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Join Chelsea's free workshop HOW TO BUDGET AN UNPREDICTABLE INCOME here:

Through bi-weekly video essays, "Making It Work" showcases how *real* people have upgraded their personal or financial lives in some meaningful way. Making your life work for you doesn't mean getting rich just for the sake of it. It means making the most of what you have to build a life you love, both in your present and in your future. And while managing money is a crucial life skill for everyone, there's no one "right way" to go about it — you have to figure out what works best for *you,* full stop.

Video by Grace Lee

Written by Maya Fleming:

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Not to preempt myself, but I have a free thing to tell you guys about that I'm doing.

I'm extremely excited to share this it is a completely free workshop hosted by yours truly because we all love free stuff. Basically, every time we do a video about budgeting, saving, building wealth, investing, et cetera, we inevitably get tons of comments that are some version of, OK, but what if I don't have a regular paycheck every two weeks and my income varies?

And honestly, you guys honestly have a point. So I am finally hosting a free deep dive workshop, How To Budget An Unpredictable Income on October 13 at 6:30 PM Eastern time for people whose income is unpredictable or varies all about how to get good with money. You can join live or watch the recording, plus you get a live Q&A with me, a workbook, and tons of other goodies RSVP at the link below.

And remember, it is totally free baby. There's a link to sign up in the description. Click it, click it.

Years ago, I had an amazing opportunity to study abroad in Australia. But shortly after arrival, I had a health scare that cost me thousands of dollars. Suddenly, I was on a new continent unable to work and very, very broke.

Desperate, I scoured the internet looking for solutions to miracles, and I fell into the dark hole of self-help and manifestation. For those not in the know, manifestation is the idea that you can make something happen by thinking it into existence. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of self-improvement and learning.

But my pursuit of answers in the world of self-help sent me down a terrible spiral. I would be depressed about being broke, find a self-help book or manifestation course, then spend the last of my money or money I didn't have to find the secret to success and happiness that I was going after. For the next couple of weeks, I might feel inspired but I rarely took any real action to create positive change.

I still felt stuck in my situation and overwhelmed with the idea of transforming my life because my self-worth and sense of purpose were depleting. Afterward, I feel dejected again and I'd find myself as a target of. A different self-help resource my financial situation did a number on my sense of self-worth and self-confidence and made me feel like a failure.

Self-help feeds on this insecurity. It was easy for self-help ads and course descriptions to make me feel like I was fundamentally flawed and needed the material to have any chance at fixing myself. Then, because I was so convinced that I was a failure, I couldn't bring myself to do any of the actual work required to make a difference in my life.

I couldn't stick to a budget, follow through on plans, or anything else the book suggested until I worked on my mindset first. Self-help books often ignore the mindset piece so that you always feel stuck and worthless, and, as a result, continue to buy products. I had to learn that self-help materials didn't serve to fix me and that I was already gifted enough to create a great life for myself.

Once, , I focused on building my confidence and finding small wins I was able to more carefully discern which self-help purchases would actually help me to improve and teach me new skills. Not all self-help is bad for you. Some of it actually is helpful.

But now before buying any new material, , I follow a series of steps. Number one, I define my desired outcome. Before taking a new course or purchasing a new self-help book, I asked myself what will this help me to accomplish.

It's important that I get specific about my desired results. Will I develop tangible skills to be happier? I gain an income stream?

For me, it isn't enough to just feel empowered or have my heart warm temporarily. If I can't name what the purchase will bring me, it isn't right. Number two, I take inventory of my current resources.

After I defined my desired outcome I think about the resources and information that is already available to me, like my local library. Even if my library doesn't have the book at their location, they may be able to find it or there may be an online version I can access with my library membership. Libraries also often offer memberships to online learning platforms at no cost.

Before paying for anything, I make sure to look for material available for free. Number three, I'm honest about my progress. The last reflection step is probably the most important for me.

Have I really given the free resources a shot? Have I been consistent and long enough to really see positive effects? Because much of my issue with self-help material comes from a lack of confidence, it's important that I prove my ability to myself first.

If I'm truly ready for an investment, that's great. Still, I have to hold myself countable. Number four, I pay close attention to past customer reviews and refund policies.

In the past, I would be so sure that a certain book or course would solve all my problems that I would ignore any negative feedback, or I wouldn't look into feedback at all. Just like any other purchase, it's a good idea to read the reviews before buying. Think critically about them to determine whether the reviewers concerns apply to you and go from there.

Also, pay attention to the refund policies for the course or material. What happens if you're unhappy with the purchase? How much time, if any, do you have to request a refund?

Take note of the dates and record them so you don't miss the deadlines. Number five, I set up a sinking fund and safe. Finally, if I truly believe that a purchase is aligned with my goals, I buy it.

However, I make myself wait for the purchase by setting up a sinking fund and saving for it. I sleep on it for a month or so, saving a portion of the cost each week. It's not uncommon for me to realize that after saving I have a better use for the extra money in the fund.

After finishing a new book or course, I reflect heavily on what I learned and commit to applying those lessons in my life before even considering a new purchase. Since using these strategies, I've been very happy with the results and proud of the changes I've seen. I still come across a dud every now and then, but I feel much better about asking for course refunds or leaving constructive feedback because I know I did what I could to make it work for me.

The most important lesson I've learned is that I already possess whatever it takes to improve my life. The secrets are not hidden in the pages of something else's book or waiting for me in a course about connecting to the universe. Those things can inspire and teach when you're in the right headspace, but you can be resourceful enough to make it without them.