Financially Stressed? Give Yourself This Gift

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As we near Christmas, we finally start wrapping up the last of our holiday shopping. Gifts are purchased, wrapped and put under the tree as eager family awaits Christmas morning. In a flurry of wrapping paper, red bows and cardboard boxes, we get to enjoy gifts from those we love, and experience the joy of giving to our loved ones as well.

But most people neglect to get themselves a gift.

So I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the best gift that you can give to yourself this Christmas. It’s a simple gift, but can have a profound impact on your financial future.

Financially Stressed

What Is It?

This gift is something that can help lift the burden of financial stress in your life. It doesn’t cost you anything, but can save you a ton in the long run. This gift is simple to use, but hard to implement. The lasting impact will give you increased enjoyment and long-lasting contentment.

That gift is….a break.

Give Yourself A Break

Here’s what I mean. Every day, I have people who are seeking financial help come to this site, read articles on how to save money and how to get on a budget, and then take action by downloading my budget spreadsheet to get their money started on the right path. I’ve done money coaching for a few of them, chatted over email, and more recently, (through a site survey) have started hearing about why exactly people are looking to start taking care of their finances.

I have heard from you that you feel stuck, that your money just isn’t doing what you want it to do, and you need help. Even more of you are trying to find a way out of debt, cope with financial loss and find a way to hang onto the money that seems to slip through your fingers each month. You all have goals and dreams of what life would be like “if only” the money part would start working out.

And I hear you.

I started this site 3 1/2 years ago out of a passion to help people get on a budget. Not because budgets are super fun and exciting (well, they are to me 😉 ), but because budgets are the core tool to help people get financially free. There is nothing more satisfying than showing someone how to give each dollar a purpose, and seeing the light come on as they start moving in the right direction. I have emails and testimonies from those who are saving more, hitting goals sooner than they ever imagined, and have had the burden lifted that weighed them down for so many years.

Getting on a budget plan can, and will, change your financial life.

But if you are here and are feeling broke, desperate and have lost financial hope, I want you to do this first.

Give. Yourself. A. Break.

The fact that you are here seeking financial education and a way out means you have already taken your first step toward financial freedom. You should stand up and pat yourself on the back that you care enough about yourself, your family and your life to get your money right. Stop feeling guilty for making money mistakes, or not being able to figure it out on your own.

There will be plenty more “Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t know this 10 years ago” moments along your financial freedom journey, and feeling bad for not knowing will NOT help you. Heck, I keep learning things that make me think “geez, I’m dumb”, but I take that learning, change my habits for the better and move on.

Being ashamed of your past financial mistakes is just a roadblock on your journey to financial success.

And this goes for those who have been on a budget for years as well. Actually, this is ESPECIALLY for those on a budget. Financial mistakes can and will happen, and dwelling on them will make you bitter, but it won’t make you richer! The people who I know have had the most financial success were able to STAY THE COURSE on their financial plan, even when they blew the budget, or life knocked them down. And those people I know who gave up on their budget are those who got fed up when they blew it, or something came up and drained their savings for the month. What they told themselves was “I can’t get ahead”, but what they needed to hear was “it’s ok, life happens, let’s pick it back up and move on.”

Wherever You Are Right Now Is The Best Place To Start

As someone who is driven by results, I often get frustrated when it feels like I’m going nowhere. For example, our debt payoff journey has gone slower than I would have hoped. We’re now less than $5,000 away from debt freedom, but it’s taken many years longer than I would have hoped. Sometimes I feel like it’s never going to happen, and I read all these stories of people paying of ridiculous sums of debt in just a few months or a year, and think that I did it wrong.
But then I snap back to reality and realize that dwelling on past decisions or lack of progress isn’t actually helping. What helps is looking at where we are right now and making a plan to take action on reaching our goal of debt freedom.

Wherever you are in your financial journey is the BEST place to start.

But how?

I typically recommend walking through the Budgeting Basics. Not because a piece of paper will change your financial future, but because the 5-part series gets down to the core of where you are, and where you want to be. The first part doesn’t even touch on your current financial situation, but instead focuses on what direction you’d like your life to go. After that, you can fill in the financial details and really start working toward debt freedom, retirement savings, buying a house, or whatever financial goals you have on your list. But you need to start now.

Stop being hard on yourself. Your financial mistakes don’t define you.

Instead, accept where you are and take your first step forward. You have nothing more to lose and the world to gain.

p.s. this applies to more than money. This applies to any situation in your life, whether it’s your health, your relationships or your career, etc. Accept where you are and make a plan to get where you want to be.

Comments: How have you been hard on yourself this year? How are you going to fix that attitude next year, and what are you going to do differently?

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

12 thoughts on “Financially Stressed? Give Yourself This Gift”

  1. I wasn’t hard on myself this year, but I have been in the past. I have a tendency to set huge expectations on myself then hate myself when they don’t pan out. I hope you have a great Christmas and New Year!

    • That’s me as well. I set goals and get upset when life gets in the way. But the goal didn’t go away, it just got moved a bit. 🙂

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you as well!

  2. I don’t think things ever go how we want them to, but we are trying and that’s the main thing. We are learning and making headway toward our goals. Giving ourselves a break because we didn’t accomplish 100% of our goals is definitely a good idea!

    • I totally wrote this post for me. I get so caught up in how awesome everyone else seems to be doing and am hard on myself. But I need to step back and realize that life is actually pretty great, and though things may not be panning out, dwelling on the past mistakes will not get me any further toward my goals. In fact, it will delay my goals further and kill my motivation.

  3. We have been extremely hard on ourselves this year with budgeting because of some major setbacks. But we have our own version of budget basics that is giving us clarity on where the financial stress is coming from!

    • We’re our own biggest critics, aren’t we? I hear you, we’ve had a similar year. I’ve realized that dwelling on the financial blunders of this past year does NOTHING for me, so we’re just taking the lessons learned and moving on. Excited for 2016!

  4. I quit being hard on myself years ago. I did have a problem with setting lofty financial goals and then beat myself up for not being able to reach them. But then I adopted the “always move forward” mindset. Even in failure to get where I wanted to be, as long as I made progress and learned the what and where of my shortcomings I was way ahead of where I started. The thing is, the journey is a great teacher.

  5. I am ABSOLUTELY loving you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You push yourselves hard and when you fall a little short, you beat yourselves up – BUT you are now learning to lighten up on yourselves. I think you do need to set your goals high, kind of knowing it’s a little bit impossible to make that goal and then just accept that you gave it your best shot, fell a little short and that’s OK. I believe that it is that mindset that gets you to where you want to be and I have no doubt every one of you is going to reach your goals and then some. Just remember to be kind along the way – including being kind to yourselves! Seriously, I’m pushing 60 and I am absolutely loving your generation!

    • Jim, I’ll be honest, your story has inspired us a bit. When looking at our $$$ goals, I remind myself that we will be JUST FINE, even if we’re not saving a ton, and are still building out the lifestyle we want and progressing slower than I would have hoped. We need to slow down and appreciate what’s right in front of us. Our money goals will always be there, and help drive our decisions, but constantly feeling bad about NOT being the best with money will NOT help us get any closer, and will take us away from the HUGE BLESSINGS we already have.

      Always great to hear from you 🙂

  6. We have been to a great degree hard on ourselves this year with planning as a result of some real misfortunes. Be that as it may, we have our own particular form of spending plan rudiments that is giving us clarity on where the monetary anxiety is originating from!

  7. I agree – we cannot be too hard on our selves. If we are, it is easy to get down and depressed. It’s best to just accept you are where you are and work out a plan to make a change to improve.


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