Five Steps to a Solid Financial Foundation

There are so many different ways to save money, make money, and build wealth. This section is meant to inspire, encourage, and challenge you with your finances. It’s intended to give you some checkpoints on the way to building wealth, and I wanted you to know that I believe you can do this!!

Your financial dreams are totally achievable; you just need a good, workable plan. These steps below are the foundational steps to your financial foundation.

Warning: My husband and I are geeky about personal finance. We have been trained as financial coaches through our church, and we even read financial books on our honeymoon! Actually, I totally recommend reading those books together with your significant other. It enabled us to have the same vocabulary when talking about financial issues, and it gave us a jumping off point for discussion and dreaming about our home finances.

We LOVE helping people to achieve their financial dreams!

Step 1: Have Written Financial Goals

If money were no object, what would you be doing? Where would you live? What would you eat for breakfast? How would you spend your days? What were you created to do on this earth?

So many of us get too bogged down with the day-to-day worries of life and month-to-month expenses to dream. This is your time– take a minute to let those questions sink in, and imagine the life that you would love to live.

Here’s those questions again to ponder:

If money were no object, what would you be doing?

Where would you live?

What would you have eaten for breakfast?

How would you spend your day?

What were you created to do on this earth?

For us, the goal is financial freedom, which means that our side hustles and businesses cover our living expenses. That would give my husband the option to not work at his day job or at least to cut back. We would ultimately love to work overseas with nonprofit and missions organizations without having to fund raise, which would also require my hubby not to be tied to a desk job.

Write down your dreams and goals! Studies have shown that you’re far more likely to achieve your goals if you just write them down! Additionally, they’re even more powerful if you review them every morning as part of your morning routine.

Resources for Step 1:

As you’re dreaming and goal-setting, check out these books that we love to kickstart your financial journey:

For a very conservative approach, Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover will give you tools and tips to get and stay out of debt, build wealth, and retire comfortably. It’s especially great for people who struggle with credit card and consumer debt.

For a more middle of the road approach, Joe Sangl’s I Was Broke Now I’m Not is a great resource to clean up your finances, create a budget, and get your financial life headed in the direction that you want. His website is also full of great, free resources to help you have fun getting taking control of your finances. He’s also super-encouraging along the way!

Finally, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad is an amazing book that blew my mind with its entrepreneurial spin on finances. He discusses the differences between employees, self-employed business people, business owners, and investors, and he discusses at length where each of those roads can take you. If you have some huge dreams that you want to fund, this is a classic personal finance book to give you ideas for how to get there.

Each book is on very different ends of the financial spectrum, so I encourage you to read each and get a feel for these varying viewpoints. This can help you to develop your own opinions and chart the financial course that works best for you!

abilities! Having set work times and a plan for each one of them will keep you on track.

Living Well Planner

If you need another resource, this Planner is great for super-charging you to reach your goals. It has some budgeting components, but the free course available with it will get you ready to absolutely crush your newly set goals!

Step 2: Have a Written Plan

Budget!

Yup, it’s time to talk about that dreaded word… If it helps, we like to call it a Spending Plan in our house. Spending Plan takes some of the sting out of “budgeting” and helps spenders like me to realize that we’re not stuck to a budget. Instead, we’re choosing in advance how we’re going to spend our monthly income.

It seems like the majority of relationships have a Spender and a Saver. I am definitely The Spender in our marriage, while my husband is such a Mr. Saver that he was able to use money he had been saving since high school to buy my engagement ring! Having a monthly budget meeting (aka Spending Plan Meeting) helps us to make sure that we’re both on the same page and reduces friction over our finances.

It is important to plan this out in advance! It seems like without a written plan that you can stick to, money magically likes to spend itself and drift away. Giving it instructions on where to go will help you to get to your financial goals faster.

Resources for Step 2:

As mentioned in Step 1, Joe Sangl has some fantastic, FREE resources for budgeting! We’ve been using his budgeting spreadsheets for over 5 years and absolutely love them! He also has Savings Spectaculars and Pay Off Spectaculars, which are like coloring sheets that you get to fill in bit by bit as you reach your financial goals! Lol, I love anything that keeps me motivated to keep saving!

Rosemarie Groner over at The Busy Budgeter has a a FREE 90 Day Bootcamp Program to kick your finances into gear! She’s a popular personal finance blogger, and her resources are easy to follow and inspiring. It’s based off of a life organizational system that helped her to plan her meals, set up simple routines, and pay off $40,000 in debt!

