Q. Dear Dollar Didi, I am struggling. I earn well, spend well and save some money too. And yet I see my colleagues buying premium cars, houses and so much more. Some of them even earn less than me. What am I doing wrong?
I know what you mean. Been there in my 20s and done that. Living from paycheque to paycheque, always believing that there’s more coming next month and yeah that horrible YOLO advice of You Only Live Once.
While YOLO is good, you can make the most of it, by IIF (Investing In your Future) so that YEP (You Enjoy your Present), WAS (Without Any Stress).
STEP 1: Identify Your Goals
I know it’s a tedious exercise but unless you sit down with a pen and paper to find out what your financial goals are, you will never reach financial stability. What are your personal financial goals?
Do you want to go abroad to study? Have you paid off your credit card debt? Do you have an emergency fund for the next 6-12 months? Do you have ideas for a business? Want to plan a holiday? What goals do you see for your family – child’s education, health insurance for yourself or your parents, buying a car or home and even your retirement plan?
Let me say it out loud. You are not going to be working for all your life. I mean, you can but by the time you reach the golden years, you should have the option of not working. So instead, make your money work for you.
When you identify your financial goals, you are actually building a destination to go to. Tell me, when did you ever decide on a holiday without deciding upon the place you would go to. Once you have your goals in place, ask yourself these questions.
- How long have I had these goals for?
- What are the different ways I have tried to achieve them?
Okay, now don’t cry and be disheartened if you haven’t tried anything. Just remember that wishing and hoping and praying never got anyone anywhere unless it was preceded by decisive action. So let’s get to the next step.
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STEP 2: Find Out The Skills That Your Goal Needs
Let’s now take this important step of Skill Development.
Are you a photographer who needs to branch out in a niche area of photography? Or are you a home-baker who needs a professional degree to branch out further? Or an Instagram blogger who needs to learn how to promote their blog.
Did you know that real achievers have a written game plan for their personal development? They understand the courses or experiences they’re taking or creating so that they can level up. They know exactly what they need to be working on, in order to grow and achieve more.
List the skills you need to achieve your goal. Here are some examples:
- Money Management Skills
- Business skills
- Time management skills
- Marketing skills
Perhaps you feel that you don’t have the money to fund your skills. Or perhaps your money is diverted either in family expenditure or you don’t get to save anything by the end of the month. Or if you don’t have a regular source of income, you are resistant in spending money on skilling up.
If you have money to eat out, to shop for clothes for weddings and other events or for personal grooming, then you definitely have money in your hands, darling. I’m not saying don’t indulge but see if you can come down to one meal out instead of four and one dress instead of two. Every penny in your pocket would become an ocean. Also, save the money you receive from relatives for birthdays and special occasions and add it to your Up-Skilling Fund. Trust me, investing in yourself is the best investment you can make.
STEP 3: Know Your 5 Moves
Once you have understood the skills you need to develop, ask yourself these questions and answer honestly. In this exam, the only one you can cheat is yourself. So don’t judge yourself but be honest.
- What moves can I take to develop these skills?
- What are the things that really matter?
- What are the time wasters?
- What 5 moves will make the most difference in achieving your goal?
- What is a lot of activity but gets no real progress?
- Where exactly to focus?
Ask yourself these questions over and over again. The answers to these questions will reveal what is most essential in your journey towards attaining your goals.
Everything else is either just distraction or should be delegated to others.
STEP 4: Use The Calendar As Your Secret Weapon
My friend and mentor, Priyanka Bhatia, the founder of Women On Wealth and collaborator on this article believe that If it’s not on the calendar, it’s a dead goal. Your calendar reveals who you really are and what you really want in life.
You need completion deadlines, learning dates, practice times, feedback meetings. You need daily action items. Your calendar better be clear, full and motivating. Of course, you can take time out for a cup of coffee or a 5-minute meditation to clear your head but when you account for every single minute, you realise the power of that minute.
Start using your calendar like a weapon of achievement. What goes in there is strategic thinking. Approach your calendar like it’s the most important thing in your life because what goes in there, becomes your life.
What you focus on, you are. What you’re scheduling consistently you become. And let’s admit. There is a schoolgirl delight at ticking off each item as you keep completing it on the Calendar. The small achievements will translate into bigger ones when you finally reach your goals.
STEP 5: Get A Financial Coach And Partner Up
Unfortunately, my love, we were not raised to be financially conscious. We were asked not to waste money but we were never told how to grow our money. Many times, as adults we find ourselves at loggerheads over what to do with our money even if we are earning enough. And we end up following the same patterns as our parents.
If you find it difficult to manage your finances, it’s best to get a financial coach. No, a coach is not a financial planner. The coach will not do things for you but will show you the path on how to do it.
Remember your sports coach back in school? They never went in and played for the team but they showed you the right moves on how to win matches.
A financial coach shortens your start time and the learning curve because they will know how to ask the right questions.
- What to focus on?
- How to begin?
- What to avoid?
- How to approach your growth?
- Whom to follow?
- How to correct course along the way?
While you can perfectly manage your finances on your own, a financial coach can provide you the clarity, teach you how to change your patterns and beliefs and help you breakthrough any obstacles in your journey.
If you have a coach who can give you weekly direction or feedback then you’ll be way more motivated and accountable.
Once you have a coach, you can partner up with people who have a similar vision of realising their financial dreams. Not only will your people encourage and motivate you but they will inspire you to keep you on track and pull you up in case you find yourself sinking again.
That’s all there is to it, my girl. Now all you have to do is, START.
This post is written in collaboration with Priyanka Bhatia from Women on Wealth. Since 2008, Priyanka has worked passionately on creating platforms and programs for wealth creation for women. Women on Wealth was created in 2012 to provide skills to women who experienced financial anxiety or suffocation and lacked the skills to take them towards financial freedom.