I don’t know about you, but I will be one happy lady once this election is OVER.
These two-year campaigns are too much. I’m an undecided voter, and by undecided I mean, I think everyone who actually wants the job is a fool so do I vote at all or just find a happy hour? (I feel like more gets accomplished at happy hour than in the Capital anyway.)
Regardless of who wins next month, you’ve undoubtedly heard (at great, exhaustible length) both his and her tax plans. Depending on which side you’re on, and what your financial situation is, this may be creating plenty of fear for you. Let’s talk about that.
They’re counting on your fear. I won’t get into it too much today (for fear of ending up in a conspiracy theory downward spiral), but when enough fear is created, it makes us all feel like we want to give our control over to someone who is “in charge” and promising they will take care of us.
That being said, it’s important to remember that YOU are the one in charge. Sure, you pay taxes (or you should be), but you are the one in control of your finances. When was the last time you took your financial statements to Washington to ask them how you should spend or save your own money?
Never. Because that’s ridiculous. It’s also ridiculous to think that whomever the president is determines whether or not you’re in a solid financial situation.
You may be thinking, “but the economy was blah, blah, blah during so-and-so’s term and he was a democrat/republican and he walked on water/ruined everything…”.
Unless you were robbed, literally NO ONE took your checkbook, debit card, credit card, wallet, PayPal account, Apple Pay, savings account, Roth IRA, or 401K and spent it for you.
None of our spending habits have a thing to do with who the President is.
Yes, arguably, the government does have some influence over what loan rates look like, and yes, they can raise and lower taxes. However, the big picture as it relates to our personal finances is up to us.
Here are five ways to set yourself up for financial success regardless of election results:
Have a plan for your money
Spending habits are ultimately what determines success or failure regarding our financial health. It’s important to know exactly where all of your money goes each month. One of the best ways to gain control over your money is to create a budget. This doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to be extensive or time-consuming. It just needs to be a plan you can work.
If you’re married, get on the same page with your spouse about where your money will go. Categorize your spending and don’t overspend in any of those areas. When you run out of money in that category for the month, you’re done spending in that area until next month. You may be surprised about how good it feels to develop this discipline around your spending habits.
Stop buying what you don’t need
Anytime I’m tempted to buy something I don’t truly need, I remind myself that “today’s impulse buy is tomorrow’s Goodwill donation”. Try appreciating something without needing to possess it. Getting rid of excess and not inviting more into your life is surprisingly freeing both physically and mentally.
Pay off debt
This can be so tough! And trust me, I know. If you’re wondering how I’m qualified to dole out financial advice, I’ve been rock bottom broke and crawled my way out of debt by sheer will and determination. It was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. I’m not going to pretend it’s a piece of cake and that you’re a giant failure if you can’t. I totally get it. I lived several years leaner than paycheck to paycheck and at times didn’t know what I would do to survive.
If you’re at a place right now where you’re swimming in debt and don’t know how you’ll pay next month’s rent or mortgage, I have been where you are, and I know the pain and overwhelm of that feeling. You can get some traction no matter what situation you’re in. Look at what you can cut out (cable, going out to lunch/dinner less, selling some large items you don’t need or can’t really afford), get a different car and lower your payments, find entertainment that is inexpensive or free. Negotiate to try to get lower payments on credit cards, student loans, or medical bills, and make minimum payments on all but the smallest one. Pay that small one off as soon as you can, and then move on to the next one. You’ll start to feel like you’re getting somewhere, and before you know it, you’ll be in a whole different place.
If you don’t feel like you can do this alone, there are some great programs out there for getting out of debt. The one I used was this one (I’m not an affiliate, I’m just a big fan because it really worked for me!).
Plan for the unexpected
Stuff will happen. Big stuff. After I got out of debt, I got cancer. Twice. Before I was forty. Cancer is expensive and so are things like having to replace your HVAC (we did), or your roof, or major appliances. Things break and wear out. People get sick. Accidents happen. Jobs are lost. Have money saved and set aside for major emergencies like these.
Plan for your future
Our kids are getting older, no matter how much we want these little people to stay little! And before we know it they’ll be moving into a dorm and we’ll be in the fetal position in the parking lot wishing we could re-attach them to our wombs wondering where all the time went (or is that just me?). College is coming. So is retirement and all that comes with getting older. Have a 401K and Roth IRA set up as soon as you can if you don’t already. Set aside money for college in some type of saving plan like an IRA or a 529 plan. Work with a financial advisor to figure out how much of your income you can put into these accounts. You future self will thank you.
No matter who takes office in January, (barring another depression or declaration of war) the order of your financial house is up to you. If up until now you haven’t felt in control of your money, it’s time to reclaim that control. Make your money work for you.
Your turn. I want to hear from you. Tell me what things you’ve done to get out of debt, or some of the things you do to maintain your financial health. Drop a message here on the blog, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.