4. Focus on Long-Term Financial Success
Rather than looking for short-cuts with instant results, finding financial success takes diligent effort with a long-term outlook. As famous football coach Vincent Lombardi once stated, “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Achieving financial success means increasing your level of financial literacy, investing in job-related education, and developing the skills to advance in your career. It means staying on top of your budget by tracking your spending periodically, saying “no” to yourself when you’d rather spend than make an extra credit card payment, and being vigilant when an offer sounds too good to be true.
There are no short-cuts for becoming a savvy money manager because what works for one person might not work for another. Go easy on yourself as you work on developing new habits that help you reach your goals. When you’re trying to implement daily changes, it can help to note your successes on a calendar, whether that’s physical or online. On each day you do that one specific thing (e.g. make your morning coffee at home), make a prominent mark on your calendar. Soon enough, you’ll have a streak that you won’t want to break. It won’t be long before your hard work has turned into a new habit!
5. Automate Personal Finance Habits
One of the best ways to manage your money is to have it manage itself. After all, thinking about everything you need to do all the time can be exhausting. This can lead to mental fatigue and by extension, poorer decision-making. Automating part of that work might mean something as straightforward as a programable thermostat and timers for lights in your home. It could mean setting up pre-authorized payments for all of your bills through your online banking system. Also set savings up to be transferred out of your chequing account the day you get paid. For financial commitments that don’t occur on a regular schedule, create calendar alerts for yourself so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting. Create a realistic budget with a paycheque plan and look for ways to put what you do regularly on autopilot. This will leave you with more time and energy to spend on making a life, not just a living.
6. Set Goals in a Way that Motivates You
Thinking about a personal financial goal can be great inspiration and will give you direction. But inspiration alone won’t help you achieve success – you also need motivation. Your motivation, however, will wane if you don’t shift your focus away from the big picture and onto the small, doable steps that will help you reach your goal. This is one of the key secrets behind the money habits of successful people. They focus on the actionable steps — what they can do today, tomorrow, and next week. They set interim goals to measure their progress. And while they keep their overall goal in mind, that’s not where they expend most of their energy. To an outsider, this may look like someone working paycheque to paycheque with little to spare. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
It takes daily effort to make choices that enable you to reach your goals. However, a strategy of go-big-or-go-home is tough when it comes to our finances. If putting every area of your life under a magnifying glass seems daunting, look to start by saving $10 or $20 a week with minor changes to a habit or two. Once you’re successful with a series of minor changes, move on to making bigger ones. If a change is too stressful, scale it back or abandon it altogether. Don’t deprive yourself of what you enjoy most. Focus instead on what you can do to turn your wishes into goals that you can successfully achieve.
How to Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T