Last Monday I asked whether or not you were ready to tackle your personal finances.
Here’s the truth. Keeping track of your personal finances – setting goals, making a budget, sticking to it – is hard work. Its not even a lot of fun or enjoyable most of the time. You’re not going to want to do it once a week or even once a month. But you should. In addition, staying motivated is incredibly difficult. Especially after you screw up and buy something you shouldn’t, or when you try really hard but don’t see any progress.
Staying motivated is tough. Here are six ways I motivate myself to achieve my financial goals.
Look At The Past
1. Use a Spending Record
Using my spending record, I look and where I spent my money over the last month or two. This usually achieves one of two results. I either am encouraged, because I can see how much progress I am making, or I am angered, because I see how much money I’ve wasted. Sure, I get hungry at work and want a sandwich, but six or seven sandwiches over a month can really add up, and all of a sudden I’m not saving money, I’m wasting it. By recognizing areas of improvement, I increase the chance that I’m going to take action.
2. Write out Your Foolish Past
Want to get motivated? Write out how you got to where you are today. Trent from The Simple Dollar did just this, outlining his road to financial Armageddon. So take some time, get out pen and paper or open a word processing document, and remember. Remember your stupidest financial mistakes, the mindset that you used to have. Take stock of all the problems of the past. Why? “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Look At The Present
3. Compare Your Purchases to Your Past and Your Future
Whenever you are about to buy something that is not essential, pause for a moment and consider whether this purchase is something you would have bought in the past, and whether or not you wish to continue purchasing it in the future. In your past, you made poor financial decisions. Could this purchase be one of them? In the future, you want to achieve great things, spend less money, earn more income. Would the person of your future purchase this item? If not, if your future self wouldn’t, then put it down now. Comparing your present self to your past and future selves will allow you to see what direction you are headed in.
4. Find and Emulate a Role Model
Who has what you want? Whether its financial freedom, a sense of thrift, or the job of your dreams, find who has what you want, and copy what they do. Every day, remind yourself of this person, and take one small step to becoming more like them. Do you want to spend less money? Find someone who spends less money than you, and emulate them. They have nothing special, there is no magic formula. They are just doing actions that help them achieve their goals – so copy them, and you’ll achieve your goals too.
Look At The Future
5. Plan Long-Term Goals
If you are expecting to completely change yourself overnight, you will fall short. Then you will lose motivation, and give up. So don’t expect yourself to become a frugal and thrifty genius overnight. Don’t give up that goal – but set a reasonable expectation of progress. Don’t plan on cutting $1000 from your budget overnight. It’s too difficult a goal. Instead, shave $50 from your budget this month, and another $50 the next. Small victories will help you stay motivated over the long term.
6. Remind Yourself of Your Goals
What is your goal? What are you saving for? There are plenty of techniques that can be used to remind yourself of your goals, and by remembering what you’re saving for, you’ll be less likely to spend. You can sleeve your debit cards, or put a picture of your dream vacation spot on the fridge. You can read about your dream retirement as a retired millionaire, or simply repeat a mantra of “I want to be debt free” every morning. Remind yourself of your ideal future, and the saving will become easy.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Like this post? Subscribe to Saving For Serenity to have all the latest posts deliever directly to you.