Start Where You Are – Baby Steps Are The Key To Success

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Today I want to talk to you about a message I have read in a book that I am currently reading – it’s called The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert.

In the book he talks about how we need to be more compassionate with ourselves, and he tells a story about when he was a student psychologist. He was feeling worried that as a student, he wasn’t serving his patients properly, and his supervisor replied that he was learning, and that the essence of life is to “start where we are, and use what we have”. I thought this was particularly poignant and I’ll tell you why.

Often we are living in the future, or living in the past. How many times have you caught yourself saying “one day I’ll do X” or “I wish I had learnt to do Y sooner”.

I did this (and still do this) a lot

I used to stress about my debt hole, and would beat myself up for getting into it in the first place. The point is, its happened now, and I have to get myself out of it. I have to remember the things that being in debt has taught me – consistency, patience and a whole new way of spending within my means. Without the debt, this likely would never have happened, and I probably wouldn’t be writing to you now.

Its funny how adversity can actually be a strength.

The next thing I often stress about is the future. I compare myself to other money bloggers and worry that I’m not good enough, or that I’ll never reach their stage of success. Sometimes the feeling is so overwhelming I want to quit. But I don’t, and the reason is because of the “start where you are” mentality.

EVERY blogger starts off with just one follower. EVERY blogger starts off not having a clue what to do, or how to do it.

Everyone Starts Small

This doesn’t just work for bloggers, this works for money too. We don’t arrive on this planet as babies with a working knowledge of the stock market, or know instantly how to budget our money. This is a skill we must learn, and sadly, due to the fact that our parents often lack these skills, we go for years learning by trial and error. Sometimes we learn some really harsh lessons that could have been avoided if only we’d have had guidance earlier.

The problem is, we often compare ourselves to others. According to Paul Gilbert’s book, this is a design feature of our brain for survival back in the stone age. We needed to be aware of how others perceived us in order to feel accepted into the tribe so that we don’t die in the wilderness all alone!

Companisonitis

Comparisonitis causes us to overspend, or feel bad about ourselves because we don’t have what someone else has. Bigger houses, better cars, better jobs. If we’re not careful, we forget about what makes us so special and unique.

We also compare ourselves when it comes to our money. Who has more? Who has the best investments? Who has the biggest net worth. Or, in the other direction, who is the poorest?

This is the fastest way to make ourselves feel miserable.

So if you’re fretting right now that you haven’t got it right, that somehow money is overwhelming you, and by not having enough of it you’re somehow “inferior”, then please be kind to yourself and stop. You are at the perfect stage for where you need to be RIGHT NOW.

Baby Steps

Dave Ramsey has a really useful “baby steps” model that might give you a sense of how you could apply an organised step-wise approach in your own money.

They go like this:

  • Baby Step 1: $1,000 cash in a beginner emergency fund
  • Baby Step 2: Use the debt snowball to pay off all your debt but the house
  • Baby Step 3: A fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses
  • Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into retirement
  • Baby Step 5: Start saving for college
  • Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early
  • Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give generously

Dave Ramsey is American, which is why it is in dollars, and he talks about saving for college, but this could be the equivalent in your own currency and for the circumstances in your own country. The point is, figure out where you are on this list, and then start right from there. In my opinion, step 1,2,3,4, and 5 (if possible) should all be done simultaneously.

  • 1 and 3 are linked, so would be a savings account that you could automate and put money into every month straight after payday using a direct debit.
  • Investing is a crucial element to financial security, and the sooner you start the better.
  • Paying off debt needs to happen alongside everything else using the snowball method (paying off the smallest to largest debt first)

Budgeting

This is where the money-pie budget method comes in and is useful to help you with getting your head around this. Don’t worry about the percentages of income you need to devote to each area, this will take time to build up to. If you can only devote 1% into each of these areas, then so be it until you have rearranged your spending. The point is you’re now aware of your own spending, and you can see where you need to make changes.

You don’t have to be perfect right from the start. The point is that you start

Now over to you! What step are you starting from? Tell us in the comments below!

See you next week,

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Every week I'll send you something inspiring, useful and fun related to our favourite m-word.....MONEY! I look forward to "meeting" you. Love, Dr Nikki x

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