While some people manage their money impeccably, most of us are dropping the ball to some degree. Often times, it doesn’t have a serious impact, and we could just stand to be a bit better with our savings or budget a bit more tightly. For those of us really off-track, our poor money habits can have serious consequences. If your money issues are nagging at you on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you are in a sticky situation or are quickly headed down that road. Here are just a few tips to get back on track.
Time to Face the Music
This part may be a bit painful, but you really won’t be able to move into a better space financially until you fully face where you are now. You need to bring your money anxieties out into the open—you are aware of them to some degree, but probably haven’t given them too much deliberate thought because that would be really uncomfortable. So, what is bothering you about your current financial situation? Are you worried about your future because you have been contributing very little—or nothing at all—to retirement accounts? Have you racked up a lot of credit card debt and are afraid you’ll never pay it off? Are you afraid you won’t be able to support your family? Do you know your spending is out of control but you can’t seem to break the habit? How much debt do you have? How have you been spending your money? You need to do a thorough combing through of your finances at this point to see what you are dealing with. You have to admit there is a problem; you have to get out of denial.
Ignorance is Not Bliss When It Comes to Money
I think one of the reasons most of us are not as good with money as we could be is sheer lack of knowledge. We just haven’t educated ourselves. So much helpful information is simply not in our awareness, and if it did enter our mental orbit, we can put ourselves on a better financial path. So, start educating yourself about money. If you really understood what making minimum payments was costing you, or how even investing small amounts of money on a regular basis can add up due to the awesomeness of compound interest, you would approach your financial life in a much different way. You don’t need to become an expert or devote your life to the study of finances, but make an effort to learn more. There are lots of great resources—you’re reading one right now. Websites like Banking Sense, Daily Finance, and Kiplinger regularly feature insightful articles about finances, including a recent post about PayPal’s new small business loans program. In the age of the Internet, loads of helpful information is available within seconds.
You Gotta Start Somewhere
When it comes to tackling money issues, many take the stance of not doing anything until they can do it ‘big.’ Just investing a couple of hundred dollars seems so insignificant. Only sending 100 a month to the credit card company seems pointless–might as well just make the minimum payments. We envision some point where we will be able to put huge chunks of money towards these types of goals, and then we will make a move. But, this time has yet to come, and retirement accounts sit empty and your debt has barely budged. You have to start somewhere—just do something that makes you feel like you are finally addressing the problem. It will make you feel really good, and will give you some momentum. Your money habits are not based on genetic code embedded in your DNA—they have become so deeply ingrained, it can certainly seem that way. But ‘being bad with money’ is not something you have been cursed with, it is borne of habits. It can be changed. If you follow these three steps, you are well on your way to changing your money story. You can do it…just make that decision. That is all you really need to do to get the ball rolling.