So this lesson is probably going to make more sense to girls than guys, but I feel this is the important thing in finance.
You have to set it up and leave it alone. Make a plan and automate it.
Start small, $5 if you have to, going into your savings account or leave it there. There is no emergency food craving that is worth going into the money.
I’ve spent the last two years growing out my hair, after a wild phase where I decided that I could have blue hair. I worked at a call center that didn’t mind because well, I smelled fine and did well on the calls. Trust me when I said that my hair was pretty much the norm. It was great. But as I’ve gotten older my hair color has decided to be less brassy looking and I actually like it now. So I’ve decided to give it a try and did all the research. Because I’ve had this dream of having waist-length hair for a really long time and I’m an adult and I can make my own decisions.
You want to know what the biggest thing is about letting your hair grow– That you don’t touch it all day long. You don’t let it rub against everything because that can cause breakage and then you look like a dog shedding when you vacuum (this has been a fact of my life since I was about 10). You do the right shampoo and conditioner and oil treatments. Set a schedule and follow it. You’re not going to see a lot of difference right away. But in a year, look back at where you were and suddenly you see the change. Your hair only grows about a half inch a month. But in a year, that’s six inches.
Your finances are the same way. You have to make a plan and stick to it. Set up the bills to autopay, make note of the days. Pay as you get paid–get paid Friday, pay on Monday–so that the money is there before you’re tempted to spend it. Find your money weaknesses and counter them. If you need a budget, make one. If you keep having surprise expenses look at the last year and find any others. If you have issues spending money on a credit card–don’t use it, use cash.
Bar Trick– bring enough cash for your drinks and keep your card in the car in case you do need a cab
You can’t constantly look at it every day and you’ll never see any change. Sure, check in once a month, make sure you have no split ends, take a snapshot to document the change this month, and then move on. Sure, look at your accounts and see that your net worth is a smaller negative number than last month. You’re still not where you want to be but you’ve made progress. The financial journey we go through life isn’t a one-stop shop and you get everything done at one time. It’s a process. I had to spend a year after a car accident to get back in the green, rather than just barely making it through the black to get all the bills paid. It’s stressful and I wish I’d reached this point six months ago, but I had a plan and made the changes to get my goals.
Thankfully, I work a job where I’m in control of how much I make and how long I work. For me, I’ve done the full 40 hour work week and I burned out on that. I just can’t do the same six things all day for five days at eight hours a day. I need variety. That’s the beauty of my current job. The only boss I have is my bank account saying ‘Feed Me’. I can work on my writing and feel more emotionally full, and sometimes I get a rant out about how drivers in this city should look at their blind spot.