Ten Helpful Strategies for Teaching Financial Self-Control

If you are anything like me, you are incredibly tempted several times a day to spend money on something that you really do not need.

This post was originally published on The Simple Dollar .

Maybe it’s a bottle of Gatorade at the store or at the vending machine. Maybe it’s an online purchase. Maybe that’s another $ 5 in tokens for any of your favorite mobile games. Maybe it’s a Starbucks latte. Maybe it’s lunch with one of your colleagues. Maybe it’s a Netflix subscription bill.

Be that as it may, you spend a few dollars on it – or maybe a few more dollars. And then you forget about it.

This happens over and over and over for a month, and by the end of the month, you wonder where all the money went.

“How can we go broke? How can we make so much money and not save anything ? “

The reason this is happening can be summed up in three simple words: lack of self-control . Over and over again, you make short-term choices in a given spending situation without thinking about long-term choices. Long-term choices are harder to make, but over the course of life, they are almost always the best choices — self-control helps you make those long-term choices.

Breaking out of the routine in which you constantly make short-term choices is difficult. It’s easy to get used to the little treats you want, as soon as you want them.

However, if you are reading this article, you have noticed the dark side of lack of self-control. In the end, you have very little left. You are not making progress towards any big goals, and it is possible that you are drowning in a pit of credit card debt. You are not sure where all the money is going, but you are also very unsure about your own behavior.

You feel out of control. You have big long-term goals, but they are simply constantly undermined by your short-term choices (most of which you mostly forget) and the feeling that money (and, in a lesser sense, time) is simply disappearing. …

What are you doing?

Here are ten things you can do. These strategies have helped me – and many others – get rid of myriad financial problems over the years. They have helped us regain self-control over the years and have restored the feeling of being in a driver role in our financial lives again, effectively moving towards the financial goals we set for ourselves.

Give these strategies a genuine try. You will be glad you did.

Strategy # 1 – Stop Making Excuses

Here’s the cold, harsh truth: Every time you buy something you don’t need, you undermine your future. You take dollars from in order to control your financial situation and plan your future, and instead give them to what you need at the moment.

Whenever you try to justify your choice, you are justifying why you can’t get your financial life back on track. Maybe it’s just a little thing. Maybe this is what you really, really, really want. Maybe worth buying to impress someone.

In the end, however, it all returns to the same cold and harsh truth: you chose a short-term, forgettable desire, not building a financial future for yourself.

If you really want to have a strong financial future, stop making excuses for that short-term desire. Stop making excuses for it. Begin to understand that every time you make this choice, it means failure in terms of your financial future.

Yes, sometimes it will be a good choice to listen to your short-term voice and pursue it, but times when it is a good choice are few and far between when your financial home is in disarray and your financial future is in poor shape. doubt. Stop making excuses. Start making better choices every time you pass the time.

Strategy # 2 – Ask yourself, “Will this help me survive?” When it comes to every purchase

One of the biggest challenges to financial control over your life is keeping a close eye on every purchase you make, be it cash or credit. Do you really need this item? Will it help you survive ? Is there a less expensive option that can help you survive in the same way?

You should ask this question about every purchase you make. You must ask this question about each individual item that you add to your shopping cart. You must ask this question for every account and every line in it .

If the answer is no, buying this is nothing more than throwing away your plans to control debt and build some sort of financial future. If the answer is yes, you should immediately ask yourself if there is a less costly option to achieve the same goal.

Self-control comes from sincerely considering the negative consequences of every step you take. Self-control comes from making the difficult choice to say no to what you used to say yes to without thinking. Self-control is there when you really understand the moments when you can say yes, but know that the rest of the time you are much better off saying no.

It all starts with asking the question over and over again, with every penny spent.

Will it help me survive?

