Rescue Your New Budget with These 5 Steps
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I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid New Year’s resolutions. They don’t work very well for me. You know how it is: I make the resolution, stick with it for a few weeks, then fall back into my old habits.
Well, this year I caved. I made a “resolution” that I was going to get in better shape. I decided to start eating healthy, get back to exercising, and drop a few “LBs.” Things were going great until…
I fell off the wagon last weekend and gained 5 freakin’ pounds! Ugh. All that hard work, washed away in just a few days. It just sucks.
So, this morning I took a peek at the calendar and it dawned on me: This isn’t something that’s unique to me. This time of year, most people start struggling to keep their January resolutions.
I don’t want that to happen to me, and I don’t want it to happen to you either.
If you’re struggling with your new money mindset, you’re not alone. These tips can help you push through this rough patch and stay on the path to financial wellness.
Remember Your “Why”
Having a strong “why” is key to driving any major changes you’re attempting to make. This is the reason you want to change in the first place. Typically, it’s a long-term goal that acts as the catalyst for making changes.
Perhaps you’re tired of struggling to pay the bills. Maybe you are buried under student loan debt and want to make sure that doesn’t happen to your kids. Your “why” is the ultimate driving force behind the change you’re attempting to make. The more powerful it is, the better your chances are at following through. So, if you’re struggling to stick to your plans, remember why you wanted to get your money straight in the first place.
One reason I’m struggling with my fitness resolution is because my goal isn’t specific enough. Saying “I want to get in shape” doesn’t really mean anything. There’s nothing to track. There’s no finish line to cross. It’s just a broad idea. But, if I change the phrasing slightly – like “I want to run the mini marathon in May” or “I’m trying to lose 15 pounds by April 15” – I’ve got something that drives me. There is something to shoot for, and it can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time.
It’s the same thing with money. Saying you want to do better is a great first step, but it really isn’t specific enough. Try setting a goal of saving $500 this month. Better yet, start saving for something specific like a vacation. It’s amazing how motivating it can be to have the dream of a Jamaican vacation on the horizon. The goal is specific, concrete, and the payoff is relatively immediate.
Recommit to the Process
Let’s face it: Making life changes is rarely easy. We’ve all got our bad habits, and it’s extremely easy to fall back on them when things get tough. Maybe our motivation slips. Maybe we are bored. Whatever the case, we lose our drive to stay committed.
One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not necessarily the best or most talented who succeed. The people who stick with their goals and continue working the process – even when they’re tired, bored, or just plain over it – are the ones who come out on top. Use your goals as motivation, and recommit to yourself and the process. Stick with it and you’ll find the financial progress you seek.
Simplify Things by Using Tools
Sometimes, we get so excited to make new changes that we almost overdo it. We change too much too fast. We make things too complicated. Our focus becomes cluttered and we get in the way of our own success.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, fall back on the process and simplify. There are 3 basic tools you need to get this done: a budget template, a budgeting app or other expense tracker, and an emergency fund. That’s it. Set them up and rely on these tools to get you though!
Push Through the Pain
Nobody said this was going to be easy. Nothing worth it usually is. To me, seizing control of your money is the hardest, simple thing you’ll ever do. The steps to sound money management are easy; you know the drill – start a budget, track your spending, have an emergency fund. Executing those steps, and making the mental and habitual changes needed for success, can be a struggle.
Yes, there is going to be some pain. Sure, some of the changes may not be that much fun at first. But if you can push through the pain, you’ll find yourself on the other side of a new normal. On this side, you’ll stop worrying about scraping together a mortgage payment. You’ll save the money you need for a vacation. When something breaks, you’ll have the money to fix it. In your new normal, you’ll have options – and there is no greater feeling in the world than that.
You Can Do This
This time of year, I know it’s tempting to give up on the resolutions you made in January. Try changing those resolutions to goals instead. Give yourself something to shoot for, something to motivate you. Keep pushing through and you’ll get the results you seek.
The only way you’ll fail is by giving up. Don’t allow yourself that option. You totally got this, and I know you can make the money changes need to transform your life.
Good luck. Recommit. We’re here to cheer you on!
How are you doing with your New Year’s money resolution? Are you sticking with it? Let’s use the comments below to share wins, losses, and provide support!
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“The only way you’ll fail is by giving up. Don’t allow yourself that option.” Very true, Greg!
I am careful to coach people into realizing that the budgeting process takes a bit of perseverance at first. Too many people give up right on the cusp of success just because they got “tired” or things got “hard.” I’ve learned to enjoy challenges and struggles because they indicate that I am on the right path, and that can be applied to virtually any scenario, including budgeting.
That’s true. If things are too easy, you’re probably not pushing yourself enough. Just like anything else, budgeting takes practice. You’ll rarely get it “right” on the first try.
We’re doing pretty well with our money resolution! Our biggest goal for 2017 is to pay off our student loan debt. It should be gone by the beginning of 2018 if all goes well. My loan will be paid off in May, which is AWESOME. 🙂
We’re putting $3,600/mo on our loans, but ideally we should be putting $4,000/mo on them. We’re still trying to find new ways to keep expenses low so we can meet our ideal goal.
That is FANTASTIC! Woo hoo! $3,600 a month is a giant chunk of change, so good for you. Congrats and keep up the good work!
I am doing fine w/ money resolution and I am actually paying my second rental property this year 🙂
Wonderful! We should have our second rental paid off this year as well. Yay!!! (BTW, I love rental property. Now all that money is just income. Love, love, love it!)
Coming up with a concrete written plan is what made my budget stick. The budget apps helped a bit, but writing it down always helps the most for me.
Yeah, I agree. A written budget is huge!
Great article. I think your point here sums it all up quite nicely: “One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not necessarily the best or most talented who succeed. The people who stick with their goals and continue working the process – even when they’re tired, bored, or just plain over it – are the ones who come out on top.”
It reminded me of this article by Success Magazine’s Darren Hardy – https://darrenhardy.com/2015/03/time-to-grind/. He talks about how it’s the athletes and what it takes to win. It’s the hours in the gym, on the practice field, taking cuts in the batting cage, etc. that make them successful. It’s not fun. It’s not quick. It’s a process and it takes time. He sums it up saying, “Success is extracted from the grinding of mundane work.” Couldn’t agree more. Although it’s a pain to implement.
Great food for thought for the weekend. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Dave, and I love the quote you dropped. So true.