Yup, it’s almost the end of the year, can you believe it?
No matter the good or the bad, I’m sure you already know it’s extremely helpful to take stock of what’s happened so far in 2018 to help pave the way for 2019.
I love this end of year ritual for finances because it gives me a chance to slow down, reflect, and look back at all the amazing money accomplishments of this year. (It makes me squeal, uncomfortable, and motivated all at once.)
It can be the same for you as well my friend. Yes, it’s scary to look at the numbers (especially if you haven’t done so before), but I assure you it’ll help you get more clarity in your life in general and manage any intentions or goals you want to set for 2019.
This ritual can be as formal or informal as you’d like. Some people break it up into a few days here and there. Personally, I grab a special notebook, make a cup of masala chai, and sit at my dining table to knock this all out at once. It doesn’t matter, the important thing is to do it.
Here are the steps I go through, including questions to ask and what to do with the information once it’s all out there.
When I became debt-free, I shrugged it off. When I started earning more, I shrugged if off. When I got married and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy without needing to spend a dime, I shrugged it off.
Looking back, I’m shocked I didn’t celebrate any of this stuff. Celebrating our wins can be really uncomfortable (it certainly can be for me at times) and still it’s necessary to see how strong and able we are. Even if you’re in the thick of getting out of debt or working towards that dream vacation, it’s so important to celebrate every single thing done, no matter how small it may seem.
Perhaps the most important part of this ritual is to prove to yourself that you’re doing good work. And yes, that you are enough.
What to do:
It’s really simple: List out at least 52 things you’re proud of this year. Remember to think Beyond the Dollar while finding some way to relate these to money.
Here’s an example from my own journal last year:
Things I’m proud of:
- Paid for childcare so I can have time to grow the business
- Added two new income streams to my business
- Sold off items that were no longer adding value to my life
- Moved across three states and staying under budget
Once you’ve written your list or patterns, it’s time to acknowledge them. Think about all the times when you were happy or stressed over money. This is a subtle but important part of any end of year ritual because it helps you see what your relationship was with money this year.
Questions to ask to get to the heart of those themes:
- What were your plans (small or large) for 2018? What happened?
- Were there any transitions that happened this year?
- Did you start any new money management practices this year?
- What books did you read that called out to you?
- Did you take any money courses or work with a money coach this year?
- How did you feel about money emotionally this year?
Give yourself time to write whatever comes up for you. Take a deep breath and write down any themes. These will help you when you reflect and plan for 2019.
Themes that emerged for me were transitions, self-care and minimalism.
This part tends to make me nervous, it’s the part where you get to look back at the not so fun parts of the year. I implore you, do not shy away from any of this.
The point here isn’t to shame yourself (please don’t do that). Rather, it’s to understand that you’re human and it’s important to learn the lessons from all that’s happened this year. Again, good and bad. That’s all.
Here are some things to write down:
- Did you take on any more debt?
- Any money events you were ashamed of?
- Any investments that didn’t pay off?
- Did you save any of your paycheck?
- Did you make purchases you regret? If so, what were they?
- Did you do any decluttering/sell off any of your things? What did you do with that money?
- How did you feel about money emotionally this year?
Let me share a few of my not so proud moments (I gotta practice what I preach!):
- Let a friend take advantage of me financially
- Spent too much on loose leaf tea when I had a ton in the cupboard
- Made two impulse purchases on business courses
Look at the Numbers
This part of the process may take a few days, especially if it’s your first time doing this. Your first step may to gather up all your financial records, and that’s ok.
Once you’ve got all those, it’s time to add them all up:
- Look at how much money you made. Include gifts and freebies
- Look at your expenses, aka how much you spent this year.
- Put your expenses into categories, or values (if you’ve done values-based spending).
- Look at the money goals you had this year. Did you achieve them? By how much?
- Look at the goals again. Were they realistic? Did you unintentionally set yourself up for disappointment?
- Was there anything (or things) you learned about yourself this year?
Yup, a lot to take in. For now, you can see what I’ve come up during my ritual:
- I set myself up for disappointment in the number of products I wanted to create and launch
- I kept worrying too much about what I wasn’t making and talked myself out of writing proposals for large client contracts
- I didn’t spend as much time on holidays with the family
Take a Look and Reflect
Now is the time to absorb the numbers, emotions, wins and mistakes and reflect upon it all. Yes, you’ve looked at themes and all that, and it’s helpful to do it one more time once you’ve written the numbers down.
This is the point where you just allow all the emotions to surface: the good, bad and the ugly. Cry if you need to, scream if you need to, celebrate once again if you need to!
Letting It All Go
Now let all of the bad stuff go. Not to forget it, but to forgive it. ust look at the “failures” or lessons learned… and let them go. I suggest you look at yourself in the mirror and speak to yourself. It’s a bit weird, but it really works. Whatever you do, ritualize it. Make it count.
Other people write them down and rip up the paper or meditate. Some drink wine or do something celebratory after this part of the ritual is done.
Once you’ve completed this part, it’s not over. Remember, your relationship with money is fluid. The ritual is to merely get you to think about what has happened. Now is the time to move forward and create a ritual to help you set future goals and desires. You get to set intentions and get excited about the the upcoming year. Because the point is to continue to better your money so you can achieve those dreams, right?
Being a badass with your money is as easy as asking yourself what you want.
Download our values-based spending guide and figure out how to revolutionize your financial decisions ASAP.
(psst...we also send you occasional emails on how else to live beyond the dollar. You in?)
Latest posts by Sarah Li Cain (see all)
- What’s The True Price of Ambition? - February 16, 2019
- The Brutal Truth About Growing a Six Figure Freelance Writing Business - January 23, 2019
- 5 Kickass Ways to Help You Grow Your Net-Worth, Like Right Now - December 27, 2018