We all face “dragons” in our lives, things we need to slay. It could be a habit, a way of thinking, or an unexpected life challenge. The battle can, of course, be tough, but when we face up to something that forces us to take personal inventory of ourselves and change our behaviors for the better, that’s a good thing.
And there are certainly plenty of dragons out there to slay when it comes to our finances. So strap on your swords and don your armor! Here are some tips to help you successfully battle your financial dragons.
- Take personal inventory of yourself and your current financial situation. To be honest this is often the hardest step. It involves taking a good hard look at how your finances look now, what you did or didn’t do that got you to this point, and where it is you ultimately would like to be.
- Now that you know where you are you have to determine if there are attitudes or behaviors that you have that may be standing in your way. Common thought patterns in regards to finances may include: “I don’t make enough money to have a budget,” “I have nothing available to save,” “I will never get out from under all this debt, so why try?” “I work hard so I deserve it,” etc. Behaviors that may be holding one back may include: shopping as a form of entertainment or mood enhancement, making eating out your main form of socializing, feeling like one has to impress others or prove that they are making it by obtaining or maintaining a certain lifestyle that may not be affordable, etc.
- Once you know what attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and other influences may be holding you back, you can devise ways to minimize or work around them. There have been multiple studies showing the power that our thought processes can have over our state of mind and actions. For example, instead of looking at personal money management as a negative thing, recognize the ways that it can benefit you instead, such as helping you build up an emergency savings funds, helping you meet your goal of becoming debt free, or saving up for a down payment on a house.
- Sometimes we are frozen in a state of inaction because the task at hand seems too large to tackle. To counter this, start by laying out your starting and ending points. Next go in and add some smaller steps to take in between the major actions, including deadlines for these progressions. Without definitive deadlines many things go undone as they are continually put off. When tasks are broken down into more manageable chunks it makes it easier to work towards your end goal.
- Going through all the previous steps is not easy and it can be difficult to stick with it, but if you have made it to this point, it is time to take the actions you have set up for yourself. All the planning in the world won’t get you where you need to be, unless follow through and finish the process.
- Seek out support/encouragement as needed and provide it as well. We all have areas where we know we could and probably should improve. Sometimes we just need a little extra encouragement and support to get going and stay on track. This can come in the form of a professional or even a family member or friend. You may even discover that someone close to you needs a little encouragement in this area or others as well.
Bottom line: We all have areas in our lives that we would like to improve on which is sometimes easier said than done. By working through the process the way I have described, we can position ourselves to meet our goals and improve our situations –financial and otherwise.