Your finances are in shambles. You are desperate for change but you aren’t sure what to do or if making any changes are even worth it. After all, the mess you are in feels insurmountable.
Can you overcome poor financial decisions and change your financial life for the positive? Is it even possible? The answer is yes.
You can change your finances and you can completely overhaul your financial life in 10 years.
(Photo Credit: PeteLinforth)
Overhaul Your Financial Life in 10 Years
To some 10 years might seem like a long time to wait to see a change in their finances. But 10 years isn’t that long to see meaningful change. You will begin to see some change before 10 years, however, at the 10 year mark you should see monumental change to your finances.
But why 10 years? Why not two years or 40 years? The reason is simple. As human beings we overestimate what we can achieve in a day and we underestimate what we can achieve in the long term. Think about how many times you wake up in the morning and create a to-do list. You feel great seeing how much you are going to get accomplished today.
But before you know it, it is 6pm and you are wondering where the day went. On the flipside is the long term. Why do so few people save for retirement? It’s because it is so far in the future – in many cases 20 years or more. We put things off thinking we have time to make it right. In reality, retirement is too far away and we can’t rationally think that far into the future.
The answer is a shorter time period. Ten years allows you to get things done now and still get excited to see the results in the near term. Let’s get started on how to change your financial life in 10 years.
1. Think About Your Happiness And What You Want
Before you even look at anything related to finances, you need to take some time and think about your life and what you want out of it. What makes you happy? What do you dream of for your future self? Do you want to retire at 50? Do you want to own your own business? Whatever it is, write it down.
After you write it down, take some time away and then come back to this. Has anything changed? Does reading your goals make you happy or get you excited? You will know if you are on the right track if either of these things happen. If not, take some more time to think about what you want and then take a break and review again.
2. Review Your Finances
Now that you know what you want in life and what will make you happy, it is time to look over your finances. You don’t have to track your spending for a month or get a second job. I just want you to look over your spending for the last few months.
Pull out your bank and credit card statements and look through them. I want you to question the things you buy. Ask yourself if the product or service brought you happiness or would you rather retire at 50 or start your own business instead? I’m not asking you to live a miserable life now, but you could give up some things and still be just as happy.
Here is a personal example to help you better understand. I have Netflix. I have both the DVD service and the streaming service. I have the DVD service because I like to see new releases and many times you have to wait for them to become available on the streaming service.
But I also have HBO. I can get rid of the DVD portion of Netflix and wait to see the movies on HBO. Or I could even rent them from iTunes. In either case, that would save me $10 a month and my happiness would not be impacted much, even at all.
In another example, my wife and I both work from home. We have two cars. Do we really need two cars? They are both paid for, so there is no monthly payment to be made, but there is still the cost of insurance and maintenance. We have not made a decision on this one yet, but I wanted to give you another example for what to look at and how to think about things.
I am certain there are things in your life you could give up or cut back on and doing so would not have an impact on your happiness. Now if you were to sell your house and move into a shed in the middle of nowhere, that would have a big impact on your happiness. As such, I am not asking for drastic changes like this. Just small changes that seem insignificant.
3. Start Saving
Ideally you have found some things you can eliminate from your life. If you found nothing, you are either living a bare-bones lifestyle now, or you aren’t being completely honest with yourself. Also see How to Put More Money in Your Savings Account.
Once you do have things you can eliminate, it is time to start saving. You want to save as much as you can each month. Part of the goal of step 2 was to get you to question future purchases as well. Hopefully, before you buy something you will ask yourself if you really need it or if it will bring you happiness. Doing this will save you from buying things and lower your monthly expenses.
If you have debt, you should start making it a point to pay that down as quickly as you can. Instead of saving money in a savings account, you will be “saving” your money by paying down your debt. Once this debt is gone, you can save money in your savings account and begin investing it.
4. Work Towards Your Goal
While you are working on step 3, which will take you a few years to save up a decent amount of money, you should be working on this step as well. What is it that your dream or goal is? If it is to start a business, take this time to research the industry or type of business you want to start. Seek out successful business owners in that industry and befriend them. Take this time to learn everything you can. It will help you succeed when you do start your business.
If your goal is to retire early, you are working on the financial aspect of that now with reducing your spending and saving as much as you can. But that doesn’t mean your work is done. Take this time to really define retirement. What will it look like for you? How do you want to spend your days? Where do you want to live? The more concrete plans you have, the better off you will be in reaching your goal.
5. Monitor Your Progress
As time passes you want to continuously monitor your progress. Annually you should review your spending to see if there are any expenses you see that aren’t bringing you happiness that you can cut out. (Don’t worry if there are, we are all human and it’s only natural to get suckered into purchases we don’t need.)
You should also review your savings. How are your savings growing? Should you be investing more of your money or are you taking on too much risk?
At the end of the day, changing your financial life in 10 years is possible. The trick is to really focus on what makes you happy and make lifestyle decisions based on that. Maybe it means you sell your house and move to a smaller one. Maybe it means you quit your job. Or it could even just mean you just change up some spending habits you have so that you can save more money.
Whatever the case, you can make a significant change in 10 years. It won’t happen overnight but it doesn’t have to take 30 or 40 years. You can do it in a shorter amount of time. You just have to be dedicated to it.