You’re a mama and you’re looking for help with your finances. I get it. I have been there. Feeling alone. Feeling out of control. Not knowing where to turn or how to get a handle on your finances, your mothering, your life…
Look no further friend! I’ve distilled a lot of complex information into this quick start guide to help you, well, get started.
First, thank you for being here. Seriously. Thank you. It means a lot to me that you’re trusting me to guide you through this super personal, and sometimes emotional journey.
Second, let me give you a quick synopsis about myself and my family’s journey.
My short story is: We paid off $100,000 in student loan debt in 26 months and in the process worked 60 hour weeks, got pregnant, had our third (and fourth – and, yes, I know how babies are made) children and completely changed the way we approach money and life. Now that the debt is gone, my husband and I are reaching towards paying off our mortgages. Yep, two. We have our primary home with a mortgage balance of $258,000 and a rental home with a mortgage balance of $175,000. It’s a work in progress!
(If you want a longer story, that’s on My Story Page!)
Through the amazingly enlightening and difficult process of debt payoff, I found I LOVE guiding other mamas towards finding what works (and what might not) with personal finance, intentional living, and family life. Let’s do this together!
This newcomer’s page is a distilled, step-by-step process to help you begin to live with intention in your personal and financial life. I’ll be straight up and let you know that this is NOT an easy process. There is some serious, deep work you have to do in order to really know what you want and how to get there. Put the work in now and reap the benefits of an intentional life later.
- Clear vision for your life.
- Understanding who you are (singularly and as a family unit) and what you stand for by creating Family Values specific to you!
- Aligning your finances (and ultimately your whole life) with your Family Values.
- Creating a budget you can actually maintain and use because it’s truly based on what YOU want and need. No cookie cutter budgets here!
- Finding more peace in your personal life – once your finances are in order, the possibilities for your future become limitless!
So, let’s get started.
Oh, one more thing, if you’re part of a couple I highly recommend that you do all of these steps together. It’s an intimate, enlightening and connecting process. Turn the TV off after the kids are in bed, make a cup of tea (or wine) and get ready to know each other better.
Honestly, if you’re married, the dreaming must be done together. Your vision should be a family vision. Of course some dreams may be more personal and that’s great, but finances should always have a shared vision. Always.
Go get ‘em.
Step 1: CALCULATE YOUR NET WORTH.
OK, wait! Don’t skip ahead. I know that would be my initial reflex. It feels like a minor step in the grand scheme of getting your finances and life in order. It’s not. It’s usually a turning point – the task that tips the scales towards true desire for change.
One warning, this can often lead to a pretty crappy realization. Don’t wallow. You’re here and you’re moving towards a place of intention and control. You’ve got to know the truth about what you’re dealing with before you can change things.
Go for it girl. Go.
Step 2: DEFINE YOUR VALUES.
So, this step is HARD. It’s deep work and if you choose to skip this step or stay superficial in your answers, the rest of this process just won’t work. Do the work friend. You will NOT regret it.
When my husband and I first started down the road of paying off $100,000 in debt, we took this second step because we began dreaming of a future without debt payments. We began dreaming and realizing if we didn’t have $1000 in payments every month we would be able to reach towards goals that had been feeling unattainable.
We began by answering this one question…”Where do we want to be in 5 years?”
Step 3: TRACK YOUR SPENDING.
OK, you’ve done so much hard work! Good for you. I’m really proud of you for making it this far. Now comes the pre-budgeting tasks – you’ve got to figure out how to track all of your spending. All of it.
If you pay with cash, keep receipts, and write down each expenditure on a spending tracker printable. I know there are apps for this, although I’ve not used one. I do know “Personal Capital” will track spending for you. I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure about its usefulness. We use YNAB for all of our budgeting – which also includes tracking our spending. YNAB is not free but it connects to all of your bank accounts and automatically imports transactions for you – all you have to do is categorize them. Also, there’s “Every Dollar” from Dave Ramsey, which has a free version.
At this point, don’t worry so much about setting up a budget, you’re just trying to track every single penny that you spend. Everything. If you’re not putting in those $1.31 transactions than the next step will be harder to get right. Trust me. Be completely honest with yourself on what you’re spending. Don’t judge each other or yourself. Just write it down and move on.
Track your spending for a month.
Step 4: CREATE A BUDGET.
Alright, so now you’ve got your month’s worth of expenses tracked. Get that data out and have it in front of you. Go through each of the expenses and begin putting them into Categories. Categories that you’ll likely later use as budget categories. Some examples may include:
- Housing – under this we split expenses into Mortgage, Water Bill, Trash Bill, Phone Bill, etc. But, you could lump all of those expenses into one category called Housing and leave it at that.
- Transportation – gas, car insurance, maintenance, etc.
- Personal – Fun Money, Clothing, Kids’ Activities, etc
I think you get the idea. This is pretty personal. Your categories are going to be based on all those expenses you just tracked. They likely won’t fit into my categories. We live different lives and that’s cool. No worries. If an expense is strange and you don’t know where to categorize it, just make its own category. It’s your budget friend, you can do whatever you want! Cool, right?
Step 5: ALIGN YOUR BUDGET WITH YOUR VALUES.
You’ve done the hard work of defining your values and deciding what is worth spending your precious resource of time on and what isn’t. Why not use that hard work to begin aligning your budget with your Values?!
You should have all your expenses tracked and categorized for the month – if you’re following along the step-by-step quick start process! Now, go through each category and figure out which expenses lie within that category. Go through each expense and decide if it lines up with those values you created. If it does, great. Move on to the next. If something does NOT align with your values or is more of a gray area, then comes some more work and discussion.
You’ll have to decide, as a family, if that purchase is worth it. For example, if one of your family values is Travel, with a definition of “we like to travel and experience the world together as a family,” than an expense of going to the mall for weekend entertainment likely is not the best use of your money. You’d be better off to save that money you would have spent at the mall and put it into a travel category for your next trip. Even a local camping trip – one that’s likely not all that expensive, but much more in line with your value of Travel.
Step 6: CELEBRATE!
Shew. That was a LOT of hard, deep, personal, sometimes conflict-filled work.
Congratulations. I am REALLY, really proud of you and you should be proud of yourself.
Please, don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re still feeling stuck or confused or just want to chat about all of your awesomeness. Because, that’s the truth friend, you ARE awesome.