There’s no need to overstate the obvious here. Before setting any money goals, it’s important to create a budget and understand debt. Neglecting either of those will derail any plans that you might have to save money or build a healthy retirement fund. Strength comes from within, but the ability to persevere is enhanced by knowledge and understanding.
Once you’ve built a solid foundation by calculating your income and expenses, you can focus on money goals. One of them could be to simply pay off any outstanding debt. You can use the debt snowball method, which prioritizes paying off balances small to large, or the debt avalanche method, which focuses on the highest interest rate first.
As for savings and retirement, those are lifetime challenges that require some motivation along the way. There will be times when you just don’t want to do it anymore, so how do you stay strong? Keep in mind that something got you started in this process, and you know where you want to go with it. Here are a few suggestions to help you get there:
1. Have a reason to save
Saving is tougher than investing because you don’t get to see as much of a rate of return on your money. With investment portfolios and retirement funds, you can watch your money grow. How do you stay motivated with making deposits into savings? Have a reason to save. It could be a house, a car, a vacation, or a new toy of some kind. Visualize it, and that vision will keep you going.
2. Set short-term milestones
Focusing only on long-term outcomes can leave you floundering in the middle of the journey. It’s important to set up short-term milestones so you can enjoy that feeling of achievement when you need it most. One example of this is paying off a single credit card. Another would be reaching a certain mark, say $5,000, in savings. Give yourself a chance to feel good about yourself.
3. Don’t waste your energy
Engaging in unhealthy competition or endlessly stressing about situations you have no control over is not part of a recipe for success. Learn to recognize when you’re wasting energy and save that juice for when you really need it. There are plenty of situations in life that will require you to go above and beyond. Don’t waste your energy on fights you can’t win.
4. Separate net worth from self-worth
How much you have in the bank should not define who you are. Those who attach net worth to self-worth almost always end up feeling they lack something important. Be a whole human being. Understand what’s important in life. (Hint: It’s not money). Sure, having a healthy bank account is nice. But can you be happy without one? Detachment will bring you great joy.
5. Align your financial habits with your values
Cutting corners and compromising your values will inevitably come back to bite you at some point. Hollywood often glamorizes the unscrupulous titans of industry. Take Billions, for example. Do you really want to be that guy? His money would be nice. Compromising your values to get it wouldn’t be. Stay humble and do it right.
6. Celebrate your victories
NFL players who win first-round playoff games often say, “We haven’t won anything yet.” They only have two or three more games to play before they can celebrate a Super Bowl victory. You don’t have that luxury. Celebrate the wins when they come, even the small ones. A positive mindset is important when trying to achieve your goals. Be happy for yourself.
Kevin is a former fintech coach and financial services professional. When not on the golf course, he can be found traveling with his wife or spending time with their eight wonderful grandchildren and two cats.