We've all been there. It's the end of the month again, and we're frantically checking our bank account, trying to decide if we have enough money left to fill up the gas tank. We know we got paid this month and even made great money, but where did all our money go???
Where did all my money go???
Change the question to stop asking, “Where did all my money go?”
Asking, “Where did all my money go?” is why most people will NEVER break free of the cycle and will always live paycheck to paycheck.
If you want to break the cycle, you must change the question. The question you should be asking starts before you get your paycheck, not after all your money is gone.
The question you should ask is, “Where do I WANT my money to go?”
Once I started asking that question, I stopped asking, “Where did my money go?” because I knew where it was going before it disappeared!
Plan Where You Want Your Money to Go
So how do you make that transition?
Well, there's this dreaded “B” word.
For many people, that “evil” word has come to represent all the bad things in life that we don't want.
Ramen noodles for lunch. Peanut butter and jelly for supper. Clipping coupons for hours. Working long hard hours every day just to keep your head above water and depriving yourself of every pleasure in life to save a buck.
That word, of course, is Budget.
Budgeting should not be a bad word!
Budgeting should be a time of dreaming and determining how you can achieve your dreams.
For that reason, I like to change the name and call it my spending plan. At the beginning of each month, I intentionally sit down with YNAB and plan where I want my money to go.
Start dreaming on paper or in your favorite app about all the things you want to do.
- I want a trip to the beach – savings.
- I want out of debt – debt snowball payments.
- I want an African safari trip – savings.
- I want a nice house – living expenses.
- I want to help others – charity.
- I want to be financially independent when I'm older – retirement.
Write down your income as well. Once you've written down your income and expenses, now you've got some decisions to make. Maybe after all your dreams, you've discovered that your expenses are triple your income! No wonder you're asking where all your money went at the end of the month!!!
How can you make it work and keep your dreams alive?
Maybe you could cut back on eating out this month.
Do you really need that brand-new SUV to get to work? Or would a nice paid-off used car work?
Maybe your house, utilities, repairs, and insurance takes up half your salary. Wow, is it worth it when you have to sacrifice the other dreams you have on your bucket list? Maybe it is time to downsize.
How Can You Increase Your Income?
If you really can't justify cutting some of this, how can you go about getting more income?
Here's a good article with ideas for increasing your income: “150+ Ways to Make Extra Money This Year.”
All of these questions come out during the planning phase. The best news is you haven't spent anything yet! You can think these things through in advance and make a conscious decision about your true priorities.
Follow through with the plan, and the next time the end of the month rolls around, you won't be asking the question, “Where did my money go?”. You'll already know where your money went, right where you intended for it to go! Then it will be time to dream again for next month.
Don't Plan Too Far In Advance at First
One caution: don't go too far out with your planning at first; a month is enough. In the beginning, you will have many unexpected expenses pop up and have to rework things regularly. That's normal, don't get frustrated. No one learned to walk without falling down a few times. Go back to the drawing board and adjust based on the new information.
That's one reason I like YNAB, it focuses on budgeting only the money you already have vs money you might or might not have in the future. Eventually, you'll be able to work on some longer-term stuff like saving for Christmas, college, trips, and other dreams, but in the beginning, follow the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep it Simple Stupid!!!
To stop asking, “Where did my money go?” start saying, “My money is going right where I wanted it to go!”
When mommy asks where all your money went, do you want to scratch your head and shrug your shoulders? Or do you want to say, “My money is going exactly where I wanted it to go!”?
Planning where your money goes is only one of the core steps along the way to building wealth. If you want to find out about the rest of those steps, be sure to check out the article, “How to Achieve Financial Goals: How I Added Six Figures to My Net Worth in a Year While Raising Five Kids”
About the Author
Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.
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