I’ve been working on bettering my finances for three years now, and frankly, with all the resources available in the personal finance community, it’s sooo easy to get lost. I go through a phase of questioning myself whether I’m on the right track still; whether I’m doing things correctly; whether I should do more (or less).
This is why I’m wring this post, before the 2018 goals updates reporting season begins, to remind myself that
I we have our own reasons why me made the decision to improve our personal finances. That everything we’re doing and documenting in this blog started with a why – our why and not somebody else’s.
WHY HAVE A WHY?
Because having a why helps us write our goals better, as well as the actions we need to take to achieve them. Our why becomes our motivation, our destination. It’s easier to pave our path when we know why we have to do it.
Not having a why early on stopped me from harnessing the full potential of saving. Before I discovered the world of personal finance, I saved a % of my pay because I liked to save. I liked having money in my savings account. I wasn’t saving for anything, I was just saving. I was content with what I could save and didn’t strive to do better, because, what’s the point?
The why, apparently, is the point.
Why are you being so thrifty? Because I want to save more money. Why are you saving more money? Because I want to have financial security.
WHAT IS OUR WHY?
I want to worry less about money. That was and still is my ‘why’. My family’s previous financial situation has affected my financial position greatly, has given me anxiety and caused me to worry a lot about money. My worries included: not having enough money to cover expenses, my parents going into debt that I have to pay, not having money for myself, not having a source of income if I lose my job, among others. That financial situation has since changed even before I started this blog, but the mental and emotional scars are always the last to go. Honestly, even though in paper, the numbers in our spreadsheets and accounts say we are doing well and are on track, I still worry. Sometimes.
That is my own personal why, but as you know, my boyfriend has now taken an active participation in this whole personal finance thing (ha!). He, too, has his own personal why(s):
- hoard money (I’m serious about this, he likes saving money, he finds happiness in seeing our net worth increase MoM);
- have more to give (my boyfriend is the nicest person on earth).
And as a couple:
- to not be in so much debt (i.e. have the ability to pay mortgage off quick); and
- to have that option of reducing our working hours in the future.
DOES HAVING A WHY REALLY HELP?
It sure does. Having a why helped me write better goals. If initially my financial goal was to save money, after establishing my why, I was able to make my goals more specific: ‘save $xxx worth of emergency fund.’ Having an emergency fund is one of the first financial goals I wrote because it is one of those funds that help you worry less about money and helps you sleep better at night. I had more direction after I identified the core reason of why I wanted to work on my finances. Having more specific goals then allowed me to write a better action plan.
My why also serves as something I go back to when self-doubt starts to manifest. It serves as a reminder when I start trying to do a few things at the same time. ‘This blogger wrote this thing works, I should try it.’ ‘This one wrote we should be aiming for $xxx in x years.’ ‘I read that I should increase my income, I should definitely start a side hustle on top of my 40 hour work week and household chores and short courses I’m taking.’
When I start having conversations like this with myself, remembering my why guides me back to my starting point. My why changes that conversation to this:
That’s a great idea, but I’m doing this because I want to worry less about money, not because I want to retire in 5 years; I don’t think it applies to me and my situation.
Panic attack averted.
We have an amazing community and there is never a shortage of ideas and resources, but there are also no specific rules to follow. Not all of us are pursuing the same thing(s) and we all have different backgrounds and stories. We read (listen to) what we can, pick what we think is relevant to us and then use that to help us achieve our goals. Going back to my why reminds me that I don’t have to try everything. It’s okay to do things differently. It is called personal finance, not group finance, after all.
I’m here because, once upon a time, I asked myself why I wanted to this. Three years, on and off, after I’m still here because I remembered to ask myself the same question when I felt like pulling the plug on this blog and on personal finance. Now that my boyfriend is on board, doing the same exercise gave us a clear picture of what we want out of our finances, individually and as a couple. Talking about our whys enabled us to set our couple goals and what we need to do to make them happen.
What is your why? Is it the same from when you started or has it changed? How often do you ask yourself, ‘why’? Has it helped you regain motivation when you felt like giving up?
Image: unsplash-logoPana Vasquez