Before I started working with a financial advisor I truly did not know where my money was going. Instead of budgeting I was constantly playing catch up trying to figure out what I had spent money on. I would inevitably freak out and vow to live frugally-only to get thrown off by a big purchase and restart the cycle. I felt very chaotic and out of control. I felt a lot of shame and was scared to discuss with a financial advisor for fear of judgment. However, it did the complete opposite! It was such a positive experience it completely changed my mindset around money.

Doing a cash flow plan helped me sit down and think about where I actually wanted to spend my money. Once I laid it all out on paper, it became clearer what I value and where I was just frivolously spending money. Automating payments for bills, rent, loans, savings etc. and focusing on my weekly budget helped simplify the process. Instead of going back to the drawing board each month on how to budget, I knew exactly where everything was going and it was easy to get back on track if I went over budget some weeks.

Sitting down with a financial advisor and figuring out my yearly expenses also helped me realize how much I needed to save. With upcoming weddings and travel plans in mind it made saving easier as I knew exactly what I was saving for.

Mapping out your finances with a cash flow plan will help you align your goals and actions. My only regret is not doing it sooner!

- Erin O'Rourke