How to take control of your money (instead of letting it control you)

Jacqui Clarke says the key to controlling your finances is setting goals, implementing a plan and staying disciplined.

With determination, clear goals and and in-depth understanding of your finances, anyone can successfully manage their money.

This is the experience of Jacqui Clarke, who boasts over 30 years of experience in personal wealth and money management, and is also the author of Stop Worrying About Money.

On Property Hub’s Get Invested podcast, she provided listeners with the tools to become financially empowered, rather than living in fear of money.

Control your money: Establish money goals

Practical and realistic money goals, which are reviewed yearly, will push you to remain disciplined with your spending.

“I do like to sit down once every year, usually in January, to think about what are the types of goals that I would like to set. And when I say ‘within your means’ goals, I think it’s important to recognise that it’s possible within the current income you’ve got. And if that income’s not enough, then you’ve got to contemplate, are you the person who’s going to build a side hustle or a different type of business? Are you in the wrong job? All those types of things that you need to work out today, how to get you through in the future to setting what are those goals that are meaningful to you?” Jacqui said.

“To some extent, I think the reality is the financial information you have today can really inform that nothing is guaranteed. We know that. But in the absence of making that plan, I think you’re in deep trouble. Because discipline is the difference between what you want now and what you want most. And I think the problem we all have as adult is we have so much choice and so many options that we just spend it, because it’s there to as we created it. So if you don’t set those goals, it’s pretty easy to fall off the wagon.” 

Control your money: Hold yourself accountable

To ensure you don’t run the risk of poor spending habits, Jacqui said you need to understand exactly what money is coming in and what’s going out, especially when you’re in a relationship.

“One big mistake people make is doing nothing. So I would challenge your listeners that, if they’re in a relationship, that generally there is one of them in their relationship who knows exactly what’s going on with the money or maybe has a bit of an idea, and there’s someone else in their relationship that doesn’t really at all. And so really there’s an underlying theme around discipline with money, but also personal accountability. So I’m really focussed on people, and particularly people in relationships, actually not dropping the ball on this,” she said.

Control your money: Understand your baseline costs

A big part of understanding what’s going out is breaking down your baseline costs to survive.

“So I ask people, do you know how much it costs to open your front door at home? And people look at me blankly. So I say, just tell me roughly what it costs for your rent or your mortgage, your electricity, your insurance, your subscriptions etc. And there’s radio silence. So that’s where I start, because I think once you get that right, it’s a lot easier to work out what to do with the rest,” Jacqui said.

“I mean, the worst thing that can happen to you is that you sit down, you jot down on the back of an envelope what the costs are for opening your front door at home, and you realise that they’re more than your income. And then you’ve got a problem. So the worst case scenario, which I think easily happens, is people underestimate those costs and overestimate their income. So they go and get themselves into a big fancy home, and before they know it, with rising interest costs, they’re in real strife. And you know how hard it would be to sell your home and take your family out of that suburb into another suburb that you can afford that actually is more aligned with your income and your spending habits. That would be a really tough decision. I’ve seen people have to do that. So it’s important to recognise.”

Control your money: Embrace delayed gratification

There are many benefits to sacrificing now in order to set up your future self.

“Another mistake that can be made is the classic sort of wearing and driving your money. So it comes in easily, and it can be spent relatively easily as well. So you think about having the nice suit or having the nice handbag or having the latest iPods, AirPods, iPhones, you name it,” she said.

“So sometimes you need to say no to spending it, which is interestingly one of the hardest things that people experience with money. But I think it is actually about making the choice that is best for you. And it may not necessarily be what’s best for you today, but what might be best for you in the future. You know, sometimes people think bad things happen to them. I say things happen to you for a reason, so you take the positive spin on it. This is happening to me for a reason. What’s going to come out of this? Or how’s it going to look on the other side? Probably a whole lot better.”

Listen to the full interview here.

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