If you keep up with me on Instagram, you likely noticed I rang in my 30th with a big trip to Cancun, Mexico last weekend. The culmination of the trip – of being able to pack-up-and-go and curry my influence into an epic sponsored trip + stay – made me feel really, really lucky. (I'll be posting a few more details of the trip later on this week!)
“But, wait.” I thought, “I don't want to say that I'm “lucky.”
Why? Because, it doesn't tell the whole story. The one of all the hard work and frustration and yes, even desperation that comes with being a blogger.
Saying I'm simply “lucky” to be doing what I do further feeds into the whole self-guilt/self-doubt cycle I've been trying to beat as part of my new year's resolution for this year.
I'll say this instead – I've worked very hard over the last five years to architect my “best life.” This weekend was just the tip of the iceberg, so-to-speak…the first time I really felt it all coming together: the money, the ability to be creative, and the privilege to be truly flexible while doing something I love.
“I feel like you've been basically eat-pray-loving your way through life for the last two years.” ~ My friend, Jesica.
And if any of that sounds/looks good to you, I want to tell you two important things about achieving your own financial best life:
- First, is that living your best life is very attainable for anyone.
- Second, is that in order to get there you have to commit the time and follow a process.
Upon further reflection, I boiled down my own financial journey (and subsequent content on this site) into four game-changing steps. I know for me, these have made all the difference in enabling me to get to where I am today.
In order to achieve your financial best life, here's what needs to happen:
Step #1 – Master the Money Basics
Spend time figuring out what your own best life looks like, and then create a plan for how you're going to afford it.
“Affording it” doesn't mean you have to get rich and make a million dollars. It just means you have to learn how to manage your money well.
In fact, it's one of my core money beliefs that you don't have to be an expert (or hire an expert) to manage your everyday finances.
Steps include: learning how to build a budget, save some money, figuring out how to save more money, establishing some type of emergency fund, discovering how your personality wants to manage your money, working to create a healthy relationship with credit, and finding the financial tools you'll love to use along the way.
The important thing isn't to get it right, but to simply start spending time with your money each day if you're new to it.
Pro Tip: There are also some great free resources and worksheets you can access in our “Best Life Vault” – from budgeting to saving up for a home.
Step #2 – Pay off debt.
While debt can be a tool to be leveraged for whatever you want to do, in most cases debt is just another thing that holds you back.
Steps include: This is why it's very important to pay off debt as fast as you can, create a debt master plan for tackling the rest, and put things in place to help you stay motivated while paying off debt. It can take a long time, sure, but in the grand scheme of things a little pain now (in terms of debt payoff) is worth a lot down the road. I never would've been able to leave my full time job if I hadn't gotten serious about paying off my debt. (See 8k in 90 day challenge.)
Step #3 – Invest in yourself (and your future)
Investing doesn't always have to mean in the markets. Once you've paid off debt, you're now free to really invest in what makes you happy: yourself, your education, a blog, your kid's education, a future business, or a home for your family. (Even if that family is just you and a little dog!)
Once debt is done, it's a great time to divert that payoff energy into really earning money. Start funneling that cash into other financial goals.
Saving is obviously super important, but if you truly want to live your “best life” you'll need to focus on earning too.
You want to be investing in things that will make your money grow for the long term – as passively as possible. Remember, we want a life filled with more time for doing the things we want to do, and less of people telling us what we ought to be doing.
Step #4 – Live Your Best Life
I think the biggest component to “living your best life” is to stop exclusively trading dollars for time. Any entrepreneur will tell you this. It's a game changer and provides greater stability, even if you're not raking in “the big bucks.”
While I know a lot of millennial bloggers and entrepreneurs preach this ad nauseum, I also know that not everyone hates their job. Some people like to work in an office and hustle on the side.
But passive income never hurt anyone. And no one ever complained about a little revenue on the side. I get so much meaning from my work and creative endeavors, but figuring out passive income through blogging has been on my favorite parts to the whole financial journey.
Passive income will allow you to eventually take time off if you need to for an emergency, a great experience, or to focus on building whatever comes next.
The important thing is to just start. Stop thinking and start doing. After all, money is a lifelong journey.
And most importantly – stop caring about what other people think or what they're doing. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. It took me a really long time to get over this, and I'm not perfect, but my happiness has vastly improved once I stopped giving a f*ck about what others thought of me or what I was “supposed” to be doing.
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