Understand Your Finances
5 essential things you must do for a financial breakthrough
This article is part of Chase's 2018 #SavingIt movement, where we are encouraging people to save money to help them reach their goals.
As a Money Coach, I often help people who feel that they're not as far along financially as they should be.
Some are fretting over their career standing or the size of their paychecks. Others are concerned that they could or should be doing more, such as saving more money, investing more aggressively, or better planning for their own or their family's future.
I know from first-hand experience what those feelings are like.
Fortunately, I've also learned that it's always possible to take your finances to the next level. You just need to know the right steps to take.
Here are five essential things you must do to achieve a financial breakthrough.
1. Write it down
Whether it's your current monthly spending or long-term financial goals, writing things down makes them more concrete, brings clarity to your financial picture, and can catapult you into action.
For example, many years ago, I was making good money, but I was also consistently spending more than I earned—on travel, eating out, gadgets, stuff for the kids, you name it. As a result of excessive spending, I'd racked up a whopping $100,000 in credit card bills!
In 2001, I finally resolved to do something about my debt. I started by writing down exactly what I owed.
Seeing my bills itemized stopped me from just guessing how much total debt I had. It was also the crucial first step in making a plan to pay off all those bills. Three years later, I was completely debt free.
2. Take responsibility for your situation
When I coach clients, I often hear them blaming others for their fiscal standing. Perhaps a partner "sabotaged" their finances, or a boss "wrongly fired" them.
We all know that bad things can happen to good people. But even though I empathize – having been through a downsizing and a previous divorce as well – I ask them: What did you do – or fail to do – that contributed to your current financial standing?
At the end of the day, as adults, each one of us is personally responsible for our own finances. So don't let others have so much power that you get stuck and are unable to fix whatever ails you. Besides, no one is ever going to care more about your money than you do.
3. Know your worth and then ask for it
For many of us, the financial breakthrough we want or need is just waiting for us to ask for it. It's called a raise.
It may be on a job where you're currently being underpaid, or with clients if you're an entrepreneur or you have a side-hustle.
Whatever the case, if your paycheck doesn't reflect your skill set and your abilities, it's time to demonstrate your worth and then speak up to request the earnings you deserve.
When I was in corporate America, I routinely asked my bosses for more money based on my on-the-job performance. Those requests were met with pay raises, bonuses, stock options and more.
4. Take a calculated risk
When I wrote my very first money-management book, Investing Success, I turned down a pretty nice book deal from a major publisher.
Why? I had decided to self-publish and start my own company.
That crucial decision has paid off enormously—financially, professionally and personally.
For starters, I reaped 100 percent of the economic benefits of writing and selling my book, without turning over any profits to a publisher.
That first book also laid the groundwork for me to self-publish my following book, Zero Debt, which became a bestseller and put me on a path toward entrepreneurship.
Not to mention that self-publishing led to me meeting my wonderful husband, Earl, a book publishing consultant!
5. Get the right squad
Besides Earl, I'm blessed to have my mom, sisters and two close girlfriends I know that I can call upon for literally anything.
As a woman, it's definitely important to have your girl squad. But don't forget to cultivate your "financial success squad" too.
Your financial success squad is comprised of two groups of people: those who have already achieved what you want to achieve, such as mentors and colleagues who are at your professional level and above; and individuals with the professional expertise to help you reach your financial goals.
Get yourself a trusted banker, financial advisor or CPA (preferably all three!) and watch what a difference it makes in your financial life.
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a Chase News contributor who focuses on personal finance and whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets.