While determining an investment strategy or purchasing insurance might be complicated, not everything related to creating a sound financial future has to be. In fact, there are plenty of small but substantial habits you can adopt now in order to place yourself firmly on the path to financial stability.
Shifting existing money habits can be challenging, but once these five new habits are adopted, you’ll likely notice a decrease in money stress and a more positive outlook on your overall financial picture.
If you’re ready to get moving towards a more certain and solid financial future, start here.
Make Saving Automatic
If left to our own devices, most of us wouldn’t save. Or, we’d save significantly less than we are actually able to. It’s simply too hard to routinely pick delayed gratification over instant gratification.
Instead of struggling to save what’s left at the end of each month, change how you treat your savings. The amount and day you pay your mortgage is non-negotiable – and your savings should be the same way.
Whether it’s a direct deposit into your savings or retirement account on payday or a scheduled transfer from your checking account on a designated day each month, decide on a system that treats padding your short and long-term savings as a necessity — just like any other bill.
You’d be surprised how much you can accumulate when you take routine decision-making out of the process.
Create a System for Checking In
Set it and forget it might be a method that works for a lot of things, but not when it comes to establishing a solid financial future.
You are an integral part of the process, and you need to ensure you’re paying attention each step of the way. Take a moment each day, or every few days, to review your accounts and monitor your spending. Knowing your money is going where it should be going based on a budget you’ve established for yourself will allow you to catch spending or billing problems before they become a larger issue.
In addition, staying on top of your accounts will ensure you are more in tune with spending habits that might not be serving you in the long run.
Get Used to Living on Less
Instead of looking at what you’re bringing in as an indicator of what you should be spending, look at your bills and regular spending to determine what you are actually able to live on comfortably.
Knowing this number and becoming accustomed to sticking to that monthly ceiling will allow you to pocket extra money – bonuses, pay raises, etc. – instead of automatically resorting to lifestyle inflation simply because you can.
It’s not about deprivation, it’s simply about being intentional and living on what you’ve already deemed comfortable. This will provide a financial cushion like not many other things can.
Spending mindlessly is the quickest and easiest way to find yourself in a mountain of debt before you even realize what’s going on.
Therefore, it’s essential to get into the habit of questioning and rethinking purchases you might have otherwise made on impulse.
One way to do this is to give yourself a mandatory “cool off” period before all purchases over a certain price. Just like any food craving, this desire to buy will generally dissipate with time.
Intentional spending will not only save your wallet, it will also make you determine what actually adds value to your life.
Know Where You Want to Go
Setting off on a path without a destination in mind can lead to a lot of fruitless wandering.
When it comes to finances, the destination is best determined by financial goals – both big and small. Using these goals as a way to chart your path – like determining how much you should be socking away each month to reach an early retirement, for example – can lead to consistent progress.
So checking in on these goals, and setting new ones monthly, quarterly or yearly, is essential to ensure you keep on trucking towards a sound and stable future.