The last few weeks we have thrown some gold nuggets out regarding budgeting, streamlining your finances, organisation, and behaviours around money. This information, whilst valuable, is also essentially free and pretty easy to access using the internet. We decided to put these steps into a series of emails to break the process down and make it seem less harrowing than reading a 500-page book which you will probably fall asleep to.
A Positive Money Mindset
Like anything, when you set a goal, the best way to attack it is in bite-sized manageable and measurable pieces. Ultimately though, there is still one big overriding factor that can either make or break your plan.
Mindset is the glue that holds it all together. Your attitude and consequent behaviour is the difference between ‘heck yes’ and ‘oh crap’. You need to constantly remind yourself that this is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. There are going to be times when you want to give up, where it all seems too hard, or unachievable altogether. You might even let self-doubt creep in, to a point of actually beating yourself up about being useless. After all, if you can’t make a simple financial plan work, then you are obviously useless, right?
Ok, so what are the things we do in order to keep ourselves positive? We aren’t exactly going to put it on Instagram each time we make a credit card repayment, are we? Maybe you will and that’s totally fine too, but to be honest I don’t know it will help. Here are a few things that will help though.
Think about last time you went on a diet (if you did). Who was the friend who said ‘meh, I ate chocolate for breakfast anyway, so I might as well make the rest of the day a cheat day’ – This is not the person to help you stay on track
First thing: Know why you are doing it. If you remember the start of this email series, we spoke about how debt is suffocating Australian families. Debt, unnecessary debt to be precise – is preventing you from doing whatever it is you want to do. Holidays, private schools, starting your own business, renovating the house, maybe even the deposit for a new home… debt will hold you back from these. Treat it very simply: the less debt you have, the more money you can save – in the mattress, in accounts, in shares, assets – whatever! When you have no debt, you are free. Sit down with the family and figure out what motivates you to be debt free.
This is your why.
The next step is to write it down. Be as binary or as creative as you want – whatever works for you. There is no right or wrong to this, but it is well studied that when you write things on paper, you have a better understanding of the subject. It sticks. You connect better with what you are attempting to achieve. And if you are going to write it down, then you had better make sure you tell your family what the plan is. Most of what we have been talking about requires behavioural adjustments and reigning in on selected spending – so it pays to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Set rewards along the way. There has to be a carrot or why oh why would you even bother? Now I’m not talking about trips to the Maldives (or maybe I am), but rather small items that you’ve previously put off because you didn’t have the money. In my house, we like to use projects around the home. They are all listed in order of monetary outlay and as we squirrel down the debt, we can afford the bigger projects. The satisfaction of buying yourself something without emptying the bank account or sticking it on a credit card – priceless. (If you didn’t already know I’m a finance nerd, then that sentence probably gave it away.) Further to this, a timeline will remind you just how far you’ve already come when you feel the urge to give up or feel like you’ve been spinning your wheels.
Recruit a buddy/supervisor: This can be anyone from your partner to your mum to your actual financial advisor. It just needs to be someone that is willing to check in on you, encourage you and listen when things aren’t going to plan. It also needs to be someone who isn’t going to fold with you when you suggest that spending your last $50 on wine is obviously the only answer. (We all have one of those and you know exactly who they are!) Select wisely. Think about last time you went on a diet (if you did). Who was the friend who said ‘meh, I ate chocolate for breakfast anyway, so I might as well make the rest of the day a cheat day’ – This is not the person to help you stay on track
Above all – have a laugh and turn those negatives into lessons. Learn, grow and prosper. I know that sounds corny – but it’s a must. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to need to change tack and reroute the course. There is no ‘lap band surgery’ version of financial fitness – unless you declare bankruptcy and are prepared to start again. You have to work at it, and you have to make healthy, sustainable changes for life. It’s not easy, but we promise it’s worth it.
All you gotta do is start.