I know that clearing money blocks is generally about the law of attraction. However, I feel like magic happens when you combine mindset change with positive action. I think my story demonstrates this rather well so let me tell you whilst I go through the steps.
I was someone who went through life barely thinking about money, except to panic. It wasn’t until I read Paulette Perhach’s “Story of a Fuck Off Fund” on 22nd January 2016 that I had the realisation that I was in a really dreadful place with money and really began to look at my money blocks.
My heart sunk as I realised I would be like the first story, not the second. This spurred me into action.
I began to educate myself. I began to think about what I actually wanted from my life and my money and not just to meander randomly each month according to the whims and what I thought I could afford.
In the eternal words of Sister Mary Clarence, I realised
“If you wanna be some body,
If you wanna go somewhere,
you better wake up and pay attention!”Sister Act 2
So I woke up, I paid attention and what did I discover? That I told myself so much hooey about money. I had huge money blocks.
The stories I told myself were along these lines:
- I am barely making ends meet
- I’d never be a high-income earner
- I can’t afford to pay extra on my debt
- Debt-free is a dream for other people.
- I will never be able to save enough for a deposit on a house so why even try
- I’m bad with money.
- Understanding finance is too difficult
I know, pity party for one! Much like in Paulette’s article, those stories utterly sucked. I wasn’t going to listen to them anymore. I wanted to tackle clearing my money blocks.
So in January of 2016, I began to turn the tide on my financial future and make some breakthroughs on my money blocks.
Steps to Clearing Money Blocks:
Step 1: Pay Attention
The first step in doing that was as simple as paying attention. Actually looking at the way I handled money and the things I would tell myself as I made these types of decisions.
I discovered some pretty crazy things about my habits.
I had a doozy where I would say no to buying clothes I really wanted as £30 was too much this month and I couldn’t afford it. Then I would spend more than that on food shopping or takeaway food I didn’t need only hours later without blinking.
Or I’d book a holiday, on a credit card, and making zero plans to save any money for that holiday, despite it being months away. Instead, I would just add the whole lot to a credit card I was only paying the minimum on.
I told myself that I could never get ahead with money, so why should I try.
I don’t judge myself though as I know I wasn’t alone and that lots of people have huge mental money blocks. Disfunction around money is almost normal at this point.
I began to think about what I actually wanted for my money and the goals I had. They were pretty simple goals:
- Pay off my Debt
- Save a Fuck off Fund
- Have savings for other things so any spend bigger than £50 wasn’t panic-inducing.
So I set up money pages in my trusty Bullet Journal for Monthly Bills, Saving and Debt Paydown.
The next step became obvious pretty quickly, as I had no idea how to go about changing my habits and lifestyle to actually do these things.
Step 2: Change your Mindset
What you think is what you get. When you only see scarcity, then that is all you seem to get. My work on awareness had made me begin to notice that I wasn’t actually as badly off as I had always felt. I still felt nervous about handling my money better though.
So I began to read up on money and habits. Most importantly I wanted to know how to dispel my money blocks and change the habits that had been hurting me.
Nothing is as scary as the unknown. If you are anything like me, the financial world was completely unknown and very very scary.
Knowledge is power. The more I learned, the more prepared I felt to do something with my money besides watching it disappear.
I still hadn’t dealt with my money blocks but I felt ready to at least start trying with money a little bit. Action creates confidence, so sometimes you have to actually do something to begin to feel better.
I found Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps to be hugely helpful. They provide such a ridiculously easy road map for getting on track with money.
The Baby Steps are based on psychology and helping you to feel like you are winning with money. Therefore some naysayers say that it isn’t the smartest way to pay down debt or handle money, but honey, if I were smart at this, I wouldn’t need steps, especially not baby ones.
I jumped on board with the steps and started really changing my thoughts around money.
By the end of January, I had my mini emergency fund and was gearing up to tackle my debt.
Step 3: See the Abundance
Once I focused my debt disappeared, fast. Gone in 10 months. I didn’t have a huge amount but I had been carrying around just shy of £10,000 of debt for over 10 years.
Once I took a look at what I was spending, really, it became easy to see that I had a lot more money to play with than I had thought. I began to see the abundance around me.
The problem was that I wasn’t being intentional about my spending. I wasted so much money and wasn’t even aware of it.
I’d loved the idea of the envelope system. This is where you separate money into envelopes based on intention (Rent, Groceries, Fun etc) but I had one big problem. I hardly ever use cash and have no intention of doing so.
So I had to think of some other way of making that system work. And it came down to Budgeting. I know, it’s not a nice word but stick with me.
I would say that one of the most momentous things I did that changed my whole life at this stage was that I created a budget. Not only did I create a budget but I actually found out how to stick to one for the first time in my entire life.
I know, I’m sorry, don’t groan! No one wants to hear that they should budget. Yet, let me explain how this tool affected such a huge change in me. I would go so far as to say it was Life Changing! In bold and everything.
