There are absolutely tons of tools we can use to get our finances in order. I could use a different money-tracking website each day of the year, and never have to use the same system twice. They’re nifty, and many of them are free to use.

Yet, there is a secret sauce that no one else can offer you. The thing that really makes a great diference in your process of knowing what’s going on with your money.

That is your willingness to engage with it.

Let’s follow the thought, “I should really be paying attention to what’s going on with my money.”

Then, a crossroads opens up.

Road 1: Don’t actually do anything about it. Don’t change anything, don’t actually pay attention to it. Just worry about it. Maybe feel some guilt and shame, peppered with fear of an uncertain terrible future.

What do you think will change in this situation? (Other than your stress hormone levels!)

Road 2: Listen to that thought. Get curious about it. What does that mean? What’s just 1 step you could take, that would have you better know what’s going on with your money?

NOW we’re talking.

Well, if you actually do want to know what’s going on with your money, that is. Some folks seem to like to worry about something without taking action. That’s cool for them, but I’m talking to those of you who would actually like things to get better.

If you’re just getting started, or need a refresher, here are some possible first steps towards getting closer to that financial clarity that you sense would feel so good once it’s there.

~ Have you listed out your accounts, and added up what you “have”, minus what you “owe”? That’s called Net Worth. Great place to start, to find out where your collected finances are.

~Do you know your preferred system for tracking your spending? Paper and pencil still works, so it doesn’t even have to be a computer thing. AND, there are free computer programs available to anyone, so it doesn’t have to cost you anything other than just some time.

~Is there a particular category that is bugging you, that you’d like to get a better handle on it? For some people, it’s clothes and shoes. For others, it’s dining out. You know the one for you…it’s like the little Jiminy Cricket inside of you will not stop talking about how you should pay attention to that spending. One simple step in that direction could be to simply start using cash. Get some cash out at the beginning of the week. Make sure enough lasts in the envelope to get you through that week. Repeat the next week!