When an individual or a company is in the black, it means they’re doing well financially. They don’t have too much debt, and they’re making progress towards their goals. Being in the red is essentially the opposite. It means they’re not profitable and showing a loss.
Right now, most Americans are in the red. Most us are living paycheck-to-paycheck, burdened by credit card debt, and could not come up with $1,000 cash in case of an emergency. Of all the things to worry about, this has got to be moved to the top of the list.
When you’re in the red, you’re at risk. The smallest financial hiccup can lead to disaster, and you’re not improving or making progress towards your financial goals. At best, you’re treading water. At worst, you’re sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss.
There’s a wonderful Latin term, tabula rasa. Its translation is “clean state.”
What would you give to have a clean slate? To start from scratch with a fresh page? Would you like to rip your current sheet off the pad, ball it up, and throw it in the trash?
While I’m confident there are many aspects of your life you’d like to hang onto, we’ve all got some areas where we could benefit from a fresh start. With our finances, this is certainly true. Whether it’s being stuck in credit card debt, being behind on savings goals, or trying to dig out of an investment loss, we’ve all got skeletons we’d like to get rid off.
And we don’t have time to waste.
My goal is to help you find your version of tabula rasa. To get you in the black. As a financial advisor, I’ve been helping people do this for over 20 years. I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The starting point
- Find finding financial security
- Getting out of credit card debt
- Reevaluating everything
- Your comeback
Let’s get started.
The starting point
What landed you here? How did you end up in the red? Odds are, it didn’t happen all at once. You’re in the financial situation you’re in because of habits and behaviors you’ve formed over years.
The starting point to getting in the black is to make the commitment to do it. You committed to getting here by doing what you’ve done, and you’ll need to commit to changing. It will require making tough decisions, and having the courage and will to stick to it.
If you were hoping or expecting some kind of hack or secret, you’re in the wrong place. Financial success is available to you, but it demands sacrifice. You’ll need to become ruthless on your journey to financial security and prosperity. And you can do it.
Finding financial security
I want you to have everything you want. If you want to get rich, I’m here for you. But before we think about doing that, we need to find financial security.
We find financial security through a process. The first step is getting $1,000 saved in a bank account that is separate from your every day checking account. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to determine how much money should be in your emergency fund.
My recommendation is to set your goal to save six months’ worth of expenses. Doing so will give you financial security, and it will give you peace of mind. And that’s an invaluable thing. Now, it won’t be easy to save up that much money. But it will be worth it.
To accomplish this, you’ll need to monitor your cash flow and keep a close eye on your household budget. You’ll need to make cuts to your spending in order to free up money to put towards this goal. Once you’ve figured out how much you can dedicate to this goal every month, you’ll know how long it will take you to get there.
I know this isn’t sexy. Financial security isn’t supposed to be. Commit to doing it and get started.
Getting out of credit card debt
Credit card debt is the worst.
Not only does it prevent us from pursuing our financial goals and priorities, it prevents us from going after other things we want to do. As if that weren’t bad enough, the average interest rate on credit card debt is over 20%.
But you already know debt sucks. Let’s create a plan for getting out.
You can use a blank piece of paper, open a doc on your computer, or whatever you’re comfortable with. The first step is writing all your debts, interest rates, minimum monthly payments, and companies.
Next, go back to your cash flow and budget; figure out where the money will come from to pay the balances off. Like saving your emergency fund, you’ll know how much money you’ll be able to put towards this goal, and how long it will take to accomplish.
To help you get clear on this, you can access our Get Out of Debt course for free.
Yes, everything. If you’re serious about getting out of the red and into the black, you’re going to have to take a hard look at what you’re spending money on. Currently, you’re overspending and you need to figure out where.
There are three things that commonly blow up our budgets; our homes, cars, and eating out. When we overspend in these areas, it limits our ability to work towards our most important financial goals. This is where the need for ruthlessness comes in.
Are you willing to look at those three areas, as well as any other areas where you’re overspending? To overcome a problem, we must first identify and name it. Once we’ve done that, we can put together a plan for solving it.
Everybody likes a comeback. Rocky movies are some of my favorites.
They all share a similar story arc; the hero is riding high, grows complacent, gets taken down a few notches, regroups and refocuses, and recommits to success.
What does your comeback story look like? For many of us, we experience success and our lifestyles slowly become more and more expensive. Before we know it, we’re in over our heads and we’ve got a massive monthly nut. A monthly nut ends up crushing us and exhausting our finances. What will it take to get out from underneath it?
You’ll need to take a step back.
This can be a tough pill to swallow. Odds are, you like many of the things you’re spending money on…or maybe you don’t.
The next step is to evaluate everything you’re spending money on. Is it bringing you joy and enriching your life?
When you’ve completed that process, you’re going to need to take some steps backwards. You’re probably going to need to cut out or downsize some of your expenses. But I don’t want you to view these changes as permanent. Rather, think of it as taking one step back in order to take many steps forward. Once you’re in the black, you can always add things back in.
Finally, embrace incremental change. You’re going to get healthy the same way you got sick; a little at a time.
Is the idea of having a clean slate worth it? Are you willing to commit to doing what it will take?
Imagine a time in the not so different future. You’re debt free and saving money every month. You’ve got financial security and peace of mind. How good does that feel?
It’s available to you and closer than you think. You’re someone who’s capable of being financially successful. Commit and get to work.
If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, check out our DIY Financial Plan course.
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