Starting a new chapter in life might be scary, yet it's a necessary journey that we all go through. After all, life is about making progress and moving forward. And that comes with change.
Whether the change is moving to a new city or working toward a new financial goal, we’ll all start something new in life that we’ll have to prepare for.
Sometimes these changes are by circumstance. Other times they’re by choice. Either way, it’s ok to start over and experience something new.
What does it mean to start a new chapter in life and why is it important?
Starting a new chapter is symbolic of the decision to do things differently. This decision is often marked by a significant date or event– like starting new goals on January 1st.
A new chapter is important because it is a sign of growth. It means that we’re ready to progress to something that will make us better.
So how can you really know when it's time to begin a new chapter in your life and finances?
When to start a new chapter in your life and finances
There are four common signs that it’s probably time to start a new chapter, specifically in your finances.
You’re feeling stuck
The feeling of being stuck is a great indicator that it’s time to do things differently.
For example, you may be stuck financially due to debt and past money decisions. This could mean that you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can’t break out of the cycle.
In order to no longer be stuck, you’ll need to start a new chapter of managing your finances differently. This means changing your financial habits and no longer doing things the way you’ve done them in the past.
You want more out of your life
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more in life. So, when you have this feeling it’s a sign to start a new chapter.
For instance, you may want to travel, buy a home, or even afford to buy luxury items.
If you’re currently not able to afford those things, a new chapter could mean starting a new job to increase your income or beginning a minimalist lifestyle.
It's the natural progression in your life
There are natural progressions that happen in life that initiate new chapters. For instance, graduating from college or becoming an empty nester.
Both of these may have a significant effect on your finances that you’ll need to account for.
Graduating from college may be the start of student loan repayments. While becoming an empty nester may result in downsizing your home.
Each of these life progressions is a new chapter in your life and finances.
You’ve experienced significant life changes
Just as you’ll experience natural progressions in life, you’ll also experience significant life changes.
Some examples include:
- Getting married
- Having a baby
- Getting a divorce
- Experiencing the death of a loved one
These significant changes will require you to start a new chapter in your finances.
For instance, getting married may mean combining your finances and managing money with your partner. While getting a divorce means starting a new chapter of handling your finances independently.
Although some life changes aren’t ideal, they can be the starting point for a positive new chapter.
Whatever your reason for starting a new chapter, here’s what you need to do.
7 Steps to starting a new chapter in life and in your finances
There are many different reasons why you may be starting a new chapter in your life. Nonetheless, the process for making any change will be the same no matter what.
There are seven important steps that you should take if you truly want to start over. Following these steps will ensure that you don't fall back into past patterns or behaviors.
1. Reflect on where you currently are
Every change begins with reflection. This is where you recognize where you currently are in your finances and life in general.
Here’s how to determine where you are, financially.
- List out all of your financial assets and their current value. This includes bank accounts, investments, and real estate property.
- List out all of your debts and their amounts.
- Write down how much income you’re currently earning.
- Layout your current expenses and review your spending.
This will give you an overall picture of your financial state. Next, review this information and determine what you want to change.
2. Determine what you want to do in the future
The whole point of starting a new chapter is to experience life differently. But in order to do so, you must get clear on what you want that experience to be.
This requires that you really sit down and think about where you'd like to be in your life and finances. Without this guiding light, you may find yourself repeating old habits that will keep you where you are.
Be very clear with this so that you can create specific goals for yourself.
3. Write down your plan
Once you know what this new chapter in life will look like, it’s time to plan.
Planning is a matter of determining the steps necessary for getting from where you're at to where you really want to be.
For instance, you can create a financial plan that includes:
- Your new budget
- A savings plan
- A debt repayment plan
- An investment strategy
- A risk mitigation plan (ex. Insurance coverage, will, estate plan, etc.)
Your plan should clearly lay out exactly what you will do on a continuous basis in order to achieve the goals that you set for yourself.
4. Take daily actions toward your goals
It’s not enough to write your plan down. You actually have to execute it by taking daily actions. Change and progress come from what we do on a daily basis.
It’s not always easy to change our habits, though. That’s why putting systems in place helps make sure that you are making progress toward your goals.
Some systems that you can leverage include automating aspects of your finances. For example, you can automate your savings, bill payments, and even your investments.
You can also time block and add reminders to your digital calendar to do things like updating your budget so that you don’t forget.
Doing so ensures that you are taking action toward your goals and according to your plan without having to think about it!
5. Get support & accountability
Change can be hard to navigate alone. So enlisting accountability and support is important.
Whether that’s family, friends, or even an online community—having other people who support you in your new chapter will help make the change easier.
Thankfully, Clever Girl Finance has a community of women who are eager to support you as you start a new chapter in your finances!
6. Invest in learning
If you haven’t made investing in learning a part of your plan, then it should be! Starting a new chapter in life will require you to have completely new skills and knowledge that you didn’t have before.
The good news is that learning doesn’t have to be expensive. Simply reading articles like this, books, or listening to podcasts can help equip you with the skills and knowledge that you need to be successful.
So what do you need to learn for this new chapter in your life?
7. Give yourself grace
The most essential thing that you can do as you start a new chapter in your life is to give yourself grace. Change is hard and it's likely that you will make mistakes or even fall back into bad habits.
If this happens, be kind to yourself. Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, pick back up where you left off in your plan and move forward.
It's also a great idea to reflect on what happened to cause you to get off track so that you don't make those same mistakes again.
Begin your new chapter in life today!
Remember that it’s ok to start over with a new chapter in life—especially with your finances.
The great news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Whether it's starting your new chapter of getting out of debt, starting a new career, or even just getting started with budgeting, we have resources to help you.