When it comes to implementing healthy financial habits, starting out is easy. The challenge is sticking to the plan.
According to statistics by theMoney Charity,
- 2 million employees are not in a pension scheme,
- Average total household debt is £59,288 with the total personal debt bill having ballooned to £1,613 trillion in the UK as at end October 2018,
- 273 people a day were declared insolvent or bankrupt between July and September 2018 – equivalent to one person every 5 minutes and 16 seconds.
These are shockingly horrific figures.
We all know we should be doing more to change our money habits, but how do we stick with the plan when the motivation slips or life challenges us with some unexpected expense? Try these 8 pieces of advice from various money experts to keep you going.
Find your why, don’t just look at the what
Having a compelling positive reason to change our money habits, is key to our ability to keep to the plan. Too often we decide to change our money habits from a place of shame and guilt. The only way we are going to stick to this is if we can focus on the immediate positive results we plan to get from our changes, stress reduction, reducing our debt, the satisfaction of starting a savings plan. The benefit has to be truly compelling and valuable to our daily life. More importantly though it has to be personal to us and align with our values.
Get off to a slow start
This may sound counterintuitive, but the danger of jumping in and trying to do everything at once, cutting down on spending, starting a savings plan, implementing an investment strategy and countless other must do financial actions could mean that within a few weeks we feel overwhelmed, discouraged and lose motivation. Changing financial habits is not simply about putting new actions in place. This is 20% of what needs to be done. The other 80% is turning a negative mindset into a fertile ground of positivity and opportunity. This is where the hard work is. Changing poor money habits is a slow consistent process of small action steps.
You won’t love it at first
Humans will always try to follow the path of least resistance and this is the path we know, our comfort zone. Even if our comfort zone is furnished in bad habits, bad choices and stress we would rather dwell in what we know than risk what could happen outside of zone. Implementing new healthy habits falls directly into the discomfort zone, our zone of personal growth.
Recognise that your new money habits are going to feel uncomfortable. Growth brings a little (or a lot) of discomfort. Understand that there will be challenges, that the part of your brain responsible for survival will oppose these new changes and throw out panicked thoughts and messages to stop the change. Recognise these thoughts for what they are, don’t dwell in them, respond by simply taking the next small step forward and then the next. As consistent actions become habit, the unfamiliar becomes familiar and we progress forward.
Be kind to yourself
We never judge more harshly than when we judge ourselves. We are our own worst critic. When it comes to our measurement of our own success, we will accept nothing less than perfection. There is no harsher punishment than dealing with our own disappointment in what we have done. This fear of failing, even though it may be measured only be ourselves, holds us back from acting. We are the biggest influence on our ability to act and the most effective way to do that is through self-compassion. A concept taught in Buddhism, where self-compassion means mentoring ourselves with kindness. Acting towards ourselves with understanding, compassion and warmth. Understanding the common failings of humanity and bringing a sense of mindfulness to our thinking to bring perspective. Hereby creating emotional resilience and the capacity to weather setbacks and obstacles.
Don’t rely on willpower
Humans have a limited capacity for willpower. This is a given. When at the end of our tether we will give up a and dive for the cover of our old status quo. This is a fact. We know it. We are unlikely to change it. Let’s plan for it. The solution, automate! Automate as much as you can. Set up direct transfers to your savings account before the cash has had a chance to settle in your current account. Automate your regular bill payments. Put a pension plan in place with a deduction from your income before it crosses your path. Get accountability partners, tell them what you are trying to achieve. Talk about money to your family and friends. Get buy in to your plan. Make it fun, measure your achievements towards your goals and celebrate your wins. Keeping healthy money habits is a lifelong game, don’t play it alone.
Plan, prioritise but be flexible
Have a masterplan. Know where you are going. Set clear goals for the short term, medium term and long term. Break down the goals into doable action steps and keep track of them. This all seems so simple. If it were so, life would run like predictable clockwork. It is however in the space of the chaos when things don’t’ go according to plan that creativity lives. Have your plan but be flexible and embrace the unplanned opportunities. If you are clear on your ultimate goal, these are the little gifts from the universe to get you there.
Keep it simple
The jargon around our finances is mind boggling, literally. We wonder do we need a PhD in finance or maths to understand all the absolute “musts” and have “to’s” we are bombarded with in the media, in marketing material and daily in the news. No, we don’t. Complexity brings overwhelm and that brings procrastination and inaction. When it comes to taking care of your money, no one cares more about it than you. Be clear on what you need to do and why you need to do it. Operate from the point of view that simple is the key. The easier your money plan is to implement and maintain, the more likely you do it and stick with it.
Finally, seek advice
If you aren’t getting the answers you want and are still battling inaction due to fear and confusion, speak to a financial advisor, get a wealth coach, attend financial workshops and read personal finance books. You don’t have to stay trapped in the neverland of confusion. Taking control of your financial life and sticking to good money habits is one of the most empowering steps you can do for yourself.
If you are tired of feeling overwhelmed and confused about which steps to take next, schedule a free clarity session where we will uncover what is getting in the way of you taking action, and set up clear steps to get you on your path to living a financially stress free life.