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

I spent the bulk of my 20’s trying hard not to think too much about money. I was working super hard and was fortunate that I had enough to cover my rent and other responsibilities. But college loans and other daily expenses were substantial enough that I felt like a hamster on a treadmill. I was worried that I needed to keep running as fast as I could or my finances might come crashing down around me. I knew I should take the time to organize my finances to figure out if I could take my foot off the gas and relax a little. Or even see if I should find ways to spend less. Instead, I acted like an ostrich and put my head in the sand and hoped I would be okay if I just stayed on that treadmill working harder and harder.

When my firm laid everyone off and closed its doors, it seemed like a disaster really hit. I couldn’t ignore the situation any longer. Fortunately, I had enough in savings to cover myself while I relocated to take a new job, but I knew I had to face the facts and plan for my future. At the time I felt like I was feeling my way through in the dark.

Money is a tricky topic too. It’s easier to chat with your friends about your relationship woes than your financial concerns. After a few months, I got things mostly sorted out and realized that it’s more important to know where you stand instead of worrying. However, I haven’t taken a hard look at things in a while. With that in mind, I jumped at the chance to try  SunTrust’s onUp Challenge.  SunTrust’s onUp Movement helps people get the resources, tips, and information to take charge of their financial situation and gain financial confidence in return. When you feel confident about your financial situation, you can make choices and plans that really align with your goals rather than running like a hamster.

More than just articles and videos, the onUp Challenge sets up actionable steps you can take to achieve financial confidence. Starting is easy. The Values Challenge comes first. Here, you’ll define what you value in your life and what matters most. In a few clicks, I narrowed my priorities: I value spending time with friends and family and time outside.  I also considered how my priorities had changed since my twenties when having the “right” on-trend jeans in my closet seemed so important. Before moving on to my finances, the onUp Challenge offered up some tips on how to achieve my goal of spending quality time with friends and family. This helped me think critically about what all my hard work was for if I was frequently sacrificing walks outside.

With that in the back of my mind, I moved on to explore the onUp Challenge’s 7 Magical Lands. Each land is filled with advice, tools, challenges, and inspiration. An Action Checklist is a part of each level. As a side note, when I research something I can lose sight of the reasons why and next steps to meet that goal. In the onUp Challenge when you are done reading about a specific topic, you go right back to the action steps so you can’t forget what you’ve learned.

In Land 1: Confidence Clearing you’ll tackle creating an emergency savings account and different accounts that align with your goals for the future. I was happy to see I had already taken care of some items but empowered to clear the decks and get even more on top of things.

As the calendar turns over into 2018, it was great to create a financial path for my family and me that more closely aligned with our goals. If I put “get my finances in shape” as a line item on my to-do list, it would be far too overwhelming even to consider. However, with it all broken down into action steps within the challenge I am finding it easy to chip away at the larger goal with each action step. For years now I’ve been meaning to automate some bills and figure out what to do with my financial records that I have stored away. Both of these tasks were action items on the onUp Challenge, so I checked this off my list by immediately taking care of this.

Whether you’re focused on creating a budget, buying a home or saving for retirement, The onUp Challenge there to help you do all of those things with a whole lot of confidence. Anyone can benefit from the financial tools in The onUp Challenge no matter where you are on your financial journey. The purpose of SunTrust’s onUp Movement is to help light the way to financial well-being. Its goal is to help you get organized, make a plan, and stay on track so you can get and stay in control of your finances. When you are confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly, and never lose sight of the things that matter most to you.

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