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How to Improve your Finances in 4 Easy Steps

How to Improve your Finances in 4 Easy Steps

Managing your finances can suck. Some days you feel like you’re going broke, and other days you feel like you’re doing pretty well. It can be a roller coaster ride. It doesn’t really matter how much money you have, or don’t have, what matters is your attitude toward your finances. Do you want to improve this area of your life? If you do, it’s going to take some work. You don’t have to be Donald Trump, you just have to understand how the small things you do can lead you to greater overall financial success.

So what do you need to know to improve your financial prowess? Here are a few ideas.

Educate Yourself

My husband passed away 2 years ago. He was a very successful businessman and he handled all the finances. I knew nothing. When he died, my son stepped in to help me manage things, all the while encouraging me to educate myself on financial matters. I had zero interest. I’m a writer, therapist and a radio show host. My excuse was “My brain just doesn’t work well with financial stuff.” The truth is, I just don’t like it, but I still had to educate myself.

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I had to start doing things I never did before, and in the process I felt more confident I could handle things. I had to learn about Mutual Funds, IRAs, stocks, annuities, selling property, buying property, and how to maximize savings.

If I can do it anyone can! Remember, knowledge brings power and power brings change. Educating yourself is easy. My son taught me a lot, but you can read articles, Google topics, take a class, or talk to your banker or an investment person you trust.

Be SMART

Setting goals in life is important. Statistics prove that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them.  Using the acronym SMART can help you stay on track.  This means your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Let’s say your goal is to pay off some debt. Don’t simply say you’re going pay off debt. Make a specific list of who needs to be paid, how much will it cost you monthly, what obstacles stand in the way, and who is going to help you with a loan, a budget, or whatever else you need to make this happen.

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Make your decision to act an informed one. Do your due diligence. Look for something that will provide you with measurable results. If I pay x amount of money to pay off my car loan, in a year I’ll have all that extra money to save. Make sure your plan is attainable. In other words, if you take out a loan to payoff your debt, make sure you can structure the payments so that you can manage them. Be realistic. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, even if you are trying to pay off debts. Finally, everything has its time. If you’re in a financial pinch, realize it may take time to straighten out your finances. You probably didn’t get into debt overnight, and you won’t get out overnight either. Steady the course.

Simplify

Let’s face it, most of us have way too much. If you take an honest look at your life, there are probably things you have that you don’t use, things that are costing you money that could be better used, or invested elsewhere. Take a survey of your bills. Maybe you can cut out cable, stop using credit cards, cancel that gym membership you don’t use, or stop eating out for a while. Maybe you can even sell some stuff on Craigslist and make some money.

Simplicity is an attitude or mindset that begins inwardly and is reflected in an outward lifestyle. We can say we want a simpler life, but unless we’re convinced we need one, cultivating a less complicated life will elude us. A simple life is a free life. It sets money and possessions in the proper place with the proper perspective. It keeps “things,” or the drive for worldly pursuits from ruling over us. It enlarges our capacity for gratefulness and sharing.

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Notice

How is all the stress and disorganization of your financial situation affecting you? You have to identify the problem before you can do something about it; to do that you have to pay close attention to what is weighing you down financially. Start by making a list of what you notice is controlling you, or stressing you out in regard to your finances. Then notice your behavioral patterns in relationship to that stress. What do you do? Do you stress spend? If so, get in the habit of taking 60 seconds before you buy something and ask yourself why you need this item. If you can’t justify it—don’t do it.

How does your financial stress affect other aspects of your life? What do you notice?

Small things like paying attention to how much you spend, versus how much you save, can really help. Survey what you spend on things that add no real benefit to your life. Financial success doesn’t have to mean you become rich, what it means is you are in control, you are stress free, you are comfortable, you are learning and growing, and you are happy!

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Improving our financial status is something all of us should desire. Start today by becoming a noticer. Remember, you don’t have to solve all your financial problems in a day, a week, or a month. It’s all about moving forward with a solid plan and specific goals.

Featured photo credit: Bing images via bing.com

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Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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