Have you ever felt like you’re running in circles when it comes to your finances? Whether you are paying off debt or building up your savings, you often hit a point when you wonder what the heck it’s all for.
At the beginning of your journey, you’re inspired. You want to kick that debt or grow your net worth and are willing to do just about anything to get there. Then…the dreaded middle. Motivation starts to wane and the temptation of spending kicks into high gear. How come your friends get to have fun, and you’re stuck at home ‘saving money.’ Screw responsibility, I want a $16 craft cocktail…or four!
How do you get past that? I want to share a few tricks I’ve used to keep on plugging away even when the money struggle is real.
Remember The Plan
Something triggered you to get on this path, don’t forget what that something is. Write it down, hang it on your fridge, keep it in your inbox. A daily reminder of what your goals are will keep them front and center in your mind and make them easier to stick to.
A goal is only step one though. Equally important is a plan to reach that goal. Have $15k of debt to pay off? How exactly are you going to accomplish that and how long is it going to take? Or, want to save $15k in the next year? How much do you need to set aside from each pay cheque? Figuring out the plan and making it as automated as possible will allow you to use your brain power for the finish, instead of the process.
If the end date for your goal is way in the future, then it can be helpful to break it off into smaller chunks. Instead of focusing on paying off $100k of debt or increasing your net worth by $100k, think of it in $10k or even $1k segments. Veronika from Debts to Riches used chocolate coins as a visual representation of her debt payoff, and it’s way more powerful than just numbers on a spreadsheet!
So this is my profile picture taken in November 2017 vs. today July 2018. 8 months difference! $23,600 of student loan debt paid off. pic.twitter.com/S3gVDiPYWz
— Veronika | Debts To Riches (@DebtsToRiches) July 13, 2018
Being open about your goals will help people understand why you’re anti-spending. Tell your friends and family that you’re getting serious about your finances and ask them to keep you accountable. If they know you’ve got a good reason for staying in, they’ll be more likely to be a cheerleader instead of an opponent.
Even better, find one friend who’s on a similar path and make yourselves accountable to each other. You can talk yourself out of irresponsible spending and act as motivators. I completely get that it can be hard to talk about money with your friends. If you can’t think of someone to be your accountability buddy in real life, find an internet friend! The personal finance community is really welcoming and always happy to talk money.
Give In…A Little
In those initial days of getting serious about your money, it’s easy to go too hard too fast. You need to pace yourself. Take advantage of that motivation to create a balanced plan that will get you on track but also won’t leave you feeling deprived.
I’ve been there. More than once. It’s easy to say to yourself, sure, I can only go out to eat once a month, no problem. But if you’re used to eating out multiple times a week, that’s going to be one heck of a shock. Eliminating excess spending will get you to your goal faster, but there’s a balance between eliminating everything and only eliminating what’s really excess. For some people (me), allowing myself to still live my life makes it way easier to stick to the plan than cutting everything out cold turkey.
If you’re feeling deprived by your budget, then it’s time to do some adjusting. You should always have at least some money allocated for fun. If you don’t, get on it, if you do then maybe increase it a bit and see if that’s more comfortable. At the end of the day, are a few extra months of saving worth being miserable?
Limit The Noise
‘Temptation is the root of all evil.’ You’ve heard that one right? It’s definitely true when it comes to your money.
I don’t have the greatest self-control in the world. It’s a problem. But, it’s something I know about myself, so I can do something about it. I rarely keep junk food in the house because I know I’ll end up eating it. All of it. In one sitting. I’ll also buy things I don’t need because there’s an oh so great sale. To limit that I take away the temptation. I don’t subscribe to store email lists, I don’t aimlessly browse the clearance section of Amazon or Wayfair, and I ask myself if I’m spending for the right reasons.
Limiting access to my own spending triggers helps me save money and ensures I’m only buying the things I actually need. There’s nothing wrong with shopping, just make sure you’re mindful about it!
Have you ever hit a wall when it comes to paying off debt or saving money? Share your story and what you did to push through in the comments!
This post was proofread by Grammarly.