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As we near Christmas, we finally start wrapping up the last of our holiday shopping. Gifts are purchased, wrapped and put under the tree as eager family awaits Christmas morning. In a flurry of wrapping paper, red bows and cardboard boxes, we get to enjoy gifts from those we love, and experience the joy of giving to our loved ones as well.
But most people neglect to get themselves a gift.
So I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the best gift that you can give to yourself this Christmas. It’s a simple gift, but can have a profound impact on your financial future.
What Is It?
This gift is something that can help lift the burden of financial stress in your life. It doesn’t cost you anything, but can save you a ton in the long run. This gift is simple to use, but hard to implement. The lasting impact will give you increased enjoyment and long-lasting contentment.
That gift is….a break.
Give Yourself A Break
Here’s what I mean. Every day, I have people who are seeking financial help come to this site, read articles on how to save money and how to get on a budget, and then take action by downloading my budget spreadsheet to get their money started on the right path. I’ve done money coaching for a few of them, chatted over email, and more recently, (through a site survey) have started hearing about why exactly people are looking to start taking care of their finances.
I have heard from you that you feel stuck, that your money just isn’t doing what you want it to do, and you need help. Even more of you are trying to find a way out of debt, cope with financial loss and find a way to hang onto the money that seems to slip through your fingers each month. You all have goals and dreams of what life would be like “if only” the money part would start working out.
And I hear you.
I started this site 3 1/2 years ago out of a passion to help people get on a budget. Not because budgets are super fun and exciting (well, they are to me 😉 ), but because budgets are the core tool to help people get financially free. There is nothing more satisfying than showing someone how to give each dollar a purpose, and seeing the light come on as they start moving in the right direction. I have emails and testimonies from those who are saving more, hitting goals sooner than they ever imagined, and have had the burden lifted that weighed them down for so many years.
Getting on a budget plan can, and will, change your financial life.
But if you are here and are feeling broke, desperate and have lost financial hope, I want you to do this first.
Give. Yourself. A. Break.
The fact that you are here seeking financial education and a way out means you have already taken your first step toward financial freedom. You should stand up and pat yourself on the back that you care enough about yourself, your family and your life to get your money right. Stop feeling guilty for making money mistakes, or not being able to figure it out on your own.
There will be plenty more “Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t know this 10 years ago” moments along your financial freedom journey, and feeling bad for not knowing will NOT help you. Heck, I keep learning things that make me think “geez, I’m dumb”, but I take that learning, change my habits for the better and move on.
Being ashamed of your past financial mistakes is just a roadblock on your journey to financial success.
And this goes for those who have been on a budget for years as well. Actually, this is ESPECIALLY for those on a budget. Financial mistakes can and will happen, and dwelling on them will make you bitter, but it won’t make you richer! The people who I know have had the most financial success were able to STAY THE COURSE on their financial plan, even when they blew the budget, or life knocked them down. And those people I know who gave up on their budget are those who got fed up when they blew it, or something came up and drained their savings for the month. What they told themselves was “I can’t get ahead”, but what they needed to hear was “it’s ok, life happens, let’s pick it back up and move on.”
Wherever You Are Right Now Is The Best Place To Start
As someone who is driven by results, I often get frustrated when it feels like I’m going nowhere. For example, our debt payoff journey has gone slower than I would have hoped. We’re now less than $5,000 away from debt freedom, but it’s taken many years longer than I would have hoped. Sometimes I feel like it’s never going to happen, and I read all these stories of people paying of ridiculous sums of debt in just a few months or a year, and think that I did it wrong.
But then I snap back to reality and realize that dwelling on past decisions or lack of progress isn’t actually helping. What helps is looking at where we are right now and making a plan to take action on reaching our goal of debt freedom.
Wherever you are in your financial journey is the BEST place to start.
I typically recommend walking through the Budgeting Basics. Not because a piece of paper will change your financial future, but because the 5-part series gets down to the core of where you are, and where you want to be. The first part doesn’t even touch on your current financial situation, but instead focuses on what direction you’d like your life to go. After that, you can fill in the financial details and really start working toward debt freedom, retirement savings, buying a house, or whatever financial goals you have on your list. But you need to start now.
Stop being hard on yourself. Your financial mistakes don’t define you.
Instead, accept where you are and take your first step forward. You have nothing more to lose and the world to gain.
p.s. this applies to more than money. This applies to any situation in your life, whether it’s your health, your relationships or your career, etc. Accept where you are and make a plan to get where you want to be.
Comments: How have you been hard on yourself this year? How are you going to fix that attitude next year, and what are you going to do differently?