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As we're working through Finance February (and have already tackled a few intimidating projects … like creating a net worth spreadsheet and making a monthly budget worksheet), I wanted to show you today a few simple things you can do to help you stay on track with your finances (even when you really, really, really don't want to!
It's so easy to start off the month strong, determined to win at your financial goals, then get a few days in and just want to give up.
I get it. WE ALL DO THAT. With anything honestly that's truly worth having!
It's so easy with our financial goals, our weight loss goals, our family goals or even our business goals to start out strong but give up just a few days in and never see long term success.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are 5 easy ways to stick to your budget even when you really don't want to. I know you can do this!
#1 – Decide ONE financial goal that you really want to see success in this month.
Do you want to save on your grocery bill? Is prom coming up for your high schooler and you want to pay cash for her dress? Would you love to pay extra on a student loan so you're not saddled with a bill forever that's ruining your budget? Decide that single financial goal and write it down today.
#2 – Remember who will benefit because you've cared for your finances well.
In the middle of an Amazon purchase, it's so easy to just pull out your credit card, plunk it down on the table and buy that thing you've been dreaming of without remembering who you're changing your finances for to begin with. (Especially with Amazon ~ you don't even have to go find your wallet, they literally hold your credit cards in their own wallet for you to almost force you to lose at this one each day!) Knowing WHO will benefit because you've cared for your finances and writing those people down on paper will help you focus on your long term goals when your short term memories kind of forget your real purpose.
Not sure who will benefit because you've changed your finances? If you have children, you're modeling for them how to manage money with every single purchase you make. When you choose to eat out instead of cooking at home, you're telling them “this is how people feed their families”. (OOCH). When buying things with a credit card that you can't afford, you're showing them that they probably can get away with buying what they want when they want it, even if it's not in their budget.
The benefit of that? IT GOES BOTH WAYS. If you decide to have a discussion as a family about a big crazy financial dream (like a trip to Disney or paying off your car), when you all work together to save for that crazy dream they will learn a lifelong lesson that money cannot buy.
Remember you're being a teacher every day to your children and those around you. Choose to model well as you work on your finances each day.
Before making a purchase, ask yourself “In one year, will I be truly thankful I made this purchase? Is it really worth it?” For example:
- In one year, will I be glad I spent these few dollars at the Dollar Tree?
- In one year, will it matter that I splurged on more expensive meat at the grocery when another cut was on sale?
- In one year, will I be happier because this t-shirt is in my closet?
- In one year will me buying this Starbucks coffee make today a better day?
Ooch. If the answer is no ~ and the money is not in your budget, re-think that purchase before you buy. HERE ME LOUD AND CLEAR: I am not saying there's a single thing wrong with buying something at the Dollar Tree, getting a super cute shirt or purchasing a Starbucks coffee. HOWEVER, if your finances are tight and you feel overwhelmed, please choose to skip this one today.
#4 – Come up with a few ways to “make” extra money without using what you already have.
Is there anything in your home that you could sell for extra cash to help you stick to your budget? Are there returns you need to make that might get you a few dollars back in cash? Can you set aside an hour this week and clear out some clutter and then consign a few things at your local consignment shop or even in a local Facebook group? Are there meals you can make using what you already have in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer that will help you stay on track this month? Decide that for the season you're in right now, instead of spending your time purchasing things, you're going to spend your time earning things. It's so very worth it in the long haul and. you'll never regret your decision to save today!
#5 – Write down on paper what you're most excited about in regards to your financial future, and check in every single day to keep yourself on track.
I know it's intimidating and overwhelming and so-not-fun-at-all to work on your budget, but when you remember your long term goals, taking care of your finances feels a little more valuable. What are you most excited about regarding your financial future? Where will you be in five years if you decide to stick to your goals today? And again tomorrow? Having true financial freedom and less anxiety over money is simply the sweetest gift you can give yourself, and such an amazing blessing to those around you too. It allows you to give generously, and live with a little less worry.
BONUS TIP … because you know I have to say this ~
Check it all off on a list. 🙂 Each day, check these things off on your list. Here are your daily goals
- Purposefully spend as little as you can today
- Complete a daily spending ledger to keep track of where your money is being spent
- Make your menu plan
- Check your local grocery store sales ad for the bet prices on groceries this week
- Review your financial goals regularly so you don't forget your long term vision
And the real truth behind all of this?
I have seen right up close what life looks like when you feel like you have never-enough-money. When adding that 89¢ bottle of V05 Shampoo to your grocery cart means you might not have enough for milk. When buying Pampers instead of store brand diapers feels like a crazy extravagance that only rich girls do. And when having two bottles of toilet bowl cleaner to keep in each bathroom instead of just one to race around the house to every toilet with feels simply wild because an extra $3 bottle of Lysol is simply too much this month.
And I've seen financial freedom. When getting a full size bottle of REAL PANTENE doesn't bust our budget any longer. When we can afford almost any brand of whatever thing at the grocery store (even though I will always choose the store brand because who-on-earth-pays-full-price?) My greatest extravagance these days? Um, don't laugh at me but I literally thank our finances out loud EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to clean my toilet bowls because now I can afford to have a little Lysol in every single bathroom and no more racing through the house with just one bottle.
It took over 25 years, a LOT of pinching pennies and a ton of work, but IT IS JUST LOVELY and goodness, I want it for you today.
So go pull out your pen and paper if you're not quite there yet. Decide your financial goals. Determine who matters that you're doing this for. Ask those hard questions and do the hard things because GOODNESS YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Cheering for you today ~ hugs!
P.S. If you have the Money Planner or Money Planner Bundle, open up to page 30 if you haven't already and complete your monthly overview. THIS ONE IS EASY. Start with just that page and get started right away. Learn more about the Money Planner if you're just curious, and tackle Finance February in a big month!
New to budgeting and don't know where to begin? Here are a few posts that might help: