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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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