Tired of all the chatter from friends, family and media about the importance of good financial habits? Ready to get your financial house in order, but wish you knew more about how to develop a plan of your own?
You’re in luck! Developing a weekly money routine is easier than it may sound. Get started with these easy tips. (Bonus! You can implement them all today.)
1. Think “routine,” not “resolution.”
Healthy financial habits are not about drafting more resolutions as likely to fail as anything else you promise each New Year. Instead they’re about building just that — habits. Start by shifting your thinking from an immediate push for a quick fix to debt or other financial woes, and focus instead on creating routines that allow you to strengthen your financial position every time you take out your wallet. Slow change can be lasting change.
2. Learn The Secret.
Millions of people around the world are strong adherents to the Law of Attraction, which generally states that what you think about most is what you will attract. Instead of focusing on debt and the negative emotions that come with it — such as despair, hopelessness, frustration, impatience, or envy — focus with a positive attitude on your efforts to obtain, earn, or attract more money. Be proud of your efforts, and allow the process to keep you calm and centered as you work your way out of debt and into a better financial future.
3. Get real — with yourself.
How and why is money important to you? Is money, or lack thereof, keeping you in a job or living situation that you do not like or is not safe? Do you wish you had a romantic partner who earned more? While your first thought may be that you would party like a rockstar given the funding, for most folks, that simply is not part of the fantasy. Really think about what you want, and how much it costs. Do you want a private school education for your children? A safer neighborhood? The funds for a dog or other pets? Leisure to take two trips a year? Do you know how much each of these things costs? Do the research and write down your goal; make that goal as specific as possible.
4. Sketch it out.
Part of your candid assessment is how you spend. Do you buy coffee every morning at five bucks a pop? Do you get your nails done once a month? Do you tend to spend a lot of money when one of your friends has a birthday? Do you blow your budget in November and December on holiday temptations? Do you even have a budget?
There is no wrong answer here, but you can’t change where you’re going until you know clearly where you are. Break out a pocket calendar, and sketch out how you spend. This does not have to be specific, but you want to think in enough detail to be able to identify trends. Is there a particular sport that when in season finds you buying drinks in bars more often to watch it? Do you avoid the summer heat or winter cold, and end up splurging on movies and other indoor entertainment? Is happy hour regularly expected by your boss or co-workers?
5. Trim your own fat.
Your money is yours, your priorities are yours, and your lifestyle choices are yours. Take a look at your spending sketch and question yourself about why you spend the way that you do. Do you really enjoy those happy hours, or do you need to stand up to your cubicle mates and only go once a month? Does your family expect, need, or want piles of gifts each holiday season, or do you buy them to alleviate the guilt of not visiting enough during the rest of the year?
Sometimes, the answer is as simple as, “I like that activity, that is part of my lifestyle, and it makes me happy/relaxes me/I enjoy it.” Great! Mark those items as important. You will likely find that you can trim the fat from things that you feel obligated to do, without having to sacrifice what you truly enjoy and want to spend your hard-earned funds pursuing.
6. Measure your success.
Set a monetary goal for every week of the next three months, based on your calendar. Maybe it’s spending $10 less every time you go out; maybe it’s going out less; it could be finding the strength to avoid holiday sales; maybe it’s putting money aside from your paycheck immediately. Perhaps it’s all of those things, one for each week of the month. Be specific. Write each goal down. At the conclusion of each week, note your successes and areas that were more difficult. Be sure to note partial successes, too — if you saved $5 when your goal was $10, that’s still progress. At the conclusion of three months, evaluate your goals — are they consistently realistic? Can you be more ambitious?
7. Ask around, and share ideas.
Think you’re alone in your pursuit of wealth? Everyone is trying to accumulate more of the green stuff. Talk to your friends about your goals, and ask if they have any ideas for ways to save money. Pay particular attention to those who live in your area and have similar lifestyle patterns, because their tips and tricks are already proven.
Over time you will become more comfortable with your new weekly routine. Remember to revisit and update your goals frequently, and enjoy the abundance that comes your way.
Ready to learn more about financial goal setting? Check out these 13 Basic Rules to Grow your Wealth Effectively.
Featured photo credit: www.seniorliving.org via flickr.com