4 Ways to Determine You’re Making Progress in Your Finances (and Life)


I completed my undergraduate degree last month. I’ve served five years in the military, traveled to different countries, and started pursuing freelance writing. So why do I still feel I’m not doing enough in my life most of the time? Every day I’m bombarded with thoughts of not having enough money saved, not being further in my career, not working enough on a side hustle, blah, blah, blah.

I have friends who echo my thoughts of feeling their life accomplishments aren’t good enough. This way of thinking is counterproductive. I think it’s time we shift the conversation to acknowledge the great things we are doing. When you get overwhelmed at how “behind” you are in life, focus instead on how you’re winning. If you’re implementing some of these tactics, you may be further along than you think.

You’re Following Your Passion

My love for writing started as a toddler. My mother used to write, and I liked to imitate anything she did. This caused me to begin scribbling with my own pen and pad. By my teenage years, I was writing short stories and even started a novel. Moving into adulthood, life happened, and I focused on getting any job to make ends meet, but my passion never left. When I started this blog last year, my mentor congratulated me on the accomplishment.

“Most people just talk about their dreams,” she said. “You actually made yours come true.”

I never thought of it that way, but she made a good point. We often think pursuing a passion can only be recognized if we’re making millions from it. Taking the step to make it come to life in any aspect is admirable. And as redundant as it sounds, if you follow your passion, the money will come.

You Pay Bills On Time

When you have OCD about handling business like yours truly, taking care of responsibilities becomes second nature. If you pause for a second, you’ll realize what a rare breed you are. Some people don’t have the desire to pay bills when they can spend that money on something more gratifying. I’m not telling you to throw shade at those who legitimately don’t have enough to cover the basics. Just be sure to give yourself kudos for having discipline to adult, even when you don’t want to.

You Make Saving a Priority

Another adult-y thing that’s surprisingly ignored by many, is stashing away money for a rainy day. I was shocked to find that nearly half of Americans don’t have $400 saved for an emergency. And here I am beating myself up because I don’t have a $10k nest egg. Again, you don’t want to use comparisons as a self-esteem booster but making saving non-negotiable—even if it’s only a few dollars a paycheck—is kind of a big deal.

You’re Okay With Your Spending Habits

Is a coffee run part of your weekly (or daily) routine? Do you indulge in takeout on the weekends when you feel lazy? If so, congratulations, you’re a human being with random and unexplained wants! “Splurging” is often seen as a negative, especially in the growing online personal finance community. When the spotlight is on the frugal extremists who went a whole month without spending money, there’s often an unspoken pressure on everyone else to refrain from any non-essential purchases.

You know you’re making progress when you don’t deprive yourself of small pleasures to impress strangers on the internet. We all have areas we can scale back on in life. Scaling back too much will make you feel dead inside. When bills are paid, you’re paying off debt, and saving, you make the stop for coffee…and don’t feel guilty for doing so.

Shifting Your Mindset is Key

It’s tough living in a society that chastises you for not being ambitious enough if you haven’t bought a house, luxury car, and snagged a six-figure salary before 30. Let’s be real. Life has twists and turns that devastate the best of us. You can’t control the circumstances that throw you off course. What you can control is your response and what you do to get yourself back in the game.

As hard as it may be, PLEASE stop second-guessing your dopeness. If your goal is to buy a house in a year and you’re cleaning up your credit, you’re already accomplishing the goal! The house keys may not physically be in your possession, but they will be. Don’t panic over not being at step #10 when you haven’t finished steps #1-9.

Featured Image: Nappy for Pexels

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