This post was sponsored, and paid for, by SunTrust. All opinions are my own.


With the new year just around the corner, we’re all starting to think about our financial goals. Well, at least we should be! Even if it isn’t a new year, there’s no time like now to start improving our financial situation. No matter where you are in your financial journey — whether paying off debt, saving for a home or figuring out an investment strategy — you need to have a plan. Don’t let another paycheck come and go without having a plan for your dollar bills!

The start of making yourself a successful financial plan is determining what your values are. The next step is taking specific and defined action on those values. Knowing that you’re putting your hard-earned money towards what really matters to you instead of tossing it down the drain inspires financial confidence you really can’t get anywhere else.

The Values Challenge

If you want to know what matters to you, start by signing up for the onUp Challenge. This fun, gamified experience by SunTrust kicks off with the Values Challenge. While you might think you already know what your values are, selecting them in this step helps to focus your financial plan. Taking this step really puts it into perspective when you compare those values to your budget! It’s truly the best way to figure out if your money is really going to what you want it to.

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On my own journey, I discovered that my core values are Health/Wellness, Inner Peace/Spirituality, and Career. At this point in my life, this is what I’m focused on and makes perfect sense to me. Spending time fitting in a workout and stretching are part of my daily goals. Making time for self-care on weekly basis is also critically important to me — I can’t do my best work if I’m not taking care of myself. And finally, growing my career and creating passive income streams is truly my priority right now so that I can have more freedom in the future. Knowing that I’m taking these steps now makes me feel confident that I will achieve those goals.

Money talk can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Taking that power back is as simple as educating ourselves and making the best decisions possible. It’s up to you to figure out what your next step will be.

The Next Step

SunTrust has made it simple to figure out what your next step is going to be. Going through the 7 Magical Lands (Confidence Clearing, Organization Oasis, Lender’s Ledge, Risky River, Wealth Waterfall, Home Buying Hollow, and Happiness Heights) and checking off the Action Checklists as you go.

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Moving into my late twenties, the Magical Land that appealed to me the most was Wealth Waterfall. With my budget under control and debts paid off, it’s investments that I’m focused on learning about now. In our twenties, time is on our side when it comes to the growth of our investments over time — as they say, “Investments are for the future, not to get rich quick.”

In “The ‘sleep test” section of Wealth Waterfall, there is a quote from Joe Sicchitano, Senior Vice President and Head of Wealth Planning and Advice Delivery for SunTrust that discusses taking a holistic approach to your finances:

Sometimes people will treat financial planning like it’s compartmentalized when in fact, it’s not. Good financial planning is like construction. For example, if you just build blocks one on top of the other, you can build really tall structures, but they’re not stable. If you look at a building, the bricks are typically staggered and laid out in a different structure because the strength of one brick lends itself to the strength of another brick. Weakness from one brick is offset by strength in another. That’s what financial planning is actually like, and good decision-making means asking how each decision will impact other areas.

Moving forward, this reminds me that the money I earn, save, spend, and invest is all intertwined. The way I treat each of these will impact all of them in my long-term plan. My goals this year is to make sure every aspect of my finances passes the “sleep test” and assess the level of risk across my finances so I can sleep soundly and not worry about my financial future.

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Finding Your Financial Confidence

Through paying down student loans to planning for retirement, financial confidence has always been something we encourage here at GenTwenty. The onUp Movement has a similar agenda. SunTrust launched The onUp Challenge encourages you to take action towards that financial confidence. While each of our journeys is unique and personal, there are specific steps we can take to achieve financial freedom on our own terms, living by our own values.

Going through the Magical Lands of the challenge, you’ll figure out exactly what your next step needs to be so you can start putting your money and time to work to achieve that goal. Use the retirement calculator to figure out how much you’ll need to save to be comfortable in your later years and calculate your net worth so you know exactly where you stand. Education is key for financial freedom.

If you haven’t already, sign up for the onUp Challenge here to get started taking your finances to the next level in 2018. You won’t regret it.