I’ve been a Financial Counselor for almost fifteen years now, but I wasn’t always very smart with my money.  In a kind of hilarious twist, my own financial disaster is what brought me to this career that I now love and am so passionate about. And it has become my life’s mission to help others improve their finances, slowly over time though, not with some 21 days to financial freedom hocus pocus. Slow and Steady wins the race with money and building habits is honestly the key to financial success.

What I want to share with you today is some secrets that I would tell my younger self if I could. These secrets are not that profound but they could save you a lot of time and stress and hopefully help your bank account at the same time. So, let’s dive in !

Secret #1- I would have spent a little more and purchased a better first (or second or even third) vehicle. I wasted more money on junk vehicles in my 20’s and also on car repair. I cringe at what that total is, and if I had that money in the bank, it would still be an astronomical amount of money today. My Home Ec teacher taught us to buy a 2 to 3 year-old car because it still would be in great condition without taking the huge hit of depreciation. I should have listened.

Secret #2- Don’t shop as entertainment or because you are feeling low. Buying something may make you feel better for ten minutes, but the underlying issue is still there, and then adding financial stress on top of that is a vicious cycle. I wish I would have dug into my lack of self-love and self-acceptance early on. First of all, you are amazing, smart, worthy and capable! Know that, believe that and let it permeate into your soul!

Secret #3- Begin saving money the minute you have income. Put a portion of all incoming funds coming into savings, retirement, in a jar, I don’t care- just build a rainy-day fund because it’s super important. I talk to people every day that don’t even have $100 saved! Missing a day of work sends them into panic. This is huge, so please listen- there are no bail outs for you and me, we need to save ourselves, so create an account today and set it up on auto pilot because we are unreliable (ouch). Start with $10 or $20 per pay into a savings where you do not typically bank and increase it every time you get a raise. Add to it with windfalls (like tax refunds or yard sales proceeds, etc.). Make it hard to get to, don’t order an ATM card so that you have to visit during teller hours in person.

Secret #4- Financial Freedom and Success is for everyone! It’s not reserved for people born into the right family or on the good part of town. You don’t have to have a certain color of skin, education level or zip code. You can decide today that improving your finances is a goal and make subtle changes that turn things around. Make a plan for bills, spending and saving and keep going. Use your checking account for bills only and consider carrying cash for spending to keep you on track. Put savings on automatic so you don’t even miss it.

Secret #5- Relaxing is imperative to financial success. We don’t improve any situation from a state of stress, worry and fear. Think of your energy like a garden hose. If it has a kink or block in it, the water can’t flow. This is the same as your money energy. Creative ideas, or even just common sense can’t flow in so try relaxing on purpose. Journaling, meditating (a game changer!) and doing things you love, like listening to music or walking in nature can be great ways to relax the body and mind.

Tell me what you do to reduce stress! Also, what is one money mistake you wish you could go back in time and change?