Life is filled with money spending moments. When you rent a new apartment, get married, or have a kid, new expenses will come. TV is filled with advertisements for companies that want your money, ranging from deals on cars to a new burrito from Taco Bell. Money, money, money; its what makes the world goes round. To do anything anymore seems to cost money. Prices of college seem to be going up, food is becoming more expensive, and hanging out doesn’t mean chilling in your parent’s basement playing pool with your friends. Then there is the stupid stuff we spend money on. Steve Martin had this to say, “I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.”
Once again we come to the conclusion that life requires money and just to let you know, there is a very low probability that your money problems are going to be fixed via the lottery or a wealthy relative. (Sorry, Mr. Deeds is a fictional movie!) So for the everyday man, what do we do to be smart about our money? Everybody’s circumstances are different. So specific tips won’t work for everyone. But what I have are principles to give you guidance as you try to stay true to your financial New Years resolutions. If you apply these principles to your New Years resolutions, then you will have an opportunity to succeed!
Principle 1: Make a Goal
Goals, goals, goals. We hear about these all the time, until it makes us sick. But goals are actually very important to success, if they are done right. I was talking with a successful life planner on how he helps people to succeed in their lives. He told me that goals are essential, but if they are done wrong they can be damaging. If someone makes a goal that seems so big and they never achieve it, then eventually they will give up. It is important to have smaller goals first. When you accomplish a few of your smaller goals, it gives you confidence and belief. For example, lets just say your goal was to become debt free by the end of the year. For some people this might not be possible, and by not accomplishing the goal, this could be detrimental. So maybe make the goal smaller, something like “I won’t go out to eat for a month”, or “I will save this much more from my paycheck”. Knowledge that goals can be achieved is just as important as making those goals.
A bonus tip with goals is to avoid the ever-easy deception of comparison. When you compare your situation with others, all it brings is misery and wishful thinking. The key is to compare your old self and where you are now. Look at the growth and the goals that you have accomplished over time. This will help you become more successful.
So many people spend elaborate time and resources creating goals but then they end up not accomplishing them. A huge cause of this is that they forget about their goals. Goals need to be checked and evaluated daily. Start the day thinking, “How am I going to accomplish my goal today?” and end the day thinking “How did I work towards accomplishing my goal today?” Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
Don’t keep your goals to yourself. Without someone to be accountable to, it can be easier to give up and go back to your old habits. When you have someone to be accountable to, it gives you extra motivation because there is another person you don’t want to disappoint. For more goal tips, click here.
I hope goals don’t sound so dreary to you now. Instead, I hope you think about goals with the same alacrity as Spanish soccer announcers whenever they see a goal!
Principle 2: Put the future in front of the now
Self-discipline is KEY to financial success. The popular cliché “keeping up with the Jones” is something that needs to be avoided at all costs. It can be easy to say “my neighbors has this ‘new toy’, so I want the same or better one than they do”. This is a recipe to high spending now and high debt in the future. In life we must learn that sometimes it is better to give up our wants now so we can have success in our future. I understand, this can be tough! I personally love WaWa, and if I could do so, would go out to eat there every day. But even though the meatball hoagie and TastyKakes taste wonderful in my belly, they would damage my bank account horribly.
Antoine Walker is an example of someone who lacked self-discipline by spending a lot of money in the moment. Antoine Walker was a basketball star that over the course of his career made $110 million. Yes, you’re reading that right, $110 MILLION! During his career, Walker would end up spending money on women, real estate, cars, and clothes. Money wasn’t a worry to him, because he had a bunch and would never run out. Well, Antoine Walker was wrong, he did run out and found himself extremely in debt. Antoine Walker is now 37, no longer in the NBA, and broke. This example goes to show, that no matter how much money you make, if you aren’t smