Finding Financial Freedom: Stick to Small Goals to See Big Changes

Beginning your journey to financial freedom is challenging: not only are you researching and deciding on the budgeting, investing, and savings tools that work for you in theory, but to really make it work in practice, you must also master the art of discipline. If you live paycheck to paycheck, it’s easy to assuage your anxieties about tomorrow with small, gratifying rewards today. But achieving small goals can have the same effect as indulging in small treats that, in the long run, don’t do anything for you. Here are three ways to hack your motivation right now to stay on your hustle.

Tinker with Your Budget Every Pay Period

For many, getting a handle on your monthly budget is the first step in gaining control of your finances. But what if you’ve dutifully planned your month long budget only to find that you’ve mismanaged some aspect that throws it all off for the rest of the month? This is when the mission to get organized and on task can fall apart, and it’s all too easy to shrug it off with the best intention to ‘start again next week.’ Motivation masters (and, for most of us, reality) informs us that failure is inevitable. Budgets will get off course. Our attitude towards our failures and how quickly we get back on track will determine our long term success. Try working on your budget every pay period. You’ll feel in control of where your money is going by looking at it more often, and you’ll give yourself more opportunities to put off meaningless spending by convincing yourself you’ll get it next time.

Pay Yourself First, Every Time

Maybe you like to see one account grow, or maybe you’re a multiple bucket saver. Either way, you get a hit of motivation each time you see that number grow, so be an active participant in your savings and investment plans. Yes, automatic savings plans are great, but if a hands-off approach doesn’t keep you engaged in your financial journey, start doing it manually every paycheck. After you have planned your pay period budget, put whatever you can away, thinking of it as a payment to yourself. This will remind you of what you are really working for.

Pick One Debt to Tackle at a Time

Of course you need to keep making payments on all your accounts to keep them current. If you don’t have much room beyond the minimum payments, focus on one debt to take down at a time. Experts suggest two ways: either pay off the debt with the highest interest rate or the smallest debt. Pick one debt and focus on that until you’ve crushed it and can move on. Just like looking at the small progress you’re making with your budget and your savings by taking on a short-term strategy, your motivation will stay elevated because you are seeing the changes every two or four weeks.