I had to have a drastic mindset shift about budgeting. Commonly budgeting is almost a bad word. It is nasty and restrictive. Of course, no one wants to budget when that is how you look at it. You need to let go of all the associations you have with the word “Budget”
A budget is just a way to get intentional about your money. It helps you see where you are spending so that you can decide whether you want to continue to spend that way. Often you don’t necessarily need to change how much you are spending, just change what you are spending it on.
This quote sums it up especially well:
“A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.”John Waxwell
My mindset was changing. I had seen the light on this budget thing, but how on earth was I going to make it work!? I tried envelopes as previously mentioned. Then I turned to my bullet journal but tracking expenses on paper was too difficult and time consuming for me. I tried a few budgeting apps but I would always get hung up on a bug or missing feature.
Then along came my Budgeting knight in shining armour. You Need a Budget or YNAB for short. It works on zero-based budgeting and it just clicked. There are web and mobile versions of the app and in the US they even have direct import from your bank account. Also a US company but with the flexibility I needed. We were geeky soulmates and I was happy about it.
The software alone is fantastic but add to it the huge amount of education available on the website and you can’t go wrong. The is so much information for beginners that you can spend ages learning everything about the software. I admit have become a little bit obsessed with budgeting. A budgeting nerd, if you will.
The downside is that you do have to pay for a subscription for it. However YNAB claims on their website: “On average, new budgeters save $600 their first two months, and more than $6,000 their first year.”. I have to say that I would completely back this up even in GBP.
Once I got YNAB budgeting clicked for me. The headway I made on my money goals was enormous and relatively easy. I paid off £10,000 in debt in 10 months and 3 years later, I had saved up a deposit for a house and became a homeowner. Something which is much less stressful as I also have an emergency fund in place. These are three monumental things that I didn’t ever think I could achieve.
I cannot rave about this software enough and I firmly believe that everyone should try it. Especially you. If you want to give it a try; I would love it if you would use my referral link. You get a month free trial and if you sign up at the end of it, we both get a month free. Win/Win.
Step 4: Live your priorities
It’s all very well and good talking about budgets like I am the first person to discover them. The problem with budgets is though, that you have to take action with them.
No budget will remain the same all the way through the month. It will look different by the end of most months than you planned it to be, no matter how good your intentions.
Despite this, you still have to work at it. Just because you made a budget, doesn’t mean your work is done. If you want more money coming in, the easiest way to achieve this is to pay attention to the money going out and change your spending. It will feel like a raise.
Once you start making progress on that, if you want more abundance in your life, the path to it will be so much clearer.
You have to get out of your own way though. Stop wishing for things that you won’t take action to make happen.
It’s like when you want to lose weight, but you keep eating all the time and make no effort to change. You know there is no way you will lose weight without some changes. Yet you spend many months telling yourself one thing and doing another.
Sometimes you need to be in the right place mentally for those changes to happen, other times you need to give yourself a good talking to and remind yourself of why you keep aiming for that goal. It all comes down to whether you are making excuses and hiding behind mental blocks. A lot of time you will be, I know I was. It’s ok, but if you want things to change, at some point you are going to have to make it happen. No one else will do it for you.
So set your budget according to your priorities and try your hardest to live by it. Sometimes things will click and you feel amazing, other times you realise that it wasn’t something you wanted that much, after all. Then you change course.
You get to decide though. Everyone’s non-negotiables are different. I like to go out and socialise. You might like to spend a vast amount of money on photography equipment and try your hardest to see precisely zero humans on a weekend. Whatever floats your boat is fine, but you need to decide where you are steering it.
Step 5: Be your Future Friend
Once you begin to see that actually you can win with money, it becomes easier to take the advice you have always heard and never listened to.
Pay yourself first.
I never really truly got what this means until I began this journey.
In case you were like me, it means to put money into savings/retirement before you do anything else with your money. If you leave it till the end of the month, you’ll end up putting nothing by.
I always found this a kind of abstract idea until budgeting made it click for me. Now my savings goals had names like Holiday and New Phone or Bathroom Renovation. These were things I could get excited about rather than just an ambiguous pot called savings. Also, retirement seemed like a possibility now I was putting some money aside already. I could totally do this. Maybe even earlier than I had ever dared to hope.
I also learned to put money aside for what YNAB calls “True Expenses” or things like Christmas or Car Maintenance. Things we all know are coming but always forget to plan for.
Peace. I have achieved the kind of peace with my money that I never thought achievable. To the extent that it is almost boring sometimes. Expenses rarely take me by surprise anymore. If they do, that’s why I have an emergency fund.
I am still a work in progress but so many of my money blocks have completely disappeared. Next stop for me is learning about investing so that can stop trying to scare me away with its perceived complexity.
I know that I can conquer the remaining money blocks. I have confidence in that fact. Even without those wins, I already know that I am now succeeding with my money. I’m not a high achiever or even a high earner (yet) but I don’t think that matters so much anymore. I have enough knowledge to make me feel amazingly accomplished and free from so many of the money worries that plague a lot of people.
I’m not finished and will continue to grow but I feel very blessed to have cleared most of my money blocks and to be making such fantastic headway.
If I can do it, anyone can. Do me proud, and try it for yourself!