- Start a budget
- Track your expenses
- Create an emergency fund
- Pay yourself first
- Cut your expenses
- Rinse and Repeat
It all sounds so stinkin’ easy, right? Still, it can be exceptionally difficult to pull off. Why is that?
Why It’s Hard to Save Money
Of course, there are as many reasons why it’s difficult to get your finances on the right track as there are reasons that Justin Bieber is a D-Bag. Perhaps you aren’t paying enough attention to your money. Maybe you need to learn how to create a budget. You might need help learning how to pay yourself first before you tackle your bills. All these things are techniques that you can learn and implement.
Still, there may be other reasons still that you can’t get your money situation ironed out. You may have experienced a debilitating sickness or injury in the family. Maybe you’ve lost a job and have been struggling to recover. Your car could have been totaled and you didn’t have enough money in your emergency fund. There are countless valid (and many more invalid) reasons why you may be struggling at the moment. Regardless of the reason, the path to financial freedom almost always leads down the same familiar roads.
But, You Just Don’t Understand…
Sometimes financial coaches and bloggers get a bad rap for being heartless. Their “rah-rah” attitude and “everyone can do it” mentality often gets criticized for being too callous. It’s as if “understanding” each particular situation somehow would change the pain and sacrifice required of the financially responsible path forward.
I get it. I understand, and I know that there are often extenuating circumstances. Yet, while the causes of the illness are varied, the prescription for it is still the same. It doesn’t matter if you are $20K in credit card debt due to overspending or because of medical bills. The debt is still the same and the remedy is usually similar: Get on a budget. Track and cut your expenses. Save your money. Don’t spend on frivolous things. If you stick to the plan, it really does work.
In theory, it is one of the easiest things in the world to do. In practice, it can be one of the most difficult.
The All-Important Question: “Why?”
Even those of us who know all of the tricks and techniques have trouble saving money. We know what we should be doing, but we can’t seem to make it happen. Why? Well, maybe that is the exact question we should be asking ourselves.
It’s tough to motivate yourself by saying, “I need to get on a budget.” Hell, that sounds pretty boring, even to budget nerds like me! Even if you know it’s the right thing to do you probably won’t start with that kind of lame pep talk. You may be educated on why budgeting is beneficial. If you get started on the program, you may even get excited about some of your initial results. But results often only motivate us to continue for only so long. Even great results become stale after you’ve continued to see them over a period of time. If you aren’t careful, you’ll be sure to fall back into your old vices of overspending and failing to save.
(Related → Start Here: 5 Keys to Financial Success)
So, what is it that keeps us motivated over the long-term? What is the one thing that we can do to ensure that we are going to become savers for life? In my experience, there’s only one thing that is a constant motivator. There is one question that you must answer if you wish to dedicate yourself to a particular cause, and it the answer has to be strong enough to motivate you through the good times and the bad. It’s not a question of “how.” It is a question of “why.”
Why do you want to save money? Why do you want to become wealthy? Why? Your answer will determine your future.
The Strength of Why
The strength of your “why” is what’s going to propel you to ever greater heights. “I need to budget so that I can pay the electric bill.” Not very motivating is it? “I need to get on a budget in order to save enough money so that my children can have a nicer home, in a safer neighborhood, with a better school system.” Now that’s something that can drive you.
The question of why can be used in pretty much anything that you want to accomplish in life. Perhaps you’ve decided that you are going to start going to the gym? Why? The strength of your why will determine how long you’ll commit to your new project. If it is just to look good for summer, that is all you will get. If you’ve committed to living a healthier, longer life, you’ve made a much stronger commitment.
Why do I want to be rich? For me, getting our finances in order was the ticket to financial independence. What does that mean to me? It means never having to worry about how I’m going to cover the bills. It means that I never have to depend on anybody else to feed my family. It means that I am always in control of what I’m doing, where I’m going, and when I’m doing it. After years of working for it, obtaining financial freedom was the reason that I was able to quit my day job and work at home full-time. Now that I’ve experienced it, I never want to go back. And, it has all been possible because we got our finances together. That is what continues to motivate me. That is a big part of my why.
So, what is your why? Ask yourself, “Why do I want to be rich? Why do I want to make more money? Why do I want to save more? Why do I want to retire early?” You came here to get something…what is it – and more importantly – why?
I challenge you to come up with a strong, true reason that you can really commit to. If you can, you are truly on the path to accomplishing your goals.
(Next → How to Get Anything You Want in Life)