Ever feel you are your own worst enemy when it comes to your money?
Well it’s true… But your mind can also work for you rather than against you. I’m going to share the exact steps I use to eliminate mental sabotaging of my financial goals. It’s a 3-step mental trick, a shortcut of sorts,which performs mental ju-jitsu for me, and may be just what you need to take the inner fight out of frugality.
Let’s jump right in.
I was a terrible saver. Sure, I had lofty goals, but when I saw something I wanted – I couldn’t resist…
As you can imagine, this blew my budget repeatedly, and struggling to make ends meet financially seemed to be a monthly cycle of struggle, debt and sweat, only to repeatedly find myself in the same situation the following month.
One day, I hit my breaking point – you can read in complete detail about my shameful experience on my blog over at ReallyBadCreditOffers.com. Feeling like a pile of mush, I could only ask myself, “There has to be a better way.”
I resolved right then and there to break this pattern I’d fallen into poorly managing my personal finances. I began to watch what was going on in my head when I had the impulse to spend recklessly. Then I discovered an exact process to use in order to end the habit completely – more on that in a minute.
First, you need a little background, here is how it would happen…
My Savings Goals:
- Dream Home – (40% Mortgage Down Payment)
- Retirement Plan – ($1.5 Million in Liquid Assets by 65)
- Emergency Fund – ($50K Untouched Emergency Account)
- Travel Fund – ($35K Budget For Extended Travel Free From Financial Worries)
My savings goals were specific, and I had a disciplined monthly budget worked out which in theory should put about $2K towards my savings. (I’m aware my goals will require quite a bit more than that, but you need to aim high!)
Hell, I’d even gone so far as to put together a comprehensive list of savings ideas for reference, now available at my blog.
All good, in theory. In reality, I would stick to my budget with Spartan discipline, fighting to lower costs and avoid high cost spending for about 80% of the time, until something caught my interest.
In my case, I’m a sucker for business tools and exotic trips.
Big ticket, high cost items would be quickly explained away as ‘an investment’ or for ‘quality of life.’ It only takes one slip to slash your savings and I was making reckless spending choices regularly.
It was almost as if emotionally I was like a volcano, and periodically I would blow my top, spending on things which I really could have done without.
Of course, I was enjoying every bit of it in the moment, but it was costing me precious time and not getting me, ultimately to really truly desire to be financially… that’s mental sabotage for you, an inner conflict between your goals and your desires.
So… If you decide to follow my plan, you will need to sit down and really watch your actions understand to the very marrow what is happening in your head when you self-sabotage with money.
Imagine how it would feel to simply follow your budget effortlessly, as you move closer and closer to your savings goals as if on a greasy slide, almost unable to NOT accomplish what you desire. We all know it’s worth the effort, it’s getting out of our own way that is the trick.
The 3-Step Process:
By now, you have gotten deep into your spending, and watched what happens when you sabotage yourself. Now when you feel the emotions rising and the impulse gathering, take a quick moment and apply this 3-step mental trick and see how it changes your approach…
Step-1 – When you are facing a spending decision which could wreck your budget, ask yourself:
How will this purchase move me towards my saving goals faster?
- Imagine having already saved what you wanted. Feel it physically located somewhere, concretely. It’s not an image in your head, it is a location. Where are you located in your mind in relation to your financial success? What direction and how far will this purchase move you? Is it towards or away from the financial destination you desire?
2 Step –What can moving away from my saving goals with this purchase lead to?
- Still in your mental landscape, vividly picture all the consequences of not meeting your budget. Really feel it, let your mind run through a mental movie of what can happen. Feel the embarrassment of missing your mortgage payment or telling your landlord you don’t have the rent. See the look of disappointment in the eyes of the people you love.
3 Step – Is this decision the best use of my time/my money right now to achieve my goals?
- Imagine what other opportunities and options are available to you, which could, instead, move you closer towards reaching your savings goals. If there is freelance work you could be doing, odd jobs in the neighborhood or extra clients waiting for your attention, imagine doing that instead and how it would move you mentally towards your destination.
Blamo! This three step process is all you need to crush unresourceful financial impulses and even recharge your motivation to meet your budgeting goals.
Every time I found myself about to break my budget with a costly and un-needed expense, I stopped myself and ran through the three steps detailed above.
It takes just moments but is incredibly powerful.
After a number of incidents, I found the very pattern itself began to dissolve.
I needed to use the 3-step trick less and less often, until I had broken the habit completely. I still have a long way to go towards saving as much as I outlined above, but I’ve stopped sabotaging my efforts with reckless purchases. Even more amazing, it’s eliminated the ‘feeling’ of struggle.
What About You?
Frugality doesn’t have to be an effort, we are in it together, so start using my 3-step system in your life and let me know how it goes!
Don’t make the same mistakes I did.
I know I still have A LOT to learn about personal finance success and making money in general.
That’s why I’d love to hear your insights, or about the mind tricks that work for you.
Or maybe something you disagree with in my story?
Either way, leave a comment below now, let me know your thoughts!
Author Bio: Ariel Pryor
Today’s personal finance insights come courtesy of ReallyBadCreditOffers.com’s Ariel Pryor (check out his expert interview over at Mint.com). If you want to see more recommendations on how to fix the financial mistakes people make, follow me on Twitter @arielpryor or check out my blog.