steps sections.
Most sections consist of steps to follow along the way and each step includes four basic parts.
- Prerequisites – A description of what you’ll need before starting the current step.
- Action – How to complete the goals of the current step (actions to take).
- You’re Done When – How you’ll know when you’re done with the current step.
- General discussion
There are also general “Info” sections scattered throughout. The info sections have no prerequisites and can be read in any order at any time. Of course, the steps are meant to be completed in order for the most part and will be the most effective if done in order.
I hope that this guide will give you everything you need to get out of debt, become financially independent, and have a better relationship with money. Let’s get started.
Make a Commitment
This is supposed to be a motivational section, but while I have spent loads of time learning about personal finance, I have spent little to no time learning how to motivate people. So here goes. :)
These steps are explained simply and they are simple to do. Simple doesn’t mean easy though. What people don’t realize is that managing money isn’t as much about money as it is about personal change. Your personal regard towards money must change over time for you to get a handle on it. Yes, everything is laid out simply enough that you will be successful if you only follow the steps and don’t “think” about it along the way. That’s really not the point though, since neither of us is a robot. The point is happiness, contentedness, confidence, and control. Before you begin and as you’re completing each step, I invite you to take some time to think about where you are now, where you’d like to be, and how the current step may change how you see money.
Now for a warning. I can explain things. I’m good at that, but I can’t do it for you. If you’re not ready to make a commitment to change your habits then please do me the favor of not continuing to read. I don’t say that to be glib. I want to help you – that’s why I created this text. At the same time, I can’t force you to do anything – I’m limited to explaining how you can make changes. I ask you to make a commitment for two reasons. One, because changing your current habits is the only way to improve your situation. It’s useless to continue without being ready to commit to change. Two, I don’t want you to read through everything, apply nothing, and then say “That guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about because it didn’t work for me.” I can try my best to motivate you, but ultimately the decision to act is yours. This change does not cost money – it costs you personal time, reflection, and effort in understanding a different philosophy and way of doing things. Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re ready to continue.
- Are you ready to commit time every day to improving your finances?
- Are you willing to complete each step fully before moving on to the next?
- Are you willing to spend time considering what makes you happy?
There is no instant fix – this is an ongoing process. In five years when you’re debt free, you will still spend time regularly managing your money, but you will be happier about it and you’ll wish you had started sooner.
Also I invite you to contact me personally with any questions or issues you have. I’d like to improve the guide as much as possible and I’m genuinely interested in the experience other people are having with it and with their money, since the only direct experience I’ve had is with my own relationship with money.
Where Are You Now
I’ve packaged this content as a “get out of debt” guide, so if you’re here, you’re probably in a bit of trouble. Maybe it’s not that bad though; maybe your water isn’t getting turned off and your credit card isn’t getting declined. Perhaps you just have a general feeling of discontent with owing people money and paying 150% of an item’s price instead of only 100% because of finance charges. In any case, now is the chance to consider what got you here.
Lots of people in the United States are in debt in a bad way, so it’s “normal.” Therefore part of what got you here is everyone else (aka society in general). Advertising and our consumerist society in general push us all to buy more. I don’t say “consumerist society” to purposely try to make it sound negative. Economists agree that consumerism and growth are built into the fabric of the American economy. Inflation helps this along every step of the way. So that’s part of what got you here. The main part though, is your habits.
Where do you want to be? That’s the important question. Imagine some time in the future, being completely debt free. What would that feel like? What would that entail? Does it mean being able to buy everything you want? Does it mean not being worried? Does it mean no one “sticking it to you” with finance charges? It’s important to know what you want to get out of the journey you’re embarking on. If you don’t know, you won’t make it to the end. So please take some time now to precisely define what you want your situation to be like when you’re out of debt. Remember, this is not a guide on how to become a millionaire stock investor. :) Keep it reasonable. Write down how you want to feel about your finances or what you want to accomplish. Write it anywhere – on a napkin, on scrap paper, type it into Google Keep, just do it now. Even if you don’t use it later, the act of writing it down will solidify it in your mind and make clearer what you want to accomplish.
- I want to be worry free about money.
- I want to have no credit card debt.
- I want to be able to retire at a normal age.
- I want to be stress free about money.
- I want to be a millionaire. (Why?)
- I want to be able to buy everything I want. (Unrealistic)
- I want to be richer than my friends. (Not about you)
Feel free to send me what you’ve written.
Go! Write now!
Your Relationship With Money
Right now your relationship is not doing so well. Money does a lot of things for you, but you hardly pay any attention to it at all! If money were a person, you would have been dumped a long time ago. Relationships are two way streets you know – you have to contribute as well. From where you are now you can’t just rush in and start whispering sweet nothings. You have to ease into it little by little. Being happy with money takes time. You can’t just buy it lavish gifts and expect it to be grateful – it wants to know you care. The best way to do that is by spending some quality time together. You don’t have to talk about your feelings all the time, but you do have to get to know that special someone and understand how they work. You also have to be very clear on what you want so money can give it to you. It can’t give you everything you know! It can give you a lot of good times though, and will definitely give you what you need.