Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Unexploited Finances: Step One, Priorities

Below is part one of a four step series on how to go about Exploiting Your Finances, Exploiting Your Life! (UPDATE: Find Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here.)

The key to exploiting your finances, and subsequently exploiting your life, is setting your LIFE PRIORITIES.

Your life priorities will drive everything!

You’ll use them to motivate you through the difficult times. You’ll use them to shape your future. You’ll use them as your excuse for changing your financial habits – yes, excuses…you’ll have something to blame!

Life Priorities

There’s no set list of life priorities that you have to choice from. You get to choose ANYTHING!

You can use priorities such as buying a new car, buying a new house, or taking a vacation.

Or you can choose priorities that may seem unrealistic – such as taking six vacations a year, saving for a gap year, paying off all of your debt!

(The more outlandish the priority, the more you may be motivated!)

My wife and I had a goal to pay off ALL of our debt (over $70,000) in two years. Without setting our priorities, there is no way (no way!) that we could have paid of our debt so fast. This was a crazy idea for us - we didn't know anyone else that was debt free!

Priorities motivate you to act.

Your priorities may motivate you to act, but this has to be something you really, really want!

A weak priority will fail you when you need it most. A weak priority will allow you to bend the rules, allow you to make an excuse, allow you to cheat!

Pick something that you’re passionate about! Something that you’ll want to tell the world you did! You’ll be so proud of accomplishing this goal that everything else will seem insignificant!

(Don’t worry, once complete, you’ll find even greater priorities…because you’ll know you can do it!)

How to set your priorities?

Picking your priority should take some soul searching.

Spend some time picturing your ideal life. This is where you want your finances to take you.

Where do you live? Who and what are you surrounded by? What type of profession do you have?

Again, nothing is unrealistic at this point!

Trust me, I had no idea that I could be debt free – honestly, who doesn't have a car payment or student loans anymore – but here I am! I had no idea that I could take six vacations this year, and have all of them paid off before I returned home!

If you're married, or have a significant other, you'll definitely want to work with them on shared priorities.  You may each have some individual goals, but shared priorities will help you both support one another and see amazing results!

Now, pick your top one or two priorities.

Do they have the strength to overrule any objections that you come up with?

Can they withstand your internal temptations?

How badly do you want this?

Wow! If you made it through those questions, sounds like one amazing priority at this point!

What does this have to do with finances?

After selecting your life priorities, think about how your finances can help make this a reality.

Being debt free has an obvious correlation to your finances, but how about gaining more 'time'.

Why do you not have the time now? Answer: I work too many hours. Why do you work so many hours? Answer: I need to pay my bills. What bills do you have to pay? Answer: Home, utilities, debt, and food.

Might removing your debt (or lowering your other bills), remove your need for the current job, thereby giving you an opportunity to find a job where you can work less hours, and give you time to be with your family? Answer: Yes!!!!

If you go through this exercise, you’ll find that money is the major obstacle for us to reach our priorities – which is obviously why we’re talking about exploiting your finances!

Include others.

The more family and friends that you tell your priorities to, the more they will become real.

Yes, your family and friends may not believe it at first, but don’t worry, this is normal! We’re being different here, going down our own path!

Don't just tell them about your plans, tell them your successes and failures!

Not enough people talk about their priorities and their finances – keeping this hidden does nothing to help accomplish your goals!! Tell the world!

Write the priorities down somewhere in your home. Put reminders up – you’ll need the motivation!

I have a sticky note on my work computer with a countdown to our gap year. Every time I need a boost, I update the number of days left – this works wonders!

It’s hard, but doable!

Priorities are determined.

Have your priorities? Good!

This is the most important step in the process!

These priorities will drive you through the rest of the process.  Get ready to Exploit Your Finances, Exploit Your Life!

Now, let’s move on to the next step…

Yours in exploiting life!

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