Use Your Creativity In Your Financial Planning
Creatives tend to be great at visualising the broad outlines of an idea. It’s easy to see the big picture, but it’s even easier to become distracted or frustrated, when it comes time to focus on the finer details.
This way of looking at the world and processing information provides a big boost to our imagination and creativity; after all, it is this mindset that enables us to create things that are fresh and unique. But, this mindset has its drawbacks as well. This is especially true when it becomes necessary to take a time out from our dreams and focus on the more mundane and practical aspects of living – such as planning our finances.
Why Numbers and Financial Statements Are So Frustrating to Creatives
As visual processors, it can be difficult for us to find meaning from the row upon row of text and numbers found in typical budgets and spreadsheets. Many creatives become so frustrated that they simply put off reading their financial statements and completely neglect financial planning.
Creatives that neglect to pay attention to their finances and fail to set financial goals then tend to end up finding out the hard way that the adage that “those who fail to plan, plan to fail,” is heartbreakingly true. The ability to set financial goals and achieve them isn’t the result of luck, but planning.
How to Find Meaning in Your Financials – Make Them Visual
Just because you are a creative that is frustrated by figures doesn’t mean that you have to give up on getting a better grip on your money. The trick is to allow your natural creative ability to guide you when you make your plans and track your goals. As a visual processor, the key is to find a system that is easy to use and that will allow you to literally “see” your goals and progress.
Try the following tips to help you get a better handle on your finances!
Setting Financial Goals – Nail Down Your Vision
What does financial success look like to you? Rather than using words and long lines of text to describe what you want to achieve financially, try collecting images of what success looks like to you and make a collage of what you want your money to achieve.
Whether it’s a physical montage made of images you cut out of magazines or a virtual “vision board” that you create online, search and collect the pictures that depict the lifestyle that you want to achieve through your work and your business.
Check in with your vision board on a daily basis to gather inspiration and increase your motivation to help you keep working towards your financial goals.
Using a vision board to illustrate your financial goals doesn’t just increase your enthusiasm to keep working towards your goals. It also unlocks the power of your subconscious mind and gets it working for you, helping you maintain your resolve, rather than working against you and sabotaging your efforts.
Plan on How to Get There – One Step at a Time
Now that you have an image in your mind’s eye of what you are working towards, it’s understandable if you have mixed feelings. You may be excited, but also feeling a bit overwhelmed, especially if your vision of financial success is a big departure from your current lifestyle and standard of living.
The key to reaching these larger financial goals is to break them down into smaller steps, and then focus on each step, each day. In time, you will get there. Budgeting for each of these steps is simply setting aside the portion of your money that you need to help you achieve each of these smaller steps.
Putting Your Steps into Terms that are Meaningful to You
As you are thinking about the steps that you will need to take to achieve your goals, you might find yourself feeling a bit anxious, which is understandable. If you feel nervous during this stage, just focus on visualise how to divide and group your money based on how to achieve each step of your larger goal.
At this stage, you are probably worried that you will have to suffer through creating and reading long, tedious spreadsheets in order to plan out the smaller steps of your budget. The truth is that there are a number of tools that make budgeting for these smaller steps and your overall goals very easy. Many of these tools can gather your financial information together for you and can then turn it into meaningful visual information that is easier to relate to and understand.
Let Technology Do the Hard Work for You
Rather than focusing on complex charts of numbers, focus on keeping things simple. Take advantage of the simple templates that Google Docs has for budgets, or, if you use online banking, use the built-in features offered by many banks that automatically turn your spending into graphs and pie charts that can show you how much you’ve spent and how much progress you are making towards your goals. .
If your bank does not offer this feature, there are a host of online websites that offer basic planning, budgeting and tracking in the cloud, for free. One such site is Mint.com; it allows you to customise your budget and goals, as well as your accounts. The site updates your transactions automatically and then allows you to easily see how well you are doing by presenting the information in colourful graph form. Features like these allow you to easily break down complex financial information and understand it at a mere glance!
If you don’t want to use a cloud-based system, you can also gather your financial information yourself periodically and then create your own graphs and pie charts by hand on a poster, just as you can a vision board.
Regardless of what system that you use when you are making your financial plans and creating the budget that will help you reach your goals, the important thing is to choose one that is simple for you to implement and that makes understanding your financial information easy and meaningful for you.