It’s January, so we’re talking about organization, and the first area to organize is our money!
In my last Organize Your Money Post, I encouraged you to break those financial goals into teeny tiny pieces and to make them visible. Today we’re talking about what you can do to make those goals become a reality.
First, I’m going to share a profound life principle with you. Get ready. Get set. Here it is:
What you do everyday matters more than what you do occasionally.
In other words, your daily actions will have more effect on your future, than what you do every once in a while. It’s true for your diet, your exercise plan and your money. No matter which area of your life we are talking about, your daily habits determine your future.
Total downer, I know. So what can you do about it?
Identify Your Weakness
Everybody’s got ’em. For Achilles it was a vulnerable heel; for Superman, that bothersome Kryptonite; for Miley Cyrus, it’s disastrous career moves.
My personal issue is fast food drive-throughs. I love the idea of not having to prepare my own food, and I justify my habit by telling myself that it’s only $3 (or $5 or $7). The only problem is that those small amounts of money add up quickly and before I know it, I have spent $30 in a month.
What’s your spending weakness? It may be restaurants, shoes or hot pink designer purses. Whatever it is, acknowledge it, own it, confess it.
Once you have identified your problem area (or areas), you need to break through the denial that the spending isn’t hurting you financially. Acknowledge that redirecting that money toward a more important goal can help you reach it more quickly.
As much as I love having someone else cook my food, that $30 could have purchased something a lot more awesome than a double cheeseburger and some semi-warm fries. In order to address my spending weakness, I have to decide that I have a bigger, more important goal to work toward like finishing our emergency fund so we can start saving for a vacation to the beach.
It’s not easy to break a spending habit, but thinking about the bigger picture definitely helps.
Focus on the Positive
So let’s say that you’ve decided to forego that morning mocha-ccino-latte concoction so you can save for a trip to Tahiti. Thinking about those beaches can help prevent your next coffee purchase, but you have to take it a step further. You have to create a positive alternative to that negative pattern that you have developed.
It’s much more difficult to “avoid” a bad habit, than it is to replace it with a positive habit and focus on the new action you will be taking. For example, if you want to lose ten pounds and you tell yourself that you are not going to eat Oreos, you will suddenly have an intense need for chocolate cookies with a light, creamy center. (Not that I have any experience with this issue, despite the oddly specific way in which I described it.) The random person to whom I am referring would have to create a new plan like leaving the kitchen and putting on some music when that craving hits.
If $7 coffee really is your weakness, find a new route to work that doesn’t go by the coffee house, or make some delicious French roast at home to take with you. For my fast food habit, I have to plan ahead and bring a sandwich or a snack with me when I run errands.
So here’s your “I’m Going to Get My Act Together” task for today: Determine a positive action that you can start right now to counteract a negative spending habit. Now promise yourself that you will try this new idea for at least the next few weeks. If your finances haven’t improved by then, I give you full permission to give it up — but, you have to choose another idea to try.
To make your new plan more “real”, leave a comment saying what you will be doing differently.
(Email subscribers will need to click the title of this post to leave a comment on the blog.)
If you would like more help to get your finances on track, I have some exciting news for you!
My new e-book 5 Days to Budget Breakthrough: Change Your Money – Change Your Life is here!
If you need to change the way you manage your money, you need this book. I give you practical, real-life steps to get your money on track and fast!
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Click here to read the next post: Don’t Forget This! [See all the Organize Your Money Posts here.]
Celia Jayne says
I have LOTS of weaknesses, but one of them is using my debit card. It feels like I’m not really spending money if I’m using my debit card. So I’m going to try leaving it at home unless I have specifically planned shopping. Thanks!
I have started taking the money that I would have normally spent on a latte or fast food and put that money into a kitty bank. I also use coupons now and put that money in the kitty. By making this extra effort my positive award is seeing all the money I saved and it is worth it! Plus it is very rewarding!
I know exactly what you mean Krista. I love seeing the money increase over time.
I also wanted to add that we were so bad about going to a local donut shop and grabbing coffee and delicious fresh donuts on the weekend. But I have found that having a few containers of cinnamon rolls (we buy the Immaculate, all natural ones) and some “gourmet” hot cocoa at home means that we have special treats on Saturdays without spending the extra time or money. These items are a bit more expensive at the store, BUT, per serving, they are way less costly than going out for coffee/snacks.
Another great solution Michelle. 🙂
Going out to eat when we are already out it is a weakness for us. We live about 30 min – 1 hr to where we shop. Sometimes, it’s just “easier” to grab something because it’s more convenient.
But, I have decided to try and pack “picnic” style lunches in a small cooler for us. That way, we can stop at a park or playground and eat.. saving money and having fun at the same time.
If we do decide to eat out, I try and plan ahead of time. That way I can spend less at the grocery store that week (say $30) in order to spend that money at the restaurant.
Good for you for finding a solution to your spending issue that not only costs less, but creates more fun in your life. I have also used part of my grocery money for planned eating out and it works very well. The key is planning, right?
As soon as I read your question I thought about sushi, and then I saw that someone already mentioned it. I did two sushi dinners this year which came 27 Euros for me (and equaly for my boyfriend). It is very tasty, but there are way better ways to spend this money. I should get back getting grupon deals for date nights with bad weather
We love sushi too, but it can get expensive. Good idea to look for Groupon deals.
My Achilles heel is going out to eat with my husband. The problem is that we “date” a lot — and staying inside the house isn’t the greatest ways of doing that!
I think that dating is good Maureen. Just set a budget and find ways to go out more cheaply like using Living Social and coupons you find locally. We also go on dates where we walk through a quaint downtown area and then split a dessert, so it costs much less. You can find other date ideas here: https://thepeacefulmom.com/2012/05/09/reader-question-how-do-you-afford-date-nights/. 🙂
Great post. This year our challenge (me and Andrea, my hubby-to-be) will be to spend less and save more. We moved to our new house on June 2013 and from then we spent a lot, from essential things we needed for our new house, to bills, and entertainment: some I-can’t-miss-it concerts, some cinemas, and too much eating out.
The last one is our real weakness: we love sushi and we go eating it very often. You’re totally right: what you do everyday matters more than what you do occasionally. And go out for lunch (lunch is cheaper than dinner) to eat some sushi means we spend € 20 (10 / person – all you can eat) everytime. It seems “not so much”, but it does pile up and you realize it at the end of the month, when you check your paper.
We already keep track of incomes and expenses (on a simple excel sheet), but we need more discipline, we must succeed in keep our eatings out only for special occasions.
I’m positive because Andrea will have a little pay raise from next month, and in May we’ll finish to pay our furniture: the challenge is to not “relax” ourselves, thinking “we have some more money, we can spend it”. We must think “We have some more money, we can save more and living with less”.
So true Francesca. It is really easy to spend more when you have more coming in. The best idea is to make a plan before the money hits your account. You can do it!
I will do it for sure. I already transfered a little amount on a separate bank account we use as emercency fund. If we don’t see them, we won’t use them!
We planned to do this every month. Thank you for your suggestions!
Thank you! 🙂
You are very welcome Paula!
I recently discovered the joys of online shopping. Unfortunately, my inbox became flooded with advertisements from my favorite stores. Around Jan. 1st, I took the time to unsubscribe from every website that was sending me advertising. No more advertisements, no more virtual window shopping, no more unplanned purchases. If I have a planned purchase, I go to their sites, they don’t come to me anymore!
That is so smart Tracy!