It’s not fun for people to talk about finances. Because many people don’t fully understand what financial wellness is, they don’t do it enough. Talking about finances can also be very taboo. I’ve noticed this especially rings true with women. It’s uncomfortable to say out loud that we’re not as well off as we want to be when it comes to our money and savings. 

With all of these things in mind, I recently had a great conversation with a good friend and financial adviser, Otto Nguyen. Otto and I have known each other for a while, and I love his philosophy about money matters. He believes that talking about money should be fun and open, and that thinking about finances in this way helps people improve their relationship with money. In no particular order, here are a few things I took away from our conversation.

Start with a Money Mindset

Financial wellness is virtually impossible if you don’t start thinking about your situation with a positive money mindset. That mindset is simply this: my money can absolutely make me money!

That’s not to say we need to be naive. Yes, we’re living in a pandemic. Yes, the job market in the U.S. looks scarce. However, we cannot dismiss the fact that 2020 was the year that reported the highest year of Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending. In other words, though there may be a shortage of jobs, there is no shortage of money in the world. When you do what you can within the realm of responsibility, you realize there is so much for you to receive. 

It may be hard to see this in our current economic climate, which is why you have to cement the mindset mentally. Financial wealth isn’t always what you’re given or what you have to work with. It’s more about deciding to recognize and use money to accomplish what you want, and knowing you can achieve your goals. The fact is, you’re either going to react to financial situations that arise or work to anticipate what’s going to come up. Either choice begins with how you think about what’s possible for yourself.

Dispel Money Myths

We’ve all heard the sayings from relatives and friends about money: that it doesn’t grow on trees, it’s the root of all evil, and so on. There are still others, such as the belief that people follow in the financial footsteps of their parents and grandparents. With all of these, it’s important that people rid themselves of myths in order to fully engage their financial wellness.

Here’s another bottom line from Otto: either you are going to control your money, or money is going to control you. There’s no middle ground. It’s one or the other. I couldn’t agree more! When it comes to managing your money, you have to ask yourself if you are an expense, or if you’re an investment. There is no “losing” when it comes to your financial well. There is no failure. Either it’s a winning (positive) situation for you or a learning experience. If one of your learning experiences dealt with credit and debt, learn from it! It’s not the end of the world (which is another myth). Rewrite that script that others have written about money. Tell yourself that you’re an investment, because YOU ARE! 

Set expectations

We want to improve the quality of our lives, especially when it comes to our finances. The first step to that self-improvement is self-awareness. This is a time to be very real but extremely objective with yourself. Most people aren’t where they want to be in terms of financial stability. According to Otto, that’s primarily because they haven’t set a blueprint for where they want to be and why they want to build wealth.

So how do you start? Otto suggests asking yourself where you want to go with your financial goals. What is it that you want to do with your money? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to buy a house? Are you looking to save for retirement? Do you want to go back to school? It’s important to get clear about what you want. Your dollars give you the power to make those decisions, so you need to know what you want to do with those dollars. Develop a long-term vision beyond your plans for the weekend and create financial goals about where you see yourself in life down the road. 

Take 10

Otto also suggested setting aside 10 percent of whatever you make and putting it toward your long-term goals or needs. If you can, have that 10 percent taken out before you even see it in your check. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. In other words, you won’t miss what you don’t see or have to spend. Even if you cannot start with 10 percent, start with something! Something is better than nothing! Think of it this way: if you’ve never worked out before, what’s more important: getting to the gym or determining how much you can lift? Just getting to the gym! Do what’s consistently attainable.

To offset what could be pains of saving and never reaping the benefits of it, Otto also suggested setting up a “blow bucket. ” This is an amount of money saved to go out, have a good time, and “blow” that amount of money on enjoyment once every 90 days. This, Otto said, helps prepare you to touch your dreams. It’s another thing you can do to invest in yourself, and it will catapult you to save up more to have the lifestyle you want. You can enjoy how you work for financial wellness and have a freer mental space simultaneously.

Build momentum

Your best friend, in anything, Otto said, is momentum. This is very true with saving money. Building momentum starts with goal setting, as we mentioned, but you maintain it by holding to the commitments you set for yourself. Whatever financial goal you set, whether it was 10 percent or one dollar, do what you said you would do it by the time you said you would do it. If your goal is to save $100.00 by the end of the year, have those $ 100 dollars in the bank by December 31. Start keeping the promises you make to yourself. You’ll grow more confident with your relationship with money. Let the mantra “what I say I do, I do” be your new mantra in life, specifically for your savings goals. You’ll be surprised at the results!

These are just a few nuggets of wisdom Otto and I discussed regarding financial wellness. As we all progress into 2021, we should all take time to assess and take inventory of what we’re thinking mentally about our lives and money. 2020 showed us that things will happen to us that we cannot control. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Setting goals for financial wealth will help us all live happier, healthier lives, both now and throughout the years to come.I hope to continue this discussion with Otto again soon. Check out our chat on IGTV if you want to hear our full conversation. For a personal financial consultation, Otto can be reached at https://financialrevolution.com/ottonguyen.

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