Strategy # 3 – Live on Cash Only – No Credit

One of the main reasons companies are promoting credit cards so much – and setting such high credit limits for users with decent credit history – is because it distracts the user from how much money they are actually spending. When you buy something with a credit card, cash doesn’t change hands, so it’s easy to abstract from that and just assume that you have “enough” if the credit card transaction goes through.

This is a recipe for trouble, especially for people who just pay their credit card bill every month and don’t think about the consequences of their purchase until one day they realize that their minimum credit card bills are huge , these bills and other debts are huge. holding them back from the things they want or need to do, and it will be many years before they can pay them off. This is a disaster caused by a lack of composure when it comes to spending.

The solution, however, is simple: switch to cash only . Stop using your credit card altogether for a while. If you don’t have money in your checking account to cover your expenses, skip it. If you find yourself running out of money before the end of the month, figure out how to get to the end, and then use this lesson to make smarter choices next month.

Financial self-control is similar to cycling, and the transition to a cash-only lifestyle is very similar to learning how to ride a bike with learning wheels. After all, when you know what you are doing, you can remove the training wheels and use credit wisely again, but for now, if you can’t make ends meet and are dealing with credit card bills, it’s time to simplify your life and ditch credit. cards for a year or two.

Strategy # 4 – Visit alluring places with no money or credit cards in hand

Most people with financial self-control difficulties realize that there are certain places where they are more likely to make bad decisions and spend money on short-term desires without thinking about the consequences. Coffee house. Book store. Electronics store. Clothing store. Where are your weak points?

Some might think that this is sound advice to just avoid these places, but it doesn’t really teach you self-control. It just teaches you to avoid.

A much better approach is to visit these tempting places occasionally, but still place very tight limits on what you can spend there. Don’t bring your credit or debit card with you. Don’t take cash at all unless you go there for a very specific item; in that case, take enough money to buy that particular item.

The process of doing this, especially multiple times, teaches you how to get to these places, succumb to temptation, and resist that temptation . This resistance to temptation is the foundation of self-control.

Strategy # 5 – Focus on Participation, Not Buying

Many busy people often buy things out of a desire to keep in touch with a hobby or passion that they really don’t have time for. For example, a person may be an avid reader, but there is little time in their life for focused reading, which he or she really loves, so instead that person buys the books they would like to read as a kind of “substitute”. Execution.

If you find yourself buying things to do a hobby you love but can’t find time for it, consider changing your schedule and making time for the hobby. Spend less time on distractions and wastes of time like browsing the Internet and television, and instead focus on actually getting involved in the things you want you to have more time for. Hack the book. Go fishing. Build a new chair in your woodworking workshop. Make a scrapbook from your scrapbooking supplies in your closet. Go hiking.

Do something. Do not buy anything as a weak substitute for anything. If you don’t have time for something, then take a close look at the time that you are wasting and exclude some of the time that you are wasting. Actual participation in what you are passionate about can be incredibly effective in getting rid of the urge to spend money on more and more things for that passion as a “substitute” for participation. In other words, actually read this stack of books and don’t buy new ones to add to it.

Strategy # 6 – Choose Social Interactions Wisely

Quite often, people go “into the city” or meet others for social events outside the home, which end up revolving around clubs, restaurants, shops or businesses that strongly encourage spending. You can go out for lunch with friends, then go to the movies, then go to the bar, and before you know it, an evening with friends has pulled $ 100 out of your wallet. You can spend the day with your friends, but it will eventually lead to endless shopping and waste of money.

Beware of such social events. You don’t need to spend money to chat with your friends. Try to find other activities to do while you socialize, whether at home or in a place where spending is not really part of your experience, such as playing football in a local park or having a picnic somewhere.

Some of your “friends” may oppose this. In this case, it is quite easy to determine which people on your social calendar are more interested in walking and spending money, and which are more interested in communicating with you . Those who consistently choose to go out and spend money are friendships that you can safely minimize in your life.

