Today I want to talk about money. Not a conversation we always like to have, yet something we ALL are affected by. Our lives revolve around money: making it, spending it and saving it. We need money to live our day to day lives. From buying the food we eat, to affording the home we live in with electricity/water/heat to make it comfortable, to owning and driving our cars, to a few hundred other things in between. Money is a essential to our livelihood and yet we don’t like to talk about it often. But it’s a conversation we have to have and continue to have if we want to make wise financial choices in our lives and ultimately be #LifeReady.
I had a really comfortable upbringing as a child. My parents were both government workers and made a really good living. We lived in a nice neighbourhood, had everything we needed and more and travelled quite often. We were considered upper middle class.
Even though my parents did well financially, it was never something we were taught to take for granted. My parents were always trying to instil in us the value of money and how to save. When I started working, I always had to save HALF of each pay check. You read that right, HALF. That’s A LOT for a teenager making a measly $6.15 an hour, working a part-time job. But it taught me how to save.
Fast forward a number of years to when I just graduated from college (debt-free) and was getting married. The time had come for my new husband and I to manage our own finances and I’ll be honest, I was really scared. For so many years my Dad had really been involved with all my money matters and now being on my own (with my husband) having to save and make all kinds of financial decisions concerned me.
My husband and I didn’t start off making a ton of money in the first few years of our marriage. I mean, we did have a decent salary where we got by with all the necessities and had a little left over to enjoy a few treats here and there, but we weren’t rolling in money. My husband had a student loan that we were working to pay off but besides that, we didn’t have any other debt to worry about.
The problem is, we weren’t really saving anything. All the principles my Dad had once taught me, I wasn’t exercising in my new life because I still wanted nice things and to live like that upper middle class, which we most definitely weren’t a part of as a newlywed couple.
One of the goals we knew we had before we wanted children was to travel. But when we would talk about it, I would get so stressed out because I knew what our savings looked like…and it wasn’t good. So how on earth did we think we could ACTUALLY travel?!
Then in 2007 came along an amazing opportunity to go an eight day Caribbean cruise with some of our friends. We knew we desperately wanted to go but we just couldn’t afford it. So one night, we sat down and took a really hard and honest look at our spending habits. I printed off the previous two months of statements and we highlighted everything that was “extra” spending.
We were SHOCKED to realize that in just TWO months, we had spent OVER $1,200 on eating out! Can you imagine?! I’m almost embarrassed to write that (insert monkey covering his face emoji!) We couldn’t believe that we had spent that much on such a ridiculous (and somewhat) unhealthy habit. And there was the money for our cruise, wasted on dining out.
So we came up with a plan to save all of that money, going forward, to be able to afford that cruise. We sacrificed going out (which we really did enjoy and still do) and set out sight on our goal. The plan was set, the goal was clear and the over-spending pretty much stopped.
And guess what? We accomplished it! We were able to save enough money in a short timeframe and enjoy that amazing eight day Eastern Caribbean cruise with friends! An experience I will never forget!
A couple of years later, we set out sights onto a new HUGE goal: buying a HOME! This seemed like an impossible task. How on earth could we save over $10,000 for a down payment! That number seemed astronomical to us, at the time.
But we decided that it was a goal of ours to own a home before we started having kids, so we made a plan. I started a side business in direct sales and the goal was short-term and very focused: run this business for ONE year, save EVERY dollar earned and buy a HOUSE by the end of that year.
I’m a very goal oriented person and so when I see a plan set out in front of me with a goal at the end, I get laser like focus and run HARD towards that goal. We initially thought it would be attainable to save $5,000. But within the first few months, we had already reached that. So the next goal was then $8,000 but we quickly surpassed that as well. Then $10,000 and then $12,000 and by the end of that year, we had saved close to $15,000 for a down payment and bought our first home!
It truly is REMARKABLE what you can achieve when you plan, set a goal and chase it! Like I said, we weren’t earning large salaries and our savings was virtually non-existent when we set these goals into place. But the point is, we planned and we accomplished.
It’s SO important that you are able to figure out what it is that you (and partner, if applicable), value in your lives and what you want to get out of it. Once you have that figured out, set some goals, whether it is to take a trip or to buy a house or to be debt-free by a certain age. Then make a plan of how you will achieve that goal. Take a hard and honest look at your finances and see where you can cut back. Maybe it’s less eating out, like it was for us, or maybe it’s cutting the cable or perhaps not buying new clothing/decor/toys for a season. There are always those “extras” that we CAN cut out of our lives in order to help us reach our goals and be #LifeReady.
Manulife wants to help you be #LifeReady and so they have created this online quiz to help you see where you fall in your financial readiness. Just a few questions and then at the end, it will give you a score with areas that you are doing great in as well as areas you need to focus on more. Included are some helpful tips on how to get yourself #LifeReady. Click picture below to take the quiz!
So my question to you is simple: what goal are you working towards with your finances? Do you have a plan in place to help you achieve those goals? What can you cut back on today to ultimately help you be #LifeReady with an amazing financial future?!
Love & Blessings,
Note: This post is sponsored by 360ACCESS on behalf of Manulife. The opinions are my own.