Let’s cut through the fluff. When it comes to money we’re of two minds. One is that we work hard, and we should be financially savvy. The other is that we work hard and should be able to spend money on whatever we want. We’re perpetually stuck in the middle trying to solve the tug-of-war.
Here’s the tough truth: Regardless of how hard we work, we must be financially responsible first.
It’s time to silence the part of our mind that tells us we can or should be able to get what we want. This is not because you haven’t worked hard, nor is it to say you can’t get things you want sometimes. But it is to say what matters most with money is controlling it, and not letting it control you.
The best way to set financial goals is to focus on cutting back, living within your means, and flexing your creative muscles. Avoid goals that focus solely on making more money or doing things to feed a spending habit. These will not survive the tide of life. Make goals that you can control regardless of situation.
- Begin a monetary saving goal based off your budget. If your income does not exceed your spending, make your goal to save whatever the deficit is. Give yourself the proper amount of time.
- Ex: My spending exceeds my income by 300 dollars. I will save 300 dollars every 2 months by spending 5 dollars less each day or cutting back on my leisure or eating out budget.
- Next, learn to say no to impulse or emotionally driven buys.
- Ex: I can make coffee at home. I won’t buy it from a coffee shop.
- I want to buy my child expensive things. I can buy it gently used or make it myself instead.
- Stop paying for convenience. Use the time you usually scroll the internet on your phone to do the things that cost a lot of money instead.
- Ex: When grocery shopping I won’t buy pre-cut veggies or fruit or individually separated servings as these have a mark-up for convenience.
- Don’t buy everything. Try trading items or skills with friends.
- Ex: I want to get my nails done, and my friend is good at it. I will ask her to do my nails every two weeks in exchange for tutoring her child in math.
The right, specific financial goals can lead to great success. Those goals come from viewing your money as a way to pay bills and not as a way to get what you want or a way to make life easier. This perspective takes some work, but the ability to have control of your finances is a true freedom.