3 Steps To Dramatically Change Your Finances Through Focus

finances focus

I’m not exactly rich right now. Two years ago, I’d finished paying off old debts and made a conscious decision to live and to pursue my passions. What followed were a few major expenses. I got my teeth fixed (around 3,000 EUR) and enrolled in business courses (2,700 EUR). I finally got into traditional archery and swordfighting (for which I bought equipment far exceeding 1,000 EUR).
 

Add to that the fact that I took a substantial cut in salary when I downsized my life, plus a few unforeseen expenses, and you have a fairly skint Sibylle who once again owes some money. Yet when I think back to the time I went broke in 2004, I realise it couldn’t be more different this time around.
 

For one thing, I owed a lot more back then. But the main difference is that I had no idea about finances and no idea how to deal with the mess. I was scared and helpless. Now, while my finances are a little strained, I still know exactly what’s going on. I went into this knowingly and don’t regret a single expense, because they were all necessary for my well-being and/or happiness. Most of all, I know without a shadow of a doubt, how and when I’ll have every last penny paid back and a comfortable financial “cushion” once again.
 

In short, I’m now educated about finances. I’ve also developed something which enhances everything in life, including finances: focus.
 
 

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Finances revolutionised

 

To learn about finances, I spent years going to workshops around the world and doing every program offered online. I read dozens of books on money management and found through trial and error, which of the systems I learned made sense. Therefore, I regularly write about money in the newsletter, and I hope with all my heart that it’s helpful.
 

The most important thing about finances is to tackle them on two fronts: Money management, which is about knowing where your money goes and how to budget it, is step 1. Step 2 is a mindset which is as free as possible from learned ideas about money being scarce, or only coming to bad, greedy people, and all these other things we pick up from childhood onwards.
 
 

Where is your focus?

 

You’ve probably heard about the law of attraction, which states that you manifest in your life whatever you focus on. Focus is what occupies your mind most of the time. Now with an average of 6,000 thoughts that each of us has every day, it’s practically impossible to police this process. Fortunately, there’s a shortcut: Your emotions, which are caused by your thoughts.
 

Ever felt pretty good, and then you remembered something awful someone said to you, or your child being bullied, and after a minute or two you feel awful? Nothing outward happened, you just thought of something negative, and it changed everything.
 

To find out where your focus is, check in with your emotions. Set 3-4 alarms on your phone throughout the day. Whenever you hear the alarm, ask yourself how you feel. If the answer is anything other than: “Wonderful!” at least half the time, your focus is not on things that make you happy.
 

If you consciously adjust your thoughts 3-4 times a day, you will form a habit over time. Think thoughts of gratitude, or think of someone you love. It takes a while, so stick with it for at least a month or two! The change will be dramatic.
 
 

Make it work for your finances

 

Here’s how you can use the above process in relation to your money situation.
 

1. When you “check” in, specifically ask yourself how you feel about your finances. If you feel awful, or even just uncomfortable, your focus is likely on bills, expenses, or debts. Adjust this towards thinking of the money you receive, however little it is.
 

2. Create a “giving” fund of ideally about 5% of your income. If you can’t afford it, start with 10 or 20 bucks a month. Donate these to a cause close to your heart. Whenever you do this, send along your love.
 

3. Also check in with how you feel whenever you spend money. If you feel anxious or worried, stop yourself. Say: “I happily give xxx EUR/$ for this” or, as Marie Forleo suggests: “There’s more where that came from.”
 

These may seem like small steps, but they will turn around your focus. You’ll move away from scarcity and regret, and towards abundance and security. Your cash flow will follow.

Plug Your Money Leaks (and have fun with it)

Personal Finances, Money Leak

There was nothing fun about going broke and having a large, powerful bank breathing down my neck. And yet, it led to massive personal growth for me. I got my act together and learned about personal finances (and of course, paid back every last cent I owed), and I learned incredibly useful lessons along the way.
 

Easily the best and most useful of these lessons was the realisation how much stuff I don’t need in my life. My clothes didn’t fall apart even after three years. I didn’t need to order in pizza, I could bake the frozen version from the supermarket just fine. I realised with relief, that neither my happiness nor my self-worth depended on anything I needed money for.
 

It also taught me a lot about my spending style, and the reasons why I had always been terrible with money up until then. One major point is what I call “money leaks”, and it’s so big, I decided to dedicate an entire article to it. Heads up: If you identify and plug the places where you’re “leaking money”, you’ll end up with much more, without penny-pinching.

[bctt tweet=”If you identify and plug the places where you’re ‘leaking money’, you’ll end up with much more, without penny-pinching.”]

 
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Identifying your money leaks

 

We all have different spending habits. That’s why it’s important to track your spending for a while. Don’t worry, you won’t have to write down every croissant you buy forever! Just stick with it for a month and see what you can learn from it.
 

A lot of money advice seems to focus on frugality. My approach is a little different: I recommend you save money in order to finance more joy with it! Plugging the money leaks is much easier this way. By the way, if you haven’t done my free online training yet, you can sign up for it here – it’ll give you 3 days of lessons and assignments you can put into practice immediately.
 

A money leak is an expense that’s not strictly necessary and doesn’t contribute to your joy and passion (or passions) in the long term. In the following, I’m going to give you a list of common leaks, in order to give you an idea. Yours might be completely different, of course, but it’ll be easier for you to spot them once you know what to look for.
 
 

Subscriptions

 

These are recurring, often monthly, expenses which seem completely insignificant on their own. How much can those few bucks for Netflix really hurt? The problem is, that it’s a constant “leak”, and if you add up all your subscriptions, the amount you spend on them per year can be rather frightening.
 

The solution: Ask yourself if you can get the same thing for free. Could you pool your Netflix account with a friend, or watch the same shows on DVDs a friend owns and could lend you? Do you get a newspaper whose main articles are all available online for free? Is your TV really enhancing your life, or taking time from your reading and your passion? Are you paying for an anti-virus program when a free one would work, too?
 
 

Clubs and gym memberships

 

Do you still pay for that gym membership although you’ve stopped going six months ago? Or do you pay for a social club whose meetings you hardly ever attend? It might be time to weed those out.
 

The solution: The gym is not the only way to get into shape. Look for online workout videos and find a sports hobby you actually enjoy. Try running with a friend or playing volleyball with a group at a public volleyball court. You’re more likely to stick with it this way, and it won’t cost you a thing!
 
 

Special offers

 

Certain shops and websites run regular offers which are so cheap, it seems insane not to buy them. The problem is that this tricks you into buying things you would never have got otherwise, and a lot of the time you end up buying additional stuff, spending even more.
 

The solution: Before you hit the “Add to Cart” button, ask yourself if this pretty porch lantern is really essential for your passions and your joy in life. You have lived, how many years, without it – could you perhaps do without a little longer?

[bctt tweet=”If it’s something you wouldn’t buy if it wasn’t cheap, then even the cheap price is too much.”]

Once you’ve plugged those money leaks, you’ll be surprised how much more cash you have left every month. It’s time now to invest this – into savings, into “play” money (a certain amount you’re allowed to blow each month), and of course into your passion! Have fun with this, and always think in terms of what else you can afford now, rather than what you’re denying yourself.