You have to pay for the things you need. This includes basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing. Beyond that, ask yourself: what do you want to do with your money?

Think of all the things you want to accomplish with your money. Do you want to travel? Make a large donation? Buy a home? Create an emergency fund? Open an IRA? Save for college tuition — your own or your children’s? Don’t just think about the answers: grab a pen or pencil and a pad of paper, and write down your answers to this question.

Once you have that list, ask yourself a second question: what do you do with your money? Again, don’t just think about your answers — write them down.

Now, compare your answers to these two questions. Does what you do with your money reflect what you want to do with your money? Or do the two lists seem completely unrelated? Do you want to be debt free but spend most of your extra money on things like cable TV, entertainment, and clothes and shoes?

If what you do with your money doesn’t reflect what you want to do with your money, challenge yourself to make a change. Start by creating financial goals, then create a budget to help you adjust your spending in a way that allows you to save for those financial goals. This may involve sacrificing some of the things you spend money on now: daily coffees, dining out, subscriptions and memberships. Can’t decide what to sacrifice? Sit down and determine what you need vs. what you want. Be brutally honest. It may be difficult, but remember why you’re doing this – there’s something you want more than coffee and cable TV.

Personal finance isn’t simply about making enough money to pay for everything you need and want. It’s about having the right financial mindset and habits. It’s about creating goals, making those goals a priority, and making sound financial decisions accordingly.

So, ask yourself: what do you want to do with your money? What do you need to do to get there?

Covenant Trust Company is a financial services company owned by the Evangelical Covenant Church and its affiliates. Our services are available to anyone in need of asset management, retirement planning, legacy planning, gift planning, or trust services. In addition, we seek opportunities to encourage and promote healthy financial habits, and keep a personal finance blog at www.covtrustblog.com.

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