How Not to Blow Up Your Financial Future

Welcome to Personal Finance 101! Disclaimer: I am neither wealthy nor a financial professional- read at your own risk!

I’ve lovingly started this for my siblings. This is a Common Sense Course on my BASICS of surviving in today’s world financially.

First, **you can do this**… I’m glad you’re here! As with any other life skill, you’ll eventually get better by practicing good form, and learning from your mistakes (because everyone makes them). The good news is, these are things that anyone can do and grow from—and someday you’ll reach a moment where it’s comfortable.

For now, I get that there are many setbacks to finding a job, making a living, and getting ahead. We’ll talk about how to even the playing field, and you’ll find that these BASICS stand the test of time. If you’re struggling to figure out where to start, keep reading.

5 Steps to Not Blow Your Financial Future

  1. See the Big Picture.
  2. Do the Math.
  3. Set a Plan: Budget.
  4. Live Within Your Means: Avoid / Eliminate Debt
  5. Save: Earn More and Spend Less.

See the Big Picture

Your Big Picture requires understanding the main objective- your why. What is most important to you? What are your values? When you imagine your ideal financial situation, what does it look like? Use the answers to form your Big Picture, and let it guide you in all the rest of your next steps. Sometimes we inadvertently do the things that are taking us further from rather than closer to our goals. Use your Big Picture to check if your decisions are leading you to what you truly desire.

Set a Goal

If you want to put your Big Picture into action, figuring out HOW is the first step to making it happen.

Set one or two financial big goals for the year, and break it up into doable steps.

Our goals have changed over the years, here are some we have set before:

  • Saving up for an emergency savings, down payment, deductible, procedure, or vacation
  • Paying off debt or chipping away at it
  • Finding a new job
  • Investing in furthering education, skills, or a business idea
  • Contributing to investments or retirement savings

Some years, writing down our goals led to us being intentional about finding extra work or holding on to any money that came in instead of spending it. I’m happy to say that this method has always worked for us and “keeping our eyes on the prize” all year!

Look Inward

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Theodore Roosevelt

One of the biggest challenges I’ve noticed with forming your Big Picture is getting distracted by others—friends, family, colleagues, influencers, billionaires… Sometimes we put enormous pressure on ourselves to accomplish or acquire things because we see others with them. It’s okay! We can’t know how others really are doing financially when they try to sell us on it, and it shouldn’t matter. Please don’t let what others are up to dictate your values or your worth, because it can negatively impact your financial decisions. It’s unsustainable to draw motivation from unrealistic goals, or to seek validation in ways that will never satisfy (anywhere other than looking within). Instead, appreciating what you have and focusing on what you aspire to be can help you grow. Failures and successes are all part of the Big Picture—they should be yours, and yours alone. Wherever you are in your life journey, embrace it.

Kat Example

When it comes to the Big Picture, Family is my everything. All I want to do is be with them, and share in their growing up.

For my financial situation, this translates to having enough money to support a family, and I imagine:

  • Spending more time with my family than at a workplace, and never feeling guilty about being a Mom first.
  • The security of not living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Access to quality healthcare, nutrition, education, and services when we need them.
  • A moderate home for us to live in, cozy yet beautiful which we can comfortably maintain.
  • A mortgage we can easily pay, even if I become the main provider. I’d prefer that it’s paid off before I’m too old to care for it.
  • Having funds for when something breaks, so that it’s not cause for panic or a crisis.
  • Being protected from disaster and disability.
  • Going places and having adventures near and far as a couple and a family.
  • Pursuing our passions/talents, and nurturing togetherness—sports, music, camps, pets, a garden.
  • Special traditions. Family gatherings at dinner, game night, holidays, celebrations, and kids coming “home” because we still have a good time.
  • Enjoying small pleasures because money is set aside for it.
  • Living a long, full, and happy life—but even if it’s not long, prepared for death so our affairs are in order.

I want you to know that I don’t have everything figured out, but I feel confident and hopeful about the future. I’ve had my share of financial lessons, and I don’t mind talking with you about them.

The struggle is real and you are not alone in it. Here’s some situations we might be able to talk about… Buying a car for way too much. Not having a car when I really wanted a job. Filing taxes. Acquiring and paying off long term debt. Paying for school. Graduating or securing a job in a recession. Dealing with all the insurances, coverage, benefits—and lack thereof. Balancing as a working parent. Starting a small business. Seasonal work or a side hustle. Assistance programs. Cutting through scams/ads/schemes, analyzing business opportunities, and shutting down being sold to. House hunting. Contributing to retirement. There is hope that you can have all that you work towards.

Check out the next step here.

One Comment

  • Willie Delarosa

    Thank you Kathy. This is such a great booster and motivation for everyone and not just your siblings. Thank you for sharing and you and Jeremy certainly proved it can be done. I’m so proud of you and your wonderful family. I know you and Jeremy went through some challenges financially and you’re stood the rest of time. Your siblings will definitely benefit immensely from your experience and wisdom. Love you. Dad

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