Did you empower your money story last week? If you skipped over that lesson and onto this one, you’re doing it wrong. Go back and empower your money story here, first! Trust me on this: Nothing will feel good or make sense financially until your make sense and feel good about your finances.

As I mentioned before, one of my first obstacles in the way of feeling good about my money was to actually figure out how much was coming in, and then figure out how much was going out, where the hell it was even going, and most importantly why it was going there. I’m not just talking about paying the bills, but looking more closely at the bills and each individual transaction. Was the money being disbursed each month worth it?

My first step to figure out the worth was to acknowledge the difference between spending and investing. The difference is substantial. The thing is, we do both and they are both acceptable and nothing to feel bad, guilty or ashamed about. The real lesson here is being aware of the difference and making decisions in your own (and your business’, if you have one) best interest.  

When it comes to spending, it is simply money being disbursed; it is a transaction that does not offer long-term worth or the opportunity to create more money or value in the transaction. When you invest, you are doing so with the intent to build wealth through this disbursement. Basically, you are not losing money when investing, but securing a means of getting the money back, plus some. 

Now, there are really no carved in stone rules when it comes to investing and spending (your financial advisor may disagree, but remember, they are also taking your money). It is up to you to look at your monthly budget and figure out what was an investment versus what was just spending. For example, one nice pair of heels last month was an investment in myself. I truly believe that looking presentable and taking pride in my appearance pays off. I feel good, confident and empowered when attending events, meetings or speaking engagements. Was the 2nd pair an investment last month? For me, no, it was just unnecessary spending which in reality was not the wisest decision for me.  And what about that trip to the Dominican Republic with my man? After over a year of nonstop 60+ hour workweeks and no vacations, this was an investment in our relationship and a reward for our hard work. As for the impulse purchase of a Groupon trip to Cabo a couple months later… well, you get the picture.

Although as you can see some of my financial transactions may not be the best, it is solely up to you to justify your own. Maybe that second trip or pair of shoes was an investment for you. Maybe you have a full closet and really can’t justify any of it. Look at your budget and look at each individual transaction you have made and ones that you plan to make and consider these two questions:

1.  Will this transaction bring more value to my life/business?

2.  If yes, “How much?” (Get specific here.)

     If no, then ask yourself “Would it be best to save or invest this money instead?”

Moving forward, I highly suggest you consider those questions before you write the check, swipe the card or hand over the Benjamins. Is this transaction going to pay off? What value are you receiving from the money dispersed? If you put those new$500 shoes on your already maxed-out credit card because you just have to have them, it is likely not in your best interest to do so. (Sorry, sister-I feel your pain.) However, even when money is tight, investing $500 in a business coach or online course may be a perfect investment to help you increase your income in your business or career.

When you are budgeting each month decide how much you can invest in yourself and how much you can spend.  These numbers will change over time, especially as you learn to invest more wisely and start reaping the benefits of each investment. Although investments can be a risky or “scary” do remember this: the higher the risk, the higher the reward.  And guess what, the better you invest in yourself now, the more you will be able to spend later.

This week: Analyze your transactions for this month so far: Which transactions are spending? Which are investing? Go through your statements and highlight each type of transaction to get a better feel for which ones are adding more value to your life and/or business and which ones aren’t. Make this part of your regular relationship with money and set a monthly goal or budget for yourself for each category.

If you’re still feeling icky and don’t want to face this week’s task, go back to week one again and reaffirm your empowered money story. The more empowered you feel about your relationship with money, the easier this task will get. Accept where you are in this process and realize that where you are today is okay and it's all part of your path towards money love and clarity.