We all need the same set of tools to succeed at handling our finances. The list of tools includes time, some basic skills, and some materials to keep us organized. This is the latest installment in a series of articles that offers an overview of a single budgeting tool; either a money management skill, or one of the supplies you will need.
Today’s focus is on a particularly crucial skill: commitment. Committing to your financial goals is as basic as it gets. Look at people who have their financial ducks in a row. They are committed to their financial goals, to keeping their budgets balanced, to paying their bills on time, or to becoming debt-free. Being dedicated to improve your financial well-being is a promise to take better care of yourself. Commitment to your financial goals takes an effort. It is a skill you can adopt, practice and master.
If you have money management problems, you’re not alone. Improving your personal finances takes focus and effort. It is a serious and often difficult task. Many people find the effort daunting and don’t know where to begin. Committing to change for the better is what you do instead of becoming overwhelmed. You should know that it is never too late to commit to changing bad financial habits. Remember, no matter how far down the wrong road you have travelled, you can turn around, and come back.
Unexpected costs, looming deadlines, or overdue bills sometimes prompt sudden attention toward your finances. Money problems are stressful for everyone. Unfortunately, too much pressure makes it hard to work on your finances. In fact, you are less likely to act in your own best interest when you feel too stressed out. However, you have decided to improve your finances. You’ve committed to better financial health, and you need to remain committed. Here’s how.
When your finances incite panic, instead of acting quickly to relieve anxiety, do the opposite. Slow down. Literally, let stress be the cue for you to pause for a moment and simply observe your feelings. Make yourself aware of your surroundings for a moment. Bring yourself fully present. Take a breath. Let your shoulders drop, relax your jaw. Instead of letting anxiety control your actions, you can observe non-judgmentally that you feel stressed. Once you observe that, you can act calmly despite feeling stressed. By slowing down, you can better avoid reacting to pressure. Instead, you can respond intelligently and appropriately.
When you react, you act quickly without thinking. Stress inhibits thinking, promotes tunnel-vision. It goads you to react. Conversely, when you respond you think first and then act. When you are in control, you are naturally more confident and more creative. You can problem-solve better. Your commitment to your financial well-being will help you slow down, take control, and respond thoughtfully instead of reacting to financial challenges. When you are in the driver’s seat, your odds of meeting your own financial goals are dramatically increased.
It all begins to fall into place from there. Slowing down and taking control helps you think clearly so you can make sound decisions. Consistently making good, careful budget decisions eventually leads to better financial health. When you are committed to improving your finances, you are better able to focus and organize your bills. A more organized, systematic approach helps you meet your financial goals. And your ability to commit to improving your finances will improve the more you practice.
Practice makes perfect
You’ve made the commitment to improve your financial health. You’ve made efforts to take control, to act thoughtfully and you’ve started to organize. Now give yourself some credit. Be honest, you’re going to have to re-commit and practice all this again when your next set of bills comes in. And you’re not going to want to stay committed if this was a bad experience. So give yourself a pat on the back, treat yourself as if you were your own best friend. This is all about taking care of you.
When you are done working on your finances, plan to take a break to reward yourself. Have a snack, go for a run, or walk the dog. Relax in front of the TV or computer. Go meet with, text or call a friend, and tell them about your day. Post a status update on Facebook saying how proud of yourself you are for working on your bills, and see how many likes you get. Most importantly, schedule the next time you will work on your budget. Actually pick a day and time, and put it on your calendar. This is the day you promise to return and continue the work on your finances. Now keep that promise.
If you find that you need help getting started or just want some expert advice, Apprisen is here to assist you. Apprisen offers a free personal finance counseling service that will help you get organized, build a spending plan, and get your finances back on track. Talk about commitment, help is just a click away.