I tend to find myself comparing finances with fitness. While the two are completely different, the approach to them can be quite similar. You have to get motivated about both of them, you need to set goals, you need to track your progress and you need to stay committed. Skipping any of these steps is only going to set you up for failure.
In 2015, I decided I needed to make a change to my personal finances. I did everything I could to become motivated about my finances, I set my goals, I continue to track my progress and I have stayed committed.
So how the heck do you get motivated about finances, of all things? Everybody finds motivation in different forms but these actions should resonate with you in some shape or form.
Determine what makes you unhappy or not satisfied
When you start a fitness journey it is usually because you are unhappy or not satisfied with your current health/body.
- You want to tone up
- You want to lose weight
- You want to gain weight
- Your health is sub par
Of course those are just a few situations.
Your financial situation is the same way. What part of your finances makes you unhappy or not satisfied?
- Are you sick of living paycheck to paycheck?
- Are you tired of being in debt?
- Are you not saving enough for retirement?
- Are you not making enough money?
Personally, we were tired of thinking that we would be paying on our student loans for the next 30 years. We felt like we were living just fine; we were happy with our income and our way of life. However, at least once a month we thought about our student loans and having that weighing on our minds made us unhappy.
Fortunately, our friends brought up Dave Ramsey’s “My Total Money Makeover” in random conversation. It sounded interesting so I bought it immediately and it changed our lives.
Read success stories
When you finally decide that you are unhappy or not satisfied with your current fitness level, you tend to start looking for a plan. You try to find people in your same situation and see what they did. Whether it is Advocare challenges, Shaun T videos or weight lifting; you look for results that you want to see in yourself.
Do this same thing with finances! Find people who paid off their debt in 8 months. Find people who increased their net worth by $100k in a few years. Find people who have a great retirement plan. Seeing that other average people have done what you want to do will give you hope!
Surround yourself by everything finance (at least online)
When I decided I wanted to start lifting weights, I started following all kinds of NPC Bikini Competitors on Instagram. I was constantly looking on Pinterest for workout ideas. Some people even hang up their dream body on their refrigerator or mirror as a daily reminder of what they want to become. These daily reminders kept me motivated to want to make a change.
Start following personal finance bloggers on Twitter. Start subscribing to personal finance blogs. (Check out a few that motivated me here) Join Facebook groups that relate to finance. Buy a couple personal finance books. These daily reminders and advice will keep you motivated.
Put your numbers on paper
So you wanted to something about your fitness but you still can’t seem to get motivated. Or maybe you don’t think you are in that bad of shape. Then you step on the scale one day and realize how much you actually weigh. Maybe you go and try to run a mile but can’t even finish it or try to lift a certain amount of weight and you can’t. Reality sinks in.
Maybe my first three suggestions haven’t quite motivated you yet. Maybe you are currently fine with your finances or don’t even realize how much debt you are. Maybe you are fresh out of high school with no debt and retirement hasn’t even crossed your mind.
Well I challenge you to put your finances down on paper.
Add up all your debt. Watch how much your balance actually goes down after one payment. Interest usually comes into play here.
Figure out how much money it will take to retire and live comfortably. How much do you need to put away each month? How much do you need to retire early?
What will it take to become a millionaire and how quickly can you do it?
Track your spending. How much money are you throwing away on pointless stuff like gas station coffee/snacks or Starbucks?
If you don’t have any debt or have never opened a credit card, I challenge you to never open one. Take advantage of your rare situation and set yourself up for success starting now. You have a unique opportunity that most others don’t have. You can learn from others’ financial mistakes and never have to make any of your own.
It is paramount to become motivated before taking on any challenge. If you do not find ways to become and stay motivated, you are only setting yourself up for failure.
What have you done to become motivated about your finances?