Happiness Spreadsheet

5 Ways to Boost Your Financial Confidence

Boost Your Financial Confidence

In many aspects of life, confidence is key. But if there’s one category where that emotion is often lacking, it’s financial. Fortunately, April is National Financial Literacy Month. To celebrate, this month’s podcast episode features Jennifer Barrett, author of Think Like a Breadwinner. In addition, I’m sharing some tips of my own for how you can boost your financial confidence to shift your money mindset.

Five steps you can take right now to boost your financial confidence:

1. Face Your Finances

Regularly revisiting your budget, checking in on your accounts, and tracking your net worth are three tasks that any financial advisor would recommend. And for good reason. These tasks may seem simplistic, but they provide you with a solid financial foundation. Moreover, getting a routine down for the basics will also help boost your financial confidence when it comes to tackling larger tasks.

2. Educate Yourself

There is an incredible number of ways to improve your financial literacy. And with the rise of personal finance blogs, podcasts, books, and courses, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on the information you need.

For instance, Curtis Financial Planning’s website contains the Of Independent Means blog and the Financial Finesse podcast, as well as several free downloads and other resources. In addition, the Balance has compiled a handy list of the 10 best personal finance books of 2021.

3. Know Your Worth

Have you gone a year or more without a cost-of-living raise? Or have you recently changed positions, taken on more responsibilities, or spent time honing your skills? If so, it’s time to negotiate a higher salary. Indeed, growing the gap between your expenses and your income will boost your financial confidence. However, it can also help you meet many common financial goals.

Just be sure to do your research to find out how much others in your position are making. For example, websites like Glassdoor will give you the average salary for your position and location. In addition, you can add in your years of experience to get a more specific answer.

4. Set Financial Goals

Two common financial goals are putting together a budget or spending plan and paying down debt. These two tasks go hand-in-hand, and they’re vital for a healthy financial future. Other examples of financial goals include:

• Starting an emergency fund
• Saving for retirement
• Paying off your mortgage
• Funding a dream vacation

Setting financial goals offers a daily reminder of what matters more than emotional spending or convenience purchases. No matter your financial goals, facing your finances, increasing your knowledge, and knowing what you’re worth can help you get there.

5. Partner With a Financial Advisor

Nothing offers a bigger, better, or faster financial confidence boost than partnering with a knowledgeable financial advisor. To get started and cross one thing off your financial to-do list, download The Happiness Spreadsheet. This incredible free resource offers a unique approach to budgeting by aligning your spending plan with your values.

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Budgeting For Happiness: Your New Spending Plan

New Spending Plan

Many women resist traditional budgeting because it feels so restrictive. Your new spending plan prioritizes what’s most important to you.

At the mention of the word “budget,” many people cringe. Like the word “diet,” it brings about a sense of dread, thoughts of deprivation, and the possibility of failure. Instead of focusing on the long-term rewards of effective budgeting, you start to focus on what you can’t have right now. When that deprivation mentality kicks in, it makes mindless shopping or impulse purchases harder to resist. But don’t fret; this mindset is fixable if you take a different approach with your spending plan.

The Psychology of Budgeting

There’s a psychological side to budgeting. It involves motivation, discipline, and often a bit of creativity. The idea of budgeting creates an emotional response in your brain, and it’s not always a good one. Creating and sticking to a budget can feel like yet another task on your already endless to-do list, not to mention the fact that this task also involves math, which most of us tend to avoid. But stick with me here because you do need a budget, just not the kind that fills you with an impending sense of doom. 

Why You Need a Budget 

As challenging as it can be, budgeting is a necessary not-so-evil. For starters, identifying where your money is going every month can help you find ways to cut back, increase your savings, and work toward your financial goals. A recent U.S. Bank study revealed that only 41% of Americans use a budget, even though it’s one of the most effective ways to keep track of our finances. 

It’s time to try a better way. Budgeting can help you improve your financial security, limit unaligned spending, and avoid debt and financial stress. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase your financial control and sense of financial fulfillment. 

What If There Were a Better Way? 

The key to better budgeting is to make it feel less like deprivation and more like prioritization. Understanding your core values, financial and otherwise, and aligning your spending with them can be very motivating. And when you feel more aligned, it tends to lead to greater fulfillment and better habits. 

Here are some suggestions for aligning your new budget spending plan with your values: 

  • Create a financial plan that emphasizes your goals, whether that’s early retirement, real estate investments, or that long-awaited vacation  
  • If you’re estimating costs, it’s always better to be conservative (i.e., overestimate rather than underestimate)
  • Link your spending to things that you value—this may require some self-reflection work, but it will be worth it 
  • Use visuals to maintain your motivation (pop pictures on the wall over your desk or create a vision board on Pinterest), and revisit your goals regularly  
  • Give yourself grace and a chance to rework the numbers or try again if you fall off track 

Your New Spending Plan

To implement these ideas in your own budget, download The Happiness Spreadsheet for a fresh, inspiring approach to budgeting that aligns your spending plan with your values.

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Budgeting for Happiness with Spreadsheets On Spreadsheet Day

Nowadays, it seems there is a “day” for everything. And, today, October 17, is spreadsheet day. Spreadsheet day commemorates the day the first spreadsheet program, Visicalc, was released way back in 1979. Spreadsheets are a great tool because they help us to organize and categorize data into a logical format. Then, we can use them to analyze or help solve a problem or create a solution. 