Strategy # 7 – Track Your Spending Very Carefully and Check It Out

One of the main reasons people lose control over their spending and feel like they’re out of control is because they don’t have one centralized place to really look at their spending and see where they are going. money. You can alleviate this by keeping a close eye on your spending, recording and categorizing every dollar that goes out of your life.

To this day, I track my spending very carefully with You Need a Budget 4 . Others use tools like Mint or Quicken to achieve similar results. You can even do the same with a pocket notebook and spreadsheet program. The purpose of each tool is the same – to record every penny spent, sort it by category, and view those expenses to see which areas you are spending too much on.

Such reviews are almost always eye-opening. People almost always spend a lot more on things than they think, and simply looking at the monthly amount you’ve spent in a convenience store, Google Play store, or Amazon can often really shock you.

Take some time to seriously think about the areas of spending that have shocked you the most. Have you really gained that much value in life from these purchases? Probably no. How much of your spending in a particular store or on a particular type of product could be reduced? Most likely a little.

Strategy # 8 – Automate Basic Savings and Pay G / L bills

This is the old pay-yourself-first strategy, which means that you take care of important things like paying off debt and saving for the future first, and then figure out how to live with what’s left.

The easiest way to do this is through automation. Ask the bank to send an automatic payment to your credit card (the one you are not currently using … remember the previous strategies) that exceeds your minimum monthly payment. Have money automatically deducted from your check and placed in your 401 (k) (or start a Roth IRA and cash will come straight from your check after every paycheck is received).

The more automatic you do these things, the better. Some people with irregular salaries may not be able to fully automate this, but you should be able to do this sort of thing with one or two clicks using online bill payment, so make sure you have the tools to do it.

Strategy # 9 – Seek Help from Your Most Trusted Friends and Family

If you have a close circle of friends and family that you trust, they can be incredibly helpful when it comes to this kind of personal change.

First, they can be useful sources of advice tailored specifically to your situation and your personal qualities. They know you. They probably have at least some idea of ​​what drives you, and sometimes even more than you. This can lead to very helpful and very specific advice that is right for you .

Plus, having someone who cares deeply about you as a personal support and confidante during a time when you are making some difficult life changes and life choices can be very inspiring. Just talking to someone who will listen to you can help you cope with these life changes. Having someone happy to spend time with you doing nothing at all or exploring new activities that cost you nothing can also be very rewarding.

You can also find a very good role model in this combination. Perhaps you have friends or family members who have achieved the financial goals you want to achieve, and you can use them as mentors to guide you along the same path. You can also take their brains and learn from their experiences.

Close friends and family members can provide all of these, and all of these can be very helpful during a major change in personal habits.

Strategy # 10 – Don’t Give Up If You Make One or Two Mistakes

Guess what? You will make a spending mistake or two while you figure it out. You are about to buy something without thinking about it. You are about to make a purchase that you later regret. You will feel that none of this is possible.

First of all, don’t worry. Financial progress, like progress in everything else in life, is often two steps forward for each step back. You can take many steps back as you continue to move forward.

The goal is to do more than you have done before. If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up for it. Instead, ask why you made this mistake, and then try not to repeat that mistake. Reconsider the situation that led you to this error and see what you can do to avoid this situation in the future.

First of all, don’t give up on yourself. The journey is long. No long journey is complete without mistakes and setbacks.

Final thoughts

When you finally realize that your financial condition is completely out of control, you may feel overwhelmed. You often face significant debt, no idea where your money is going, and intense anxiety about your future at the same time, and this can add up to a dark place in life.

The goal of all these strategies is the same : it’s all about taking control again. It’s about figuring out again where your money is actually going, separating your needs from your desires, and figuring out which uses of your money really make sense. It is also about finding support for this change in your family, your friends and your social network, as well as in your personal use of time and energy.

If you work on these things together, you will find yourself surprisingly quickly regain control of your money, and you are ready to start on the path to debt relief and financial independence.

Good luck!

Ten Helpful Strategies for Teaching Financial Self-Control Simple dollar


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