1) Get Your Priorities In Order
If you don’t take the time to think about what’s really important to you in life, you’ll probably lose the motivation to stick with even the simplest money-saving strategies. Up until 5 years ago my husband and I ate take-out food all the time- breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we took the time to sit down together and talk about what was important to us, we realized that saving money so that I could work less and spend more time with our daughter was much, much more important to us than eating restaurant food. So we started eating home-cooked food for all three meals (packing our work lunches with us) and saved hundreds of dollars a month- and the best part is that we were so motivated to reach our goal that we hardly missed the take-out food that had seemed like such a necessity before. But what if we had eliminated the take-out food without having a goal first? I am absolutely certain we would have fallen off the bandwagon- we would have felt deprived, because we’d be thinking about all the great take-out food we were missing, instead of focusing on the goal we were trying to reach. Which is why the next section is about goals:
2) Set Your Goals
By setting goals, you’ll give yourself a clear idea of what you’d like to achieve. Instead of having vague notions of what you want (“It sure would be nice to have a newer car at some point… I really should be increasing my retirement contribution… It would be really cool to get an advanced certification in my field…“), goals give you a clear picture of what you want your future to look like: “I will pay for a newer car in cash within 5 years… Within 6 months I will increase my retirement contribution by $200 per month… Within two years I will obtain an advanced certification by enrolling in night school and online courses.” I find that writing down my goals makes them seem more real- suddenly, instead having a pie-in-the-sky daydream, I have a project that can be completed by taking it one step at a time. Don’t know what goals to set? Check out this post on goal-setting and you’re sure to come up with a few ideas. When you’ve set goals that you’re excited about, you’ll to be motivated to change your spending habits so that your money is spent in a way that supports your goals. Oh, and once you’ve set your goals, don’t forget the Three Basic Steps to Achieving Goals.
3) Read A Blog Or Magazine On A Regular Basis
A lot of times saving money means cutting back on luxuries. I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful I can end up feeling deprived when I tighten up the budget because I start focusing on what I’m not getting instead of focusing on what I’ll be able to achieve by saving money. Reading a money-saving blog or magazine is a great antidote to that, because you see concrete examples of how others have dealt with the ups and downs of managing their money. The Cash-Only Challenge Series is one of the most popular features on this blog because I chronicle how my husband and I deal with the transition from a credit card lifestyle to a cash-only lifestyle. I think it’s popular because reading about other people’s money issues can give you perspective about your own issues, and inspire you to keep working towards your financial goals.
There are a few great money-saving blogs out there, like The Simple Dollar and Money Saving Mom. Oh, and of course The Daily Citron! Click here to subscribe to the Email Newsletter, which I send out a couple times a month. O.K., back to recommendations: my favorite money-saving magazine is All You because it has lots of practical tips, but Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Money are also good because they contain advice about investing as well. Try to find one or two blogs or magazines that you enjoy, and read them regularly to keep yourself inspired.