It may be easy to find your motivation in the beginning of your financial journey, but just like any journey, there can be obstacles that get in the way of your progress and diminish your drive. Maybe you’ve had a few unexpected expenses or a few personal finance mishaps. However, these minor setbacks don’t need to define the outcome of your financial plan. The highs and lows of achieving your goals are normal (expected even), but it can be difficult to remain motivated. Below are a few tips that can help you or people struggling with financial motivation.
1. Know your “why”
You may have heard that it’s a good idea to save money or build your credit. However, if you don’t know the reasons why, these tasks can feel tedious and boring. Developing a reason as to why you want to achieve certain financial tasks will add some perspective to your financial journey. Your “why” can be to create a better life for your future children, buy a home, or to enjoy your retirement without having to worry about finances. Whatever the reasons, your “why” can be a great motivator to help you stay focused.
2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
It’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you have a goal that you’re working towards. Similar to your “why”, your goals can help shape your financial decisions. These goals can be short-term or long-term goals, but it’s a good idea to follow the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal-setting technique. If you're having trouble coming up with a good goal, read these Financial Goals from Real College Students to help jump start your thinking.
3. Keep visual reminders of your goal(s)
Once you’ve decided on what you want to achieve, it’s easy to track the day to day progress for that goal. Create a spreadsheet or goal thermometer, and place it somewhere you will see it everyday, like your fridge or on your mirror. When you visualize your goals, you have a constant reminder of what you’re trying to achieve. This can help you see the big picture and say no to expensive outings with friends or impulse purchases, like new shoes or clothing.
4. Break down larger goals
Even if you do everything right and set a goal that you’re eager to achieve, the bigger and long-term goals, like establishing an emergency fund, can seem daunting. To keep from feeling overwhelmed in the long run, you should break those goals down into smaller checkpoints. The emergency fund should be at least 3-6 months of your living expenses. Achieving this goal can be broken into one month checkpoints, until you reach or exceed your goal. Saving enough money to be able to live one month without an income is way less intimidating than trying to reach 6+ months. Reaching a few smaller goals that add up to one big goal can help keep you on task in your finances and improve your mental state with your money.
5. Celebrate wins (big or small)
After you break down your bigger goals into their building blocks and begin to achieve those checkpoints, don’t forget to celebrate. Allowing yourself a small reward when you meet one of your milestones is a necessary part of your financial journey. If you made your goal of achieving a credit score over 700, you should get dessert at your favorite ice cream shop. Paying off your debt is another financial milestone that should be celebrated; to treat yourself, you could purchase a bike, an easel, or another hobby item that you would use in your free time. These mini celebrations can keep you motivated, but make sure that they don’t break the bank.
6.Surround yourself with encouraging people
If friends and family constantly put you in situations that have a negative effect on your budget and mental health, it can begin to take a toll on you. When possible, try to surround yourself with people who encourage you on your financial journey. These positive people will keep you accountable, instead of holding you back. You can even become supportive of each other on each of your own financial journeys.
7. Learn more about the financial world
You may feel you have adequate knowledge of money and all things that come with it, but there is always more to learn. Reading a book or blog on investments and savings techniques can make you a more well-rounded financial individual, but you don’t have to be a reader to get smarter about your finances. Instead, you could watch helpful videos online or listen to financial podcasts. As you learn more information, you may decide you want to invest in a different retirement plan or create a larger emergency fund. Your goals will most likely change and adapt as you become more well-versed in different financial concepts.
8. Keeping moving forward
You won’t be motivated and enthusiastic all the time, as progress doesn’t always have to be linear. You may meet setbacks along the way, and that is okay. As long as you don’t take major strides backwards, you are still making progress towards your goal of a strong financial future. The best thing you can do is to focus on the task at hand and keep moving forward. Soon enough you’ll reach your financial goal, and your excitement and drive will come rushing back.
After you’ve read these tips, you might have a better understanding of how to keep your passion for your finances burning throughout the entire journey. These tips will help you become better equipped to handle the financial wins and setbacks, as well as holding yourself accountable in your financial decisions. Remember that even if you maxed out your credit cards, invested in the wrong products and services, or just hit rock bottom, you can use this unfortunate event as a way to motivate yourself to reach your financial goals. You should try to learn a financial lesson from every setback and develop new habits to steer your financial ship toward and beyond your goals.
👛Are your savings habits nonexistent? Read 6 Money Saving Challenges That Are Actually Fun.
💳Needing a refresher on when you to use your credit card? Check out 9 Expenses Your First Credit Card Can Help You With In College.