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Take control of your finances

Today I’m so excited to share a guest post from my sweet neighbor, Abby Anderson. Abby and I connected just a short couple of months ago, but I feel like I have known her so much longer. I feel so blessed to live right across the street from her and all of her boys! Us “boy” moms need to stick together! Not only is Abby an amazing wife and mama, but she also has a passion to bring financial awareness and education to women – regardless where you are in your financial journey.

I think it’s time that women join the conversation about finances. Abby breaks down some small steps you can take today to start. I hope Abby’s interview inspires and motivates you as much as it did me! If you’re ready to start a conversation with a financial company (Abby was too humble to mention it), visit her company’s website, The Johnston Group.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself (family/job/etc.)

I’m just your average wife, mom of three boys (8, 6 and 18 months), living in the suburbs and working hard to find harmony and peace in my home and work life. I wake up every day and stumble my way through finding the perfect blend of growing, pushing myself, and discovering my own purpose. In addition to supporting, encouraging, and loving my family, allowing them to also flourish and live a purposeful life.

Q: What got you interested in working in the financial industry?

Funny question. One I never thought I would be answering. My dad started a business 24 years ago. He dreamed of helping families and individuals find a structure and a plan for managing their finances in a way that aligned with their values and supported their families’ specific goals. My dad lost his mom when he was ten and then his dad when he was sixteen. I think the lack of structure my dad experienced in his formative years was the catalyst for his passion to help others live a more successful life. My dad, with the help of an incredible team, help create the missing structure and framework, so people can make informed and appropriate decisions. Over the years I have watched my mom and dad live out the quote Maya Angelou is so well known for, “When you learn… Teach! When you get… Give!” I knew my dad worked in “finance,” but what I learned was he has a passion for people, their stories, and helping them to map out their road to success or what many refer to as “financial freedom.”

The business was a part of my life growing up. Their clients often became close friends, I knew many of their kids. They dragged us downtown on weekends so that Mom and Dad could get work done. They assigned us jobs like filing, cleaning out the copy room, organizing, answering phones etc… Because it was such a big part of who I was growing up, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly “what” got me interested in the financial services industry.

I do know that I have always had a special place in my heart for this business, because I have seen the sacrifices my mom and dad have made, and I have watched how they love and care for each client. It also became clear to me in my adult years, how truly important this work is. It was through starting new jobs out of college, managing my own money, seeking my own purpose, getting married, having children, and now working with my husband to manage our household that I really truly began to understand that every move we make is impacted by our finances. I’ve experienced my own ups and downs with my financial life as an adult and I have seen others around me make both good and bad choices that have taught me so much. I know that this is where I am supposed to be. I know that there is a need now more than ever for there to be women involved in the discussion around financial planning. My heart is completely in it and I have this exciting feeling that my art, design, and communication background was supposed to lead me right to where I am now – crazy how life works. I believe that I am here to continue with the work my mom has already done in encouraging and empowering women to have a voice and take an interest in their personal or their families’ financial well-being. I am so energized by the idea that sharing stories with women about how we think, feel, and act when it comes to finances will truly change the impact that we women can have on our families’ success.

Q: What is one of the biggest mistakes you see people make in terms of their finances?

Believing that financial planning is only for the very wealthyOver-spending — just to keep up with those around themPutting off financial planning, because they feel overwhelmed or are embarrassed by their current stateLeaving all financial decisions up to a spouse or significant other, or not having a general sense of their money coming in and going out.

Q: What advice do you give to people who are just starting to look at their finances?

Now is the time to start – don’t put it off any longer. Find an advisor or a company that you know you can trust. Have a conversation about what you’re doing now and what you could be doing with some extra structure, encouragement, and expertise. I truly believe you will find it to be therapeutic as soon as you get over the initial fear of feeling as though you will be judged. Everything worth doing requires work and doesn’t come easily – right?

Q: What are some small steps people can take to get their spending/savings in order?

Start tracking! Use your bank reports and see where you’re spending your money each month. Develop an awareness, so you know where you could cut out spending and start saving instead! Often what we think we are spending and what we are actually spending are two different things.

This may seem super simple but start TALKING about money. Ask friends what they do, how they budget, how they make decisions. As women, we are typically willing to talk about so many topics (I know we just met 10 minutes ago but here’s my whole birth story), but for some reason we’ve decided that the one thing we all have in common and worry about on a daily basis is one thing we DON’T talk about – money!

Q: What are some easy, free tools you can recommend for people to start managing their finances?

I personally like I know others who use and love the app “You Need A Budget” or Dave Ramsey’s “EveryDollar,” budgeting app. I also like to keep an Excel spreadsheet of our monthly expenses. This helps us when we start thinking about a big purchase or life change. We can update the spreadsheet and see what the hypothetical situation will do to our monthly cash flow. This is very handy when making all sorts of decisions, like whether to do daycare or hire a nanny, whether I need to work part-time or full-time, or just to get a clearer picture about how something like a new mortgage payment would impact our cash flow.

Q: If there was one piece of advice you could give people, what would it be?

For all of the women – get involved in your finances. Start to know what’s going on. You don’t have to be an expert or even love to talk finance, but know what you have, where it is, and what your plan is. Ask questions and understand the overall picture. I firmly believe that being aware, involved, and being on the same page as your spouse will be incredibly important in thriving and not just surviving.

I don’t know about you, but I also know that I need accountability or even a partner or coach who has a deeper knowledge and understanding than I do. My workouts are ten times more effective when I am working with a trainer or a work out partner, and in that same way, checking in with your spouse or your financial advisor on a regular basis will often help you change bad behavior and produce better results.

Also, one last thing I would love to touch on is this crazy idea that the people with the nicer cars, houses, clothes — whatever — are the ones who have it all figured out and have these ideal financial situations. We need to quit comparing and striving for someone else’s idea of success. If we use that as our barometer or target for success, we may never feel a sense of accomplishment. There will always be someone else who will have more than we do – and sometimes, people who look like they have a lot of wealth today actually have very little saved for the future! Believe me, it is usually the frugal and unassuming people who are the millionaires next door. They may not have a fancy car or the biggest house on the block, but they have many choices and freedoms available to them because of their good spending habits. Let’s find those people in our lives and strive to connect and become more like them!

If you have a desire to connect and learn alongside a group of other motivated women, I would love if you would follow our women’s series and group called Better Together! You are always welcome and we would love to have you.

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