The following blog post is part of The Road to Financial Wellness blog tour. The Road to Financial Wellness is a three-month, grassroots campaign promoting financial empowerment on a national level and encourages people to pursue their dream lifestyle. Find out more about local events near you.
When a person is empowered, they are given power. Power over choices. Power to set a direction. Power to chart a course of action. They also assume power over the outcomes of said choices, paths, and actions. Empowerment is a heavy responsibility, but the rewards are many.
Hilary Clinton is helping to empower women with her historic win of a national political party’s nomination.
Children should be empowered to speak their minds. I’m okay with it except when that mind is rude and/or bratty. Then I’m empowered to discipline and redirect.
Americans are empowered to create their destiny and grab hold of the American dream.
Empowerment is a wonderful thing. Often that power is bestowed at the behest of another. Hillary needed a few million votes to step into her position. Children either are or are not given latitude by parents. The constitution and, the mostly, good sense of our founding fathers fosters an environment where Americans have the opportunity to rise to their potential. These people, situations, or actions contribute to the power we enjoy. Financial empowerment is a gift that we can give ourselves. Admit it or not, the lack of power over our finances is often power we give away – willingly.
I know – because I lacked power in this area for many years.
We give away our financial power by failing to take financial literacy as serious as the latest reality TV craze. We squander the power by letting advertisers convince us to buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have. We take the power for granted by not setting our children up for success with sound fiscal habits. We mute our power when a 700+ FICO score makes us proud while servicing hundreds of thousands of dollars in consumer debt each month.
I gave away my power. Willingly.
How I Took Back My Power
- Break up with a debt. We had a debt problem. It wasn’t a physical one. Not like a pain in my neck. I can tell the doctor where it hurts and receive a diagnosis. To the naked eye, we were the quintessential DINKs (dual income, no kids) with a cozy condo in a swanky part of town. Drove new every two (we weren’t quite that bad – but close). Vacationed when we wanted. We had a charmed life. Still do. But our crackpot financial analysis consisted of one question, “Can we afford the payments?” Our life was heavily financed and trying to move in a new direction (i.e. quit my job to open a business) was challenging because we needed the two incomes to make the debt payments work. Debt for consumer items (cars, clothes, vacations, etc) had to come off the table.
- Control your spending. Moving to one income forced us to do more with less. For the first time, we were budgeting and saying no to nonessential items and activities. Planning ahead and paying cash became the new normal. By controlling spending, we could Give Ourselves a Raise without an extra job. I made changes to spending where I could and gave my husband space to make his in his own way.
- Snowball your debt. The debt snowball was instrumental in helping us chip, chip away at $107,000 in consumer debt. The progress was slow at first, but with each win the momentum grew. As our income grew, we made more progress. In the process, we’ve learned to be content with what we have and plan for what we don’t.
- Educate yourself. You don’t know what you don’t know. I read everything about personal finances I could find. Some of it worked. Some not so much. Budgeting may not be a natural tendency, but it can be a learned skill. Understanding how credit card interest rates work against you can motivate you to step off the credit treadmill. Take a class, attend a seminar, read a book, or watch a program dealing with personal finances to get the ball rolling. The Phroogal Road Tour may be hosting local personal finance events near you.
- Develop your team. Accountability is the teamwork that makes the debt free dream work. Surround yourself with a like minded support system. Give someone permission to pull your cord if your actions don’t line up with expressed goals. My husband and I were able to keep each other on track. Be honest about your strengths and struggles and help one another stay focused on the goal. Personal finances doesn’t have to remain a secret. In this podcast, talks about how her accountability partner helped her pay off $50,000 in debt and now she’s spending 365 days traveling around the world.
Reclaim your financial empowerment. One step at a time. We give it away willingly (in most cases). The good news is the trend can be reversed. Why not start now?
What can give yourself the gift of financial empowerment?