I’m going to be nosy for a second and ask you a personal question. Where are you standing right now?
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about your feet, I’m talking about your money! And I promise I’m prying for good reasons.
You see, I want you to reach your goals and live a financially fit life. In order to do that, though, It’s important to fully understand where you’re starting.
Try putting a destination into Google Maps without also including your starting point. Something tells me that wouldn’t be very effective! So, go ahead and pause and think about your financial situation right now.
What conclusions about your money did you come to? For many of my clients, when I ask about their financial standings, they’ll instantly start talking about their income and/or their debt situation. These are certainly important factors regarding your money but they only paint a portion of the full picture.
In order to get a more thorough, accurate look at your finances, here is an exercise you can do that should only take a short amount of time. In most cases, this can be done in just around five minutes. I like to call this exercise “The 5 Minute Financial Snapshot”.
Step One: Consider Your Income
While your income won’t tell the full story, it is certainly a big piece of the puzzle so take a minute to think about all of your streams of income.
This can be money you make from your job, a side hustle, bonuses, government programs and even that yearly $100 bill you get from your loving grandpa every year for your birthday. Tally it all up and slap that number on a piece of paper.
Step Two: Gather all of Your Bills
When I say “bills” I’m talking about anything you pay for by a certain due date in return for an item or service. This includes your rent/mortgage, utilities, cell service, daycare, streaming services, insurance, etc. Add up this total, and you’ll begin to see a portion of the direction in which your money is going.
Step Three: Add up your Day-to-Day Spending
Day-to-day spending is different from bills in that you aren’t obligated to purchase these things in order to keep them accessible to you.
For instance, a grocery store isn’t going to ban you from shopping with them because you didn’t buy groceries last week. And they aren’t going to raise the prices for you because of it, either.
Instead, day-to-day spending includes those expenditures you make throughout the month to simply live your life. This category typically includes groceries, gas, restaurants, clothing, and spending for yourself, your kids, and/or your pets.
It might help to look at your bank statements or budgeting software (if applicable) to get a general idea of your spending habits over the last few months. Now, jot this total down.
Step Four: Take a Look at Your Debt.
Next, it’s time to gather the total balance of all of your debts as well as their monthly payments. This may have been something you tallied up when you gathered your bills numbers but, in case you didn’t, now’s your chance.
We’re talking about car loans, student loans, your mortgage, credit card balances, personal loans, and any other debts you may be carrying.
Depending on your relationship with money, this step might make your stomach churn a little bit. But I believe in you. You can do this!
There is no shame in how you’ve handled money in the past and, remember, the only way to change your habits and reach your goals is to know what your habits were to begin with.
Step Five: What Do You Have In Savings?
The last step is to gather all of your savings numbers. This includes money in a personal savings account, your emergency fund, retirement, college savings, or any other money you have that you set aside for future expenses.
And that’s it! You did it! You have completed your Financial Snapshot and have a realistic picture of where you stand financially today. Now, what do you do with this information you have gathered?
I’d like to encourage you to first consider whether or not your spending aligns well with your income. If you subtract your total expenses (bills, debts and spending) from your income do you end up with a positive number, a negative number, or a zero?
What about your savings? Do the numbers you tallied up in that category provide a picture of a financially secure future?
Also, keep in mind that financial fitness isn’t just about the numbers. It also has a lot to do with your individual priorities, values and goals.
Numbers are important – yes. But it’s also valuable to look at this holistically, considering more than just the calculations, but also the behavior and mindset behind them.
While this is an exercise that can be done quickly and provide valuable insight to your financial situation, it can also be daunting and overwhelming for some.
Oftentimes, bringing an expert along for the ride might be that extra boost you need. We’ll make sure your calculations are accurate and will help guide you towards your goals with a step-by-step, personalized approach. Book a free call with one of our coaches today and you’ll be sure to get results.
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