Fi­nan­cial free­dom one step at a time

Take cal­cu­lated ac­tions, don’t rush your goals

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - MONEY - Gail vaz-Oxlade For Metro canada

Have you ever looked up a spi­ral stair­case? The stairs turn in and around on them­selves over and over. They’re very beau­ti­ful. And they demon­strate some­thing so many of us can learn from: one step at a time, even a very small step, can take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

You don’t have to a travel a big dis­tance to be mak­ing progress. Just take that first step. Then the next. Up you go.

Get­ting to debt-free for­ever, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a stash of cash to send your kids to univer­sity or col­lege, set­ting up an emer­gency fund can all feel like im­pos­si­ble feats. When you look at the de­mands on your time, how will you ever man­age to keep up with your spend­ing jour­nal? And if your buddy just will not keep his or her hand out of your pocket, how will you ever save the money you want for re­tire­ment?

It is so easy — so much eas­ier — to just keep on do­ing what you’ve al­ways been do­ing. How’s that workin’ for ya? Not so much?

Well, if you don’t change your be­hav­iour, you won’t change your out­come. So to­day’s the day you take your first step on the spi­ral stair­case to suc­cess.

Change one thing. Just one thing. If you’ve never been good at track­ing your spend­ing, make a la­bel and stick it to your wal­let. The la­bel says, “Ask for a re­ceipt.”

Col­lect a re­ceipt ev­ery­where you go. Even if you buy a cup of cof­fee, get a re­ceipt. And if you for­get, that’s just a small slip. It’s not an ex­cuse to dump the whole ex­er­cise!

Next, get a note­book. Ev­ery night en­ter all the re­ceipts for the day in the note­book. The point is to de­velop a new habit: to be­come aware of where ev­ery penny is go­ing. Only then will you find the money you need to ac­com­plish what­ever it is you want to do.

Once you get used to track­ing what you’re spend­ing, start us­ing your note­book as a spend­ing jour­nal, de­duct­ing what you’ve spent from your bank bal­ance to keep track of your money’s ins and outs in real time.

Got that down pat? Fig­ure out how to make a bud­get. Then start track­ing your ac­tual spend­ing against your bud­get to see how you’re us­ing your money. Set up an ex­cel spread­sheet and start hold­ing your­self ac­count­able.

Don’t rush it. Some­times peo­ple start new habits with huge en­thu­si­asm only to find their mo­ti­va­tion seeps away and they’re right back where they started. Well, maybe that was try­ing to take two or three steps at once. More dis­tance cov­ered, but a lot more ef­fort.

If that hasn’t worked for you, step back a stair or two. Try again. What­ever it is you’re try­ing to do, break it down into the small­est pos­si­ble steps. Take one step at a time. Feel se­cure on that step. Know where you are. Then take the next step.

Your progress may be a lit­tle slower, but you’ll feel safe in ev­ery step you take. And you’ll spi­ral your way to suc­cess.

What­ever it is you’re try­ing to do, break it down into the small­est pos­si­ble steps.

For more money ad­vice, visit Gail’s web­site at gail­va­zoxlade. com

Istock

When as­cend­ing the fi­nan­cial spi­ral stair­case, know where you are be­fore con­tin­u­ing your climb, Gail vaz-Oxlade writes.

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