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My Facebook and Instagram pages recently got hacked. Someone is out there pretending to be me and sending odd and random messages to my friends and contacts. Thankfully, none of the messages were lewd, political or asked for money. But the experience of being hacked was scary and upsetting just the same.

If you’ve ever been hacked, you know that in addition to being a giant pain in the ‘you-know-what’, one of the most annoying aspects of this experience is feeling completely out of control. You don’t know who the imposter has sent messages to, what the imposter posted pretending to be you or what might be their next move. It’s downright infuriating!

This experience reminded me what it feels like when you don’t have control over your finances. While you can’t blame an imposter for what’s happening, not knowing what’s happening with your finances can feel just as scary as having your social media identity stolen. According to a September 18, 2018 article in MoneyTalkNews entitled “5 Ways to Seize Control of Your Finances- And Be Happier“, Sarah Newcomb from Morningstar tells us that people who feel they have control over their finances are significantly happier than those who don’t, regardless of how much money they earn. In fact, high earners who have little control over their money are much less happy than low earners who feel in control over their money.

Here are some steps to gain control over your money:

  • Know what you value and make sure what you’re doing with your money aligns with those values. If you value security and stability but you aren’t saving or sticking to a spending plan, you won’t feel in control over your finances. Similarly, if you value health, for example, and spend your extra money on a gym membership or a spin class, you’ll feel in control because your values are in alignment with your spending and saving.
  • Know where your money’s going each month. There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you look at your checking account and see how little there is left towards the end of the month but don’t really know where all your money disappeared to! One of the things we do at Money Mentor Group is help you develop a personal spending and saving plan so you gain clarity on your finances.
  • Give yourself an allowance. Everyone needs some ‘me’ money to spend.  Life is short and you should enjoy it! Every so often, we all need to treat ourselves to something that simply makes us feel good, like an item from Oprah’s 2019 List of Favorite Things.
  • Get organized. Being financially disorganized can be as detrimental as not having enough money. One of the easiest and most effective things to do is to balance your payments with your paydays.  Figure out which bills need to get paid out of your first paycheck of the month based on the due date and which ones need to get paid out of your second paycheck.  Just pay bills twice a month, coinciding with the timing of your paycheck, and you don’t have to think about paying bills until the next paycheck comes.

If you feel stressed about having multiple sources of debt- several credit cards with balances, student loan payments, car payments, financed furniture, whatever- start by paying off your smallest loan first. You can do it! Once the first one is gone, move on to the debt with the next smallest amount. Slowly and surely, you’ll have fewer and fewer debts to think about.  Your stress level will decrease as you get rid of these debts. This is actually called the Snowball Method of debt elimination and it works great for helping you feel more in control. Here’s a great Snowball Debt elimination calculator from NerdWallet to help you.

When I got hacked, I was determined not to let those imposters stop me from using social media.  It wasn’t that social media was so important to me because sometimes I feel like it’s a giant time waster. But for me, it was about taking back control. I reported the criminal activity to Facebook and Instagram, changed my passwords and set up a two-step authentication system for logging in. Suddenly, I felt like I’d won!

Imagine feeling like you’d ‘won’ over your finances! Take it step by step and you’ll feel confident and in-charge in no time.

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