December 20, 2017
December 20, 2017
Getting motivated about your money sounds like an impossible goal: who wants to learn about being financially responsible?
But if you’ve committed to learning more about money, you’re in for a long journey. Personal finance is something that impacts every area of your life. You can use it to make your life more fulfilling and rewarding or stay mired in bad habits.
Read below to see how to stay motivated, even when you feel like falling off the wagon.
Fixing your finances, like losing weight, is an uphill battle for most people. If you’ve spent years racking up credit card debt, not saving or blowing your windfalls, it can be hard to make a change. Even if you know what you’re supposed to do, implementing those changes can feel impossible.
Instead of beating yourself up, be compassionate when you mess up. It’s ok if you go over budget or if you grabbed Starbucks when you planned to drink coffee at home. All that matters is if you’re making progress.
Too often, we set ourselves up for failure even when we try to make positive changes in our lives. Setting big goals like “I will save 15% of my salary” or “I will cut my spending by $200 every month” can feel overwhelming and too big to tackle. Instead of making huge promises, try making small steps.
If you want to start a retirement account, then break down the goal into reasonable actions. One day you could research what your 401k options are, while the next you’ll look into what fees the funds charge.
Your goals should also be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. Instead of saying, “This year I’ll start saving for retirement,” try, “By the end of December 2017, I will have set up a 401k account and will be saving between 5 to 10% of my income toward retirement.”
Making changes is hard if you do it alone. Money is a taboo topic, and most people avoid sharing their financial fears.
But one of the best ways to get and stay motivated is to find a financial accountability partner who will help you stay on track. You can create rules like you’ll text each other before a major purchase or confess when you’ve reneged on a promise.
When I was trying to live on a lean budget, I realized how often I used money to make myself feel better. Like emotional eating, I was spending money to lift my spirits. When I was sad or upset, I’d go to Target and browse the aisles until I found something I wanted.
Once I set a budget, I realized I could no longer hide my emotions behind money. If I was feeling sad, I had to face it. If you’re using money as a crutch, I recommend finding more frugal ways to feel better. When I needed a pick-me-up, I would bake cookies, watch a movie I’d been dying to see (on Netflix) or read a favorite novel.
When you’re trying to lose weight, dieticians recommend you keep a food journal to track when you eat. If you’re trying to spend less, you can keep a money log where you write down what you spent.
Writing down your expenses and bills can give you a holistic look at your finances. Many of us get electronic statements and gloss over our credit card bill. No wonder we don’t know where our money goes.
Try tracking your money by hand for a month to see what you learn. Maybe you’ll be surprised at how much you spend on fast food, or maybe you realize that you routinely go over your gas budget.
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