If you're like the average American household, you have $15,611 in consumer debt looming over your head. (Not to mention the average $155,192 in mortgage debt and $32,264 in student loan debt.)
Those numbers can be daunting. Regardless of the figures in your bank account, you can become a wealthy woman right now.
6 ways to become a wealthy woman right now
1. Release the shame, blame, and guilt. So you've made some mistakes with your money. Who hasn't?
Maybe you signed up for a starter credit card at the booth in front of North Dining Hall because you wanted some financial independence from your parents and maybe the kind-of cool t-shirt they were giving away because, hey, free clothes, but then they didn't have your size and you ended up with an XXL t-shirt that was shoved in the back of your drawer for three years—which was two years longer than you actually used the card—but the card stayed on your record for another six years because you kept forgetting to close it or address it in any manner because you weren't actually using it ...
The point is that at some point, we've all done something silly with our cash or credit, and it's okay.
Stop guilt-tripping yourself and start anew. For more information on this, read Suze Orman's Women and Money (aff).
2. Get intimate with your money. No, I don't mean in a kinky, possibly-in-the-DSM-V sort of way.
I mean, learn your numbers and get comfortable with the money that you do have.
How much do you spend a month on lattes and massages? How about clothes and DVDs? Dinners out? Rent or a mortgage?
Get clear on how much money you have coming in and how much is going out. My favorite way to do this is using the Spending Record/Plan in Jerrold Mundis' How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously (aff).
3. Realign your spending with your values. According to Kate Northrup, author of Money, a Love Story (aff),
Money is simply a stand-in for value.
So what do you value?
Do you value dinners out because you appreciate delicious food, sparkling conversation with friends, and not having to clean up afterwards? By all means then, spend money on them!
But if you're going out because of a time crunch or because you just don't feel like cooking or someone is moving jobs and you're expected to put in some face time at a leaving do, well, that's a different story.
Take some time to figure out what truly matters to you, then shift your spending to line up. You're going to spend money; the key is to spend it in ways that matter—to you.
4. Be around stuff you love. Notice that I didn't say "buy stuff you love."
You can buy stuff you love—as long as it matters to you in the long run.
More accurately, seek out places that let you experience the things you adore, either for free or for low costs. For example, love luxury hotels? Hang out in the lobby of one (and bonus—free wifi!). Love modern art? Galleries are free to browse (but make sure you don't take home a painting). How about stellar food at a swank restaurant? The bar menu is generally cheaper and tastes just as good.
Come up with your own ideas, or study Tonya Leigh's list of ways to live a luxurious life on a not-so-luxurious budget.
5. Give, often and generously. There's something funny about money: if you spread the wealth, you tend to see more of it come back to you.
The kicker is that you have to give authentically, from the heart. True, gracious giving has ways of making its way back to you in some way, shape, or form.
Just make sure to give from your resources, not from your reserves—women have a tendency to overextend themselves, which is just exhausting and cranky-making. It's a fine line, but one worth walking.
6. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Every day, take time to appreciate what you already have.
Even if you have a bank account balance of zero and thousands of dollars in debt, no food in the fridge and a collections agent knocking at your door, you can still take the time to thank your lucky stars for the air you're breathing, the hot water in your shower, and the clothes on your back.
It's amazing happens to your mindset when you start a practice of appreciation.
- Ask Lynn: How to Break the Cycle of Indecision
- Lack Creates More Lack, Abundance Creates More Abundance
- Unlit Candles
[NB: a version of this post was first published on LynnDaue.com in 2012.]