5 Tips to Get Your Finances Into Shape

Treat your finances like workout, and get them in shape

So, my fellow millennials, how are we feeling about our finances collectively? Between student loans, a job market that may or may not be recovering depending on which headline you read, and the specter of credit card debt, managing finance is rarely a fun endeavor. Building a budget, maintaining a budget, and taking the necessary action steps to develop a sustainable financial lifestyle means some work has to be done on your end. Fortunately, we have more tools, apps, and options available to us than anybody else has ever had before. Getting the right headset in place regarding your financial health and well-being is something we can start anytime — so why not start now?

I mean, really, if you have time to take a few snaps and live-stream your travels and vacations, you probably have some time to think about your finances. After all, the healthier your personal finances are, the more opportunities you have to do the things you want. As a millennial myself, CPA, personal finance expert, and member of the AICPA National Commission on Financial Literacy, my goal is to help fellow millennials build this mindset — so if you’re still interested, let’s get to work. This list is, obviously, not the only advice you will see out there, but the ideas and concepts below can be used by anybody interested in getting in better financial shape. And who doesn’t want to be in better shape?

1) Make a plan — I cannot stress this first point enough, and there is good reason for it! If you want to get something done, the most important step you can take is to make a plan! This plan can be hand-written (even in marker if you want), in Excel, a flowchart, or built into your banking app, but the important part is to actually make the plan.

2) Get a budget buddy — Any plan, whether it is training for a marathon, going back to get a certificate after graduation, studying for the CPA exam, or improving your personal finances, is also reinforced when you have partner. Your budget buddy is there to reinforce your plan, offer moral support, and will be there to celebrate with you when you hit milestones!

3) Set multiple goals — Just like you wouldn’t set your first cardio goal as running the NYC marathon, your personal finances will not transform overnight! Set up short, medium, and longer term goals, and make sure your plans reflect these different stages. Saving for a nice vacation, a down payment on a condo, and for retirement, for example, are three different goals that might fit in these categories.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

4) Make it a workout — Millennials are the most connected, tech-savvy, and educated generation in the history of well, ever. We track, compare, and rank everything we do, and the spread of fitness tracking apps (I personally use Fitbit) is a great example of this. Think of your finances like a workout routine — work on it every day, celebrate the little milestones along the way, and be consistent about it. Just like the progress you make while working out can surprise you, your finances can and will get better with time.

5) Don’t forget to celebrate — I get it, we have enough work to do and things to stress about without adding yet another thing (our financial health) to stress over. That is why I always recommend celebrating your little victories and successes along the way. Saving money simply for the sake of saving money isn’t the point — your money should be a tool for you to live the life you want — so enjoy it!

We, as millennials, have a tremendous opportunity as we all start to move into the workforce, move up in the workforce, and start becoming decision makers in our own right. In order to be effective, however, we do have to make sure that we exercise and are in good shape, both physically and financially. You can take these concepts and apply them to your personal and professional life, which is a double win that makes you look that must better. The tools are out there (just look in the app store for Apple or Android), but it boils down to the mindset, and I think we are ready. So let’s make it happen!