Resolutions don’t last.
It’s a sad fact that we all witness right around the beginning of February each year, when most New Years resolutions fizzle out and their well-intentioned authors fall back into their old habits. Gyms and fitness centers always see a boom in activity and new memberships in January, and are inevitably back to average attendance by Valentine’s Day.
Habits, on the other hand, are small, simple shifts you make in your day to day life. They create sustainable change, consistency and feelings of accomplishment and security. They pull you forward with far less effort than the push and struggle of determination. They are measurable so they are manageable, making it much more likely that you’ll succeed.
Healthy financial habits are a critical part of every financially successful person’s makeup – and they aren’t hard to establish or stick to, if you approach them with the right attitude and goals in mind. Here are a few you can try right off the bat:
1) Check in with your finances every day.
Even if it’s just for 60 seconds of so, make a habit of logging in to your bank account, credit card account, or investment accounts every day. Checking balances, reviewing recent transactions, and generally taking inventory on a daily basis can do wonders for fostering a feeling of control and power of your financial picture.
2) Set up an automatic savings transfer.
Whether you get paid biweekly, monthly, or otherwise, paying yourself first is one of the most powerful and result-producing financial habits you can establish. Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a savings account on the days of the month that coincide with your paydays. Treat it like the first bill you pay from each paycheck, and you’ll be shocked at how fast the savings can add up, while completely removing discipline from the equation.
3) Be conscious of every dollar you spend.
You’ve heard of overweight people struggling with “mindless eating” – the same goes for spending. Whether it’s a $5 cup of coffee or those $10-$15 lunch breaks at work, those seemingly small purchases add up quick. Take inventory, and see where you can cut the fat.
4) Set financial goals, and share them.
Saving up for an emergency fund? Trying to pay off your student loans? Catching up on your retirement goals? Write those goals down, and share them with others. You’ll create a sense of accountability, and you’ll be 33% more likely to succeed, according to recent studies.
5) Favor “future-you” over “present-you”.
In all matters financial, get into the habit of depriving your present self to the benefit of your future self. Your present self wants that shiny new gadget or pair of shoes, but if that money gets saved instead, your future self will be in a better position financially. Make this mindset a habit - your future self will thank you someday!
Remember, habits take time to develop, and then become second nature. Start with a few simple repeatable steps, build from there, and you’ll be well on your way to a bright financial future.
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