For a twist on the traditional budgeting model, consider living off last month’s income like Stephanie over at Six Figures Under. She’s got a guide to help you get one month ahead and details why they live off the previous month’s income. She also has tips on frugal living that have worked wonders for them as they paid off over $144,000 of debt in less than 4 years!

Step 3: Save Money

This step has both some specific and general recommendations:

Specific: Save $1000 For Your Emergency Fund Before You Do Anything Else!

An emergency fund is there for… emergencies, of course! But, it’s more than that! It’s your safety cushion to stop a cycle of debt.

If you have debt that you need to address, put it on hold for a little while during this season of saving up. If you don’t have an emergency fund, when your little one breaks their arm or the fridge suddenly stops working, you’ll be putting things back on the credit card. If you’ve got an emergency fund, it can help you gain traction with your finances.

If you’ve already got $1000 saved up, work towards increasing your fund to cover 3 to 6 months of your normal living expenses. This will give you a bit more wiggle room for emergencies.

Side note: Christmas, birthdays, and oil changes are not usually emergencies. It’s great to have savings categories for them in your budget.

General Money-Saving Notes and Resources for Step 3:

It’s a really, really good idea to get out of consumer debt. The Bible talks about the debtor being a slave or servant to the lender, and that’s just what debt feels like! It’s a big, heavy chain that keeps you attached to Sally Mae, Freddie Mac, or Visa for a long, long time.

Do your best to chip away at your debt, and if you had a chance to read Dave Ramsey’s or Joe Sangl’s books (lol, or borrow them from the library), you’ll get some great suggestions on how to do that. As mentioned above, I love the motivational aspect of Joe Sangl’s Debt Pay-Off Spectaculars!

There are so many great and creative ways to save money. Keep your eye out for my favorite tips here on Early to Bed, Early to Rise, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments or an email!

For couponing deals, I love the Southern Savers website.

For general money saving tips and to find great deals, Crystal over at Money Saving Mom is amazing.

For some creative and unique solutions for saving money, check out Michelle’s tips at Making Cents of Sense.

Step 4: Consider a Side Hustle

As you’re getting your financial house in order, sometimes a little extra income can make a huge difference. You can use it to pay off some of that debt, give you breathing room in your budget, or add some fun extras to your life (lol, my personal favorite!).

My favorite side hustle of 2017 was probably writing for Textbroker. When I felt so inclined, I wrote early in the morning or during my toddler’s nap time and made over $3000. I know that’s not super impressive, but it was great to have the flexibility to write when I wanted to. Some of the proceeds went to pay for dry cleaning (so I didn’t have to iron my husband’s work clothes) and hiring a landscaper so we could spend more family time at the beach on the weekends (instead of hubby cutting the grass).

Here’s my top tips for making money with Textbroker. 

Side hustles usually require your time but little of your capital. There’s a ton of other great things that you can do like…

Become an Uber Driver

House hack (including rent your place out on Air B n B)

Start a gig on Fivrr or an Etsy shop (if you’re creative or crafty)

Retail arbitrage through Amazon FBA (buy stuff on clearance and resell for retail on Amazon)

Start a Blog (very time consuming but a lot more fun than writing for Textbroker-lol)

If you’re starting a blog, here’s my prep list for before you start and my favorite ways to stay on track in the beginning! 

 

Step 5: Build an Empire… or at least, a business

Okay, we need to address something important: You cannot SAVE your way to wealth. Boom, mic drop.

Giving up lattes in favor of the home-brewed kind might help you save some here and there. It can even move you closer to some immediate financial goals.

But, if your goals are HUGE (like ours) or you ultimately dream of quitting your day job to travel full-time, then you’ll need a sustainable business or investment to get you there.

This step may evolve and change as you grow and learn in your financial journey. This may be a side hustle that grows into a full time income or something completely new and deliberate.

As you start a business, consider reinvesting all of your profit for the first 6 to 12 months to continue growing your new venture. Always keep in mind how you can create systems to keep your business on track and allow you to work on your business instead of in it. Unless your goal is to set up a sole proprietorship and work forever in your business, remember to think of your business as an investment and set up key people and procedures to reduce your workload.

There’s a ton of options for this, and this step may require a much larger financial investment than your side hustles. This can include things like:

Starting a Private Label business on Amazon

Investing in residential or commercial real estate (our fav!)

Buying a franchise

…and so many more!

What Are You Now and Where Are You Headed?

Each of the above steps tend to build on top of each other. Having a solid platform of a plan and a budget lets you start building towards your goals and deals.

Where are you on the ladder? What are your financial goals?

I’d love to hear what you’re working on currently so we can encourage one another!

5 Steps to a Solid Financial Foundation