Cash Flow Spreadsheets 

As a financial planner, one of the things I help people with is their cash flow – making sure that what comes in and what goes out is sustainable over a lifetime. It starts with a typical spreadsheet – a list of items and what they cost each year and then projected out over several years. The columns and rows add up into numbers that can be analyzed. 

But when it comes to spending, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Since resources are finite for most people, where the money goes has a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Lots of people lose sight of this in living and spending day-to-day. For example, they may spend money on things or experiences that aren’t that important to them, and not have money left over for the things that are. Or, they may have a long term goal that requires saving up for, yet, they continue to deplete their checking account each month without saving a dime. 

Some of this spending behavior is a function of how our brains work. Immediate gratification is very compelling, and it’s hard to focus on longer-term goals unless we make it a habit. Another brain feature that makes it hard to be a disciplined spender is that our brains like novelty. We prefer new and shiny objects or situations – much more than the same old, same old. These biological brain cravings are hard to overcome unless we do it on purpose. That is where my brain hack for controlling spending comes in, and yes, it’s a spreadsheet: The Happiness Spreadsheet.

The Happiness Spreadsheet- what is it?

Filling out a Happiness Spreadsheet requires you to think hard and identify the things and experiences that are the most satisfying to you.  

It also required you to admit that you may be spending money on things that aren’t important to you at all. For example, you may own an expensive car that costs a lot to maintain and is a hassle to park, when you would rather walk, take public transportation, or rideshare. Or, you love to cook and eat simple healthy meals, but instead, you eat out four times a week. Once you identify your values and desires, you can focus on bringing more of them into your life through your spending habits.

Want to give the Happiness Sheet a try? You can download a free copy here: https://www.curtisfinancialplanning.com.

Happy spreadsheeting!





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Where Creativity and Finance Connect

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon and the light was streaming in the windows of the cozy art studio. A long table was covered in butcher paper and  cheese and crackers, frittata and chocolate bars were ready to be consumed. As Tamara and I finished getting the room ready for our workshop, the attendees (all women)  began to arrive one by one, ready to challenge themselves to a few hours of personal exploration and discovery.

It was the Happiness Spreadsheet Workshop entitled “Where Creativity and Finance Connect”, and the exercises these women were about to embark on were from my newly published ebook, “The Happiness Spreadsheet.” I asked artist and attorney, Tamara Holland of Bean Up The Nose Art if she would team up with me to lead the “right-brain” creative exercises while I led the more analytical work. I couldn’t think of a better partner and I was fortunate that she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

What is a Happiness Spreadsheet?
It’s a budgeting tool that guides and inspires the reader to figure out what is most important to them – experiences, things, people, causes, beliefs and goals – and then to apportion their resources (money and time) so that they can bring more of those things into their lives. Most of the women attending the workshop had done budgeting of one kind or another, but no one had ever thought to connect their budget with their values.

For example, if you love travel, what does that say about you? Perhaps that you thrive on adventure, excitement, or unpredictability. If you are a home-body, you may crave stability, safety and familiarity. If you value sustainability, you want to eat foods grown organically and locally or consume less and recycle more. Or if you desire more leisure in your life, you may want to hire more service providers to give yourself more time. Whatever it is, the better you know yourself, the more likely it is you will focus on your happiness triggers and bring more of them into your life. In our busy lives, we often just “do” and don’t spend much time thinking about “why” and then wonder why our lives feel stalled or unsatisfying. Or, we end up spending our scarce resources on things that don’t matter that much to us.

When the ladies were asked why they signed up for the workshop and what they wanted to get out of it, these were some of the replies:

“I’ve been giving a lot of myself to others for a long time now, and I want to focus on myself. I’ve forgotten what I want most out of life.”

“I’m going through some major transitions right now and I want to decide on my next move with thought and care. I thought this workshop would help.”

“As I get older, I find that I want to spend my time and money more consciously and stop frittering it away on things that aren’t that important to me.”

“I spend so much time at work and recovering from work that I don’t think about where I want to spend my time and money. I have the resources, I just don’t know how to best use them.”

The Happiness Spreadsheet Workshop Vision Artwork
The Happiness Spreadsheet Workshop Vision Artwork

I think it was unanimous that the favorite exercise involved  painting. Not with a brush but with credit cards! Tamara had each woman sprinkle three large sheets of paper with several colors of  paint and then using the edge of a credit card, scrape the paint across the page. This technique created the most wonderful art and then the sheets were used as the base for vision-boards. I can’t think of a better use for a credit card, can you? One of the numbers-based exercises consisted of allocating $2500  amongst a list of different things or experiences  – a real-life experience that we all do but perhaps not as consciously as we should.

At the end of the workshop each participant was asked to do a “show and tell” of their vision artwork. This was fun and inspiring. See a few clips below.

The Happiness Spreadsheet Workshop Vision Artwork
The Happiness Spreadsheet Workshop Vision Artwork

Tamara and I are  planning our next workshop on June 23rd in San Anselmo, California. If you would like to attend, email me at cathy@curtisfinancialplanning.com for details.

Tell me: Just how happy do you want to become?

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