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Step #1: Decide It’s Time for the Truth

I wrote this post earlier today and ironically ended up having a conversation at dinner tonight with a friend who wants me to help her with her finances. Without even meaning to, this is the first step I walked her through on her road to getting her finances together. I think it really is the first step for everyone.

I have friends who have cavities in their teeth. They know about it because they can see and feel them. And yet they refuse to go to the dentist. Why? It’s not because of the money (most of them have great dental coverage). It’s not because of the pain (although I know one or two claim that as their reason). It’s because some things are easier to ignore than face. Once the dentist tells them those cavities really exist, it makes them harder to ignore.

People treat their finances the same way. Maybe at the end of the month you notice that you had to use some of your savings to pay your bills, but once you read your statement you forget about it. Maybe when you get your quarterly update from your 401k you wish there was more money in it, but then you just file it away. Like the main character in Confessions of a Shopaholic [1] you choose to remain ignorant rather than face the truth about your finances.

There are consequences for reviewing your finances. In some cases, it might mean sitting down with a spouse and admitting things have gotten out of hand [2]. It could mean acknowledging that you have accumulated debt and have nothing to show for it. It might even cause you to face that if you lost your job tomorrow, you would have no way to survive.

When it comes to your finances, ignorance is not bliss. Whatever your circumstances I promise that you will be amazed at the big difference the little things can make.

This post is going to be the first of a five part series outlining some small steps you can take to help evaluate and improve your financial situation. These are not unique ideas, they come from years of me scouring the internet and combining that information with what I did personally to set myself on the right financial track. I believe this first one is the most important.

Step #1: Before you start pulling out bank statements and analyzing information you need to make sure you are prepared for what you may discover. You need to be prepared to handle the truth [3]. And if you share your finances with someone else, you need to make sure they are too. You need to be ready to explore the good, the bad and the ugly [4]. Sit down with your partner and promise to be honest with each other about what is going on. If you are like me and have sole responsibility for the finances in your household, make a vow to yourself to keep an open mind.

Once you have done that, you can begin to make changes that will have a huge effect on your future!