Think back to your last diet. What ended it?
Perhaps you reached your goal and let go of your habits? Maybe you’re hanging onto many of them even though you hit the mark? (That would be ideal.)
More likely than not, you grabbed a cheeseburger on a road trip, ate a steak dinner with a friend, splurged on ice cream, and then woke up and went out for a massive brunch. By the time you recovered from calorie overload, you had already lost hope. A few days later, your diet seemed as distant as a high-school memory.
Like dieting, budgeting effectively is about a disciplined re-imagining of your lifestyle. Similar to maintaining a healthy body, keeping a healthy budget gets easier over time as it becomes part of your life. And also just like with dieting, you need to forgive yourself for slip-ups and press on. Here’s how to stay on the path to an awesome financial future:
1. Write Down Your Goals
Forgetting about your goals is the best way to avoid reaching them. Why write them? According to lore, back in 1979, the Harvard Business School graduating class was asked if they kept clear, written goals and only 3% said they did. Ten years later, the same 3% were each boasting a net worth 10-times that of the other 97% combined! There’s another school of thought that’s now emerging that suggests you not share your goals with other people, but this doesn’t conflict with one simple fact: Writing your goals down helps you remember them so you can stick to them.
2. Expect Errors
Don’t be foolish about your budget. Plenty of people get jazzed about setting up a new budget and forget to factor in that they are human! What happens? They fail and wind up back-sliding into their old habits. Maybe you think you’re going to save all of your tip money in a jar without spending a single penny, but you always dip into that money on the weekends. Come next weekend, you’ll likely find your hand in the jar. Maybe you’ll take less out, but you’re a creature of habit! You can’t change all your habits over night, and even if you’re fully committed and do change quickly, you’re human. You’re going to slip up. Don’t freak out about it. At the very least, DO NOT let it discourage you from continuing to pursue your goals.
3. Set Actionable Goals
If you think you’re going to spend money on nothing but food and shelter for the next three months, you’re wrong. Mom’s birthday is two months from now, and she’ll need a present. And there are likely other people in your life who are going to find it really taxing to support you in that — they’ll be offering to pay your bowling league dues so you can stay on the team. That’s certainly not going to make it any easier to accomplish what you’ve set out to. At a rapidly growing business like PerkStreet FinancialSM, we must set actionable goals as individuals and as a team. Why? So we can continue to succeed! Yes, challenge yourself. But don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead, make sure your goals are going to be tough to reach but NOT impossible. It may take a while to differentiate these two things as a budgeter, especially if budgeting is fairly new for you. Stick with it and refer to No. 2 if you feel like you’re getting frustrated.
4. Budget in Some Relief
Wanna know how to avoid cracking under the pressure? Plan to release it sometimes and let yourself off the hook. When I was a kid, my dad didn’t buy me every toy on the shelf. Instead, he made his pay day my “toy day,” and brought home a wind-up toy or dollar store kite or something, anything that made me feel good. It taught me to budget in fun — relief, really — from the perceived pain of not having everything I wanted. Best of all, if you make relief part of your plan you don’t even have to feel bad about it when it arrives. You’ll think to yourself, This is part of my plan. Find a way to reward yourself when goals are met or at regular time interval. Keeping a sound budget will be way easier.
5. Get Back on the Horse
If there’s anything I can leave you with in this post — just one thing you remember — it’s this: Do not give up on yourself or your goals. Budgeting, getting out of debt, setting yourself up for a sound financial future… These things are hard! But they’re also worth it. If you find yourself slipping, take a breather. Find this blog post again. Re-read it. And get back on track as soon as possible. Don’t worry about making up for your errors if it’s daunting. Just re-align to your goals, re-configure your budget if you have to, and press on. You’ll be glad you did in the long run, because the diet won’t have ended. Today will still take you one step closer to your dreams.
Sick of banking someplace that keeps trying to take your money instead of help you with it? Welcome to PerkStreet Financial, where our whole business is built on honesty, integrity and helping people through the tough stuff. Did I mention the average American could earn over $600 per year with one of PerkStreet’s cash back debit cards?