Well, we sure learned a lot over the course of Money Moves, our 12-week e-course with investment manager BlackRock, on how to master your finances. While tackling money matters is often stressful, taking appropriate baby steps (and accomplishing weekly challenges) over the course of three months proved to be a gradual and effective way to getting our money situation figured out.
After all, it’s impossible to become an expert in any topic overnight. Money Moves was our way to identify what our current money status is, what our money goals should be, and how to achieve those short- and long-term goals for financial success.
PSA: If you have no idea what we’re talking about and would like to subscribe, or recommend this series to a pal, you can do so right here!
Below is a recap of what we covered over the 12 weeks and how these learnings contribute to your overall well-being, plus a few parting words to keep in mind for the future as you continue on your journey to financial independence.
W1: Identify what wealth means to you
What we learned: Having “wealth” means being in a state to have choices, security, independence, better health, and more.
How this improves your well-being: Whatever your money sitch is, you should always have goals that will lead you to financial independence—because financial independence means financial freedom.
W2: Talk honestly about money
What we learned: Having convos about money doesn’t have to be taboo—in fact, it’s vital for success.
How this improves your well-being: It can motivate you to ask for a raise, or help keep your finance goals and priorities in check with your partner.
W3: Set three realistic $$$ goals
What we learned: Setting specific money goals, and having specific dollar amounts attached to them, is important when saving for both short- and long-term.
How this improves your well-being: Once you achieve one money goal, you can achieve many more money goals!
W4: Create a budget you’ll stick to
What we learned: Figuring out your fixed expenses and flexible expenses will help determine whatever’s left that can go toward your savings and investments.
How this improves your well-being: Proper budgeting offers personalized money guidelines so that you’ll never spend more than you have or earn.
W5: Learn the basics of investing
What we learned: Even with a small amount of money, you can open up an investment plan that allows you to trade and buy stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds.
How this improves your well-being: Compound interest is one of the most powerful tools in investing—it allows your savings to grow a lot over time.
W6: Grow, grow, grow your savings
What we learned: Putting your emergency funds in a high-yield checking account (that is, a bank with a high-interest rate) can grow your money without you even knowing.
How this improves your well-being: You’ll have peace of mind if there’s ever a sitch where you have to dip into your emergency fund—job loss, medical bills, having to move suddenly, etc.
W7: Ways to earn more, make more
What we learned: There are many lesser-known ways you can make the most out of your paycheck—as long as you’re informed on what your workplace offers.
How this improves your well-being: Taking advantage of office perks can mean discounts on phone bills, gym memberships, commuter plans, and more.
W8: The dos and don’ts of debt
What we learned: Paying off credit card debt needs to be a top priority; if you have student loan debt, it can be paid off simultaneously.
How this improves your well-being: Being debt-free will allow you to achieve other long-term money goals faster.
W9: Make the most of your side-hustle
What we learned: Side-hustling is a great way to make additional income, but you need to do it correctly—ahem, pay taxes and follow the laws!
How this improves your well-being: The extra dough is fabulous, but imagine your passion project turning into a viable business.
W10: Retirement—it should be on your mind
What we learned: You can still have lofty money goals, like buying a house or taking a sabbatical to travel the world, but achieve them in addition to saving up for retirement.
How this improves your well-being: Achieving multiple long-term money goals is possible with smart and consistent automation in separate savings accounts.
W11: The tools you need for future success
What we learned: You’re not alone in your journey to financial independence; there are myriad resources and tools (many which are free!) that can keep you organized and informed on what’s happening with your money.
How this improves your well-being: Money management is something you’ll have to do for the rest of your life, so get educated while you’re young.
AND NOW, A FEW PARTING WORDS…
To close out our Money Moves series, we spoke with Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, financial wellness educator and author of The 30-Day Money Cleanse, who offered up sound money advice so we can continue on the road to financial independence.
Why is it crucial to start investing ASAP?
“Women invest less often than men but we’re better at it when we do. By not investing, we’re missing out on thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars over the course of our lifetime. Why? Compound interest has been called the eighth wonder of the world because it allows our money to grow exponentially over time.
Can your well-being be positively impacted by taking control of your finances?
“Our financial well-being is such an important part of our overall well-being and mental health, and it seeps into every area of our lives. According to the American Psychological Association, money was the number one stressor of Americans the last 10 out of 11 years (only to be beat out this past year by the state of the nation). It’s even affecting our work. According to the CFPB, 81 percent of workers say that financial problems have affected their productivity at work. There are so many emotional benefits to actively managing our finances — less shame and guilt, confidence, and peace of mind.”
How do you know when you’ve achieved financial independence?
“To me, financial independence means freedom. When we are financially well we can leave people and situations where we are being mistreated or when we aren’t happy. We can negotiate harder to be paid fairly at work and can take risks in our careers. Financial freedom also means investing in the people, experiences, and things that are important to us and align with our values.”
Again, if you haven’t yet signed up for our Money Moves e-course, what are you waiting for? Subscribe at the link today.