Six steps to prosperity

Prosperity, in many ways, is a state of mind.  Here are a few ideas or strategies I’ve started to implement which are helping me focus on a stronger financial future.

1. Personal stock take

Before embarking on any life-changing mission or event, I think it’s really important to take stock of where you are, what great things you have in your life, and how far you’ve already come.

Since I was 12 years old, I’ve used a journal to record my thoughts, feelings and fears about my current situation and where I’m heading. It’s actually been a great tool to get me in the right frame of mind for moving forward or progressing out of my comfort zone.

When your mission is about improving prosperity and gaining financial freedom, it’s pretty important to take stock of your net worth. This can be a tough one, but get all of your bank balances together in one place, your savings and investments as well as any debts including personal/car loans, mortgage, etc. Even consider your superannuation balance when you do this. Plot everything into a spreadsheet (or just a piece of paper if you prefer) and work out your current net worth, so you have a starting point to improve from.

You also need to find out where you’re spending your money. There are some great tracking apps out there, and some online banking platforms will allow you to categorise your spending so you can start to see patterns. I’ve used Pocketbook, ASIC’s Track My Spend and the money tracking options in my online banking (Netbank).

2. Envision it

Once you’ve recognised where you are and what you already have. Start building up a vision for the future. I’ve done this a couple of ways. Firstly, I make a vision board. I find it a lot of fun to do this with an actual board (I use a stretched canvas so it’s easy to hang), some magazines, scissors and a glue stick. I cut out images and words that represent where I want to be in one to three years’ time. Then I try to artistically arrange them on the canvas. Alternatively, you can do your vision board online. I did try this way instead recently, through dreamitalive.com, and have it saved as my desktop background.

Another way to envision your future success is to write about it. On three consecutive nights set aside some time to imagine what your ideal prosperity-filled future looks like and write it all down. At first, it seems a little weird, but just go with it and it can be a really inspiring and insightful exercise.

3. Plans and action

Ok, this part involves making a BUDGET, especially if you’re overspending like I was. Once you’ve identified where your spending or saving is going wrong, you can start making plans to fix it. I’ve done this through itemising our monthly expenses in an Excel spreadsheet, so I know how much can be put aside into savings each month after the essentials are taken care of. When I was still in step one (personal stock take), I realised there were a few areas I could save money on like insurance and grocery shopping, so I implemented plans to reduce spending in these areas.

You also might need to take action in reducing clutter in your life, including all those ‘VIP’ email subscriptions to clothing stores… I have been going through a process of de-cluttering my life over the past few months and while there is still a long way to go, it’s starting to impact how prosperous I feel. The more I reduce, the more I realise I have, and the less I need.

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4. Talk about it

Start talking with those closest to you about what you’re planning to do to improve your prosperity. For me, it was essential to get my husband on board with the plan as he’s our main breadwinner at the moment. We decided to have a monthly ‘money date’ to talk about where we are at financially and make sure we are both OK with the plan moving forward.

You may also want to start talking to a financial planner, accountant or money coach about what you should do to get your finances working better for you – just make sure they aren’t trying to sell you anything…

5. Listen and learn

Learn something new about money or financial wellness every day, or at least every week. I’ve been doing this by subscribing to some great podcasts, including Profit Boss Radio and So Money. I also love The Slow Home podcast, which is Australian and focuses on simplifying your life and slowing down. I have also found some excellent books on wealth building/investing, which are available as audiobooks now through iTunes or Audible.

Another thing you can do is talk to people you know who work in the financial industry. Maybe you have a friend who is an accountant, or a stockbroker, or a bank manager. Pick their brains over a cup of coffee – find out what they do and how they get great results for their clients.

6. Understand what works for you

The strategies I use to save money or reduce debt might not fit your lifestyle, but a bit of self-reflection could help you find the sweet spot to achieve your financial goals.

For me, the most important thing is to stop the negative self-talk and comparisons to others. That always makes me want to go shopping!

What steps have you taken to improve your financial future?