Impulsive spending has happened to us all at one time or another – it may be a once in a while occurrence for some, but it can be a permanent habit for others. In light of Singles Awareness Day, we’re traveling down the road of our financial mishaps so we can finally forgive ourselves for our past mistakes. So how do you get on the road to self-redemption? It’s actually easier than you think.
Recognize previous spending behaviors and forgive yourself in the process
Did you buy that brand new car or spend more than you originally budgeted for on that house? Maybe it’s not this drastic for some – your challenge may be eating out daily or grabbing a latte multiple times throughout the day or spending excessive amounts of money on entertainment. No matter how far fetched or irrational the mistakes have been, you must learn to forgive yourself. Acknowledging the behavior(s) is the first step toward redemption.
Once you’ve accepted the previous decisions weren’t made out of your best future interest, make a promise to yourself that there will not be more recurrences. This is where many of us fall victim in the never-ending cycle of poor financial decisions. Are you more privy to spend money out of haste, emotions, ego or self-entitlement? Identify what your spending triggers are and put parameters in place to protect yourself from further damage. Seeking the accountability of a family member or friend will help reinforce the changed behaviors you wish to implement while keeping you on track. Even those that do well with self-accountability could use positive reinforcement on their journeys.
We all make mistakes, regardless of our age or maturity level – but that doesn’t mean these setbacks define what’s ahead in this new chapter of your financial journey.
Create a tangible plan addressing one issue at a time
It has been estimated that the average human has a minimum of 50,000 thoughts per day, which in itself is hard to comprehend. Many of us pride ourselves on being able to handle multiple tasks, and while that may provide brownie points in certain avenues – your finances isn’t one of them.
In order to actively tackle reducing credit card debt, small loans or paying off your car, be prepared to sharpen your focus on one issue at a time. Momentum is important in this phase and you want to ensure burnout doesn’t occur too early in this process. Create a spreadsheet listing all of your financial goals. Be sure to make a tab for each goal while clearly documenting an action plan.
For example, let’s say there’s a credit card with a $1,000 balance. List the dates for every upcoming pay period, along with the amounts you are dedicating to eradicate the balance. Revisit this spreadsheet often to track your progress, hold yourself accountable and build your financial confidence. Treat this as a to-do list and check off each goal as it nears completion. Before you know it, the spreadsheet will be full of checkmarks and your credit balances will be zero!
Remain dedicated to the process
Let’s be honest – life will always happen. Car trouble will arise, and unexpected expenses can rear their ugly heads. Don’t allow normal life occurrences to distract you from the goals you’ve committed to.
Depending on your financial goals, some may take weeks, months or years to completely resolve. You may have to sacrifice dining out often or random shopping trips. Fear of Missing Out, better known as FOMO can be described as a phenomenon which causes one to fear not being included or regretting the decision of how to spend time. One minute you’re very excited and motivated about your goals. As soon as you get on social media, you’re questioning the decisions you’ve made to stay in the house or postpone a vacation. Keep the goals at the forefront of your mind and limit your social media usage if necessary.
The reality is we will miss certain events, trips, and outings. Reinforce your goals to family and friends that may try to entice and expose you to environments which result in spending money.
Remind yourself often of your current goals and where you want to be in the future
Does the saying, “out of sight, out of mind” ring a bell? Just consider all of the New Year’s resolutions or goals that never saw the light of day after February. Without constant reminders and reinforcements, it becomes challenging to work towards the goal. Specifically, for children, the idea of repetition is so vital as it helps to aid in information retention. We’re far from the adolescent age, but definitely not exempt from using repetition as a concept. Utilize tools that you already consume every day to help such as a running to-do list in your phone and calendar reminders that will keep you on track.
Patience is a virtue; stay the course
In a world that is constantly moving, it’s difficult to not desire instant results. Fast food drive-throughs, expedited shipping and same day pickup options convenience our lives so much while slowly chipping away at our willingness to endure. Fad diets promise quick results, confirming that shortcuts are available for any goal we’re looking to achieve in life. Finances are a different ball game that requires grit, humility and complete surrender.
Checking off financial goals can be compared to a long road trip. The car is packed with luggage and snacks to help alleviate the drive. You’ve mapped out the estimated time it will take to reach the destination. However, the kids are cranky, someone needs to stop and use the restroom, the gas is running low. You’re finally back on the road – but somehow the signal on your cell phone went out so the directions aren’t updating. As the drive continues, the signal returns and the destination is no longer out of reach. This is the very same concept with achieving financial goals. There will be pit stops and setbacks, but as long as you’re committed to reaching your destination – nothing can stop you.
Redirect your focus. Whether the mistakes happened years or weeks ago doesn’t mean self-sabotage is justified. Forgive yourself first, commit to the process of financial recovery and mend the relationship with your finances for a lifetime.
From the editor: What do you think of these tips? Anything you would add from your own experience? Check out my post on the Turbo Community and join in the #RealMoneyTalk conversation! Just like our app Turbo, it’s free to join.