Does your current lifestyle support what you want out of life? Do you even know what your life goals are? It’s time to adjust your attitude and focus on what’s most important.
- Decide that you want a life full of meaning and purpose so that you can align your priorities including financial goals.
- Re-evaluate lifestyle choices. For instance, if you pay for premium cable and spend a lot of time watching shows does that satisfy your life goals? Can you think of better uses for that time and money?
- Prepare your own meals instead of eating out. Only eat out when you have included special occasions or motivational rewards in your budget.
- Cut back on in-home entertaining or switch to pot-luck events where everyone contributes.
- Walk instead of driving. Use public transportation instead of driving or private transport. If you lack public transportation, join or create a car pool.
- Cut back on high-cost entertainment. Take advantage of free or low-cost entertainment provided by your city, county and state including parks, museums and concerts.
- Join a public library instead of buying books and movies. Many libraries also offer other perks such as free programs, courses and Wifi service.
- Make time to do household chores instead of paying for help such as lawn, pest and maid services. Find ways to create family activities for bonding instead of spending. If you need extra help, find cheaper alternatives such as entrepreneurial teens, non-profit programs or people available through online help services.
- Start volunteering in an area for which you hold a passion. Volunteering can lead to other opportunities including jobs and networking, advice and tips, resource sharing, etc.
- If you buy things because they make you feel better or for social status, focus on how much better you will actually be when you have financial freedom and can give back to society.
- Examine the excuses you rely upon to allow yourself to splurge. For instance, you may need a cell phone but do you need to latest model or annual upgrades?
- Speak up for yourself and make a habit of asking what discounts are available. Many retailers and service providers have discounts that are not disclosed unless you ask.
- When making job changes, learn how to negotiate aggressively upfront – when the employer is most likely to give you the best deal. When you know you are a valued employee, don’t be afraid to renegotiate your salary and benefits — if you are willing to change jobs if the employer does not value you appropriately.
- Get in the habit of seeking out and acting on information that helps you save money, such as mortgage or loan refinancing. Make sure you read fine print and can spot “bait and switch” scams.
- Start thinking about your retirement and the lifestyle you’ll want when you are older. What do you have to do today to create the future you want?
- Make a list of your values. Examine if your lifestyle habits are in line with those values.
- Become a consumer by establishing a habit of doing basic research before buying things so you can better understand the value, the expected shelf-life and the use.
- Become more actively involved in your church. Many churches offer financial opportunities, such as scholarships, or other opportunities, such as references or dfree® financial freedom programs, that help with financial undertakings.
When is the last time you created a household budget and stuck to it? If you have a budget, is it aligned with your life goals? A budget is a critical tool for life advancement.
- Understand that the goal of a budget is to enable you to spend less than you earn so that you can save money to support the things you really want out of life.
- Track your spending for a week or a month by writing each and every purchase down. Review spending to determine what you spent on wants versus needs.
- Review your credit report to get a better sense of your overall debt and your payment habits. Your credit score will be higher when you have good habits. Do this annually.
- Review income sources. If you don’t have a bank to help track income and savings, open an account at a local bank or credit union.
- Create life goals that will help you prioritize and create financial goals.
- Create a financial budget and stick to it by reviewing it often. The goal of this budget is to first ensure you are not spending more than you earn and next to make your money work for you.
- Use SMART goals to create a realistic spending plan that will help you stick to your budget.
- Ask a good friend to become your budget coach. Let that person know what your goals are and ask them to help keep you on track by doing things like shopping with you or reminding you when you are missing an opportunity.
- Start talking to your family or friends more about budget and financial issues. Not talking about money helps hide problems and keeps you in a victim mode. Talking about money also helps others bring you information such as good financial investments.
- Take advantage of free services offered by banks, credit unions and other financial lenders or investors, including budget tools.
- When creating a budget, consider creating a hard rule to save 10 percent of your income first, and then see what’s left to spend in other important categories such as basic needs, debt, emergencies and investments for retirement.
- Create an emergency fund, of at least $3,000,and only use this for true emergencies so that you will not contribute to your debt.
How much debt do you have right now? Can you imagine a day when you are debt free? Don’t let debt overwhelm you or keep you stuck in a negative spiral. Instead, attack your debt and take charge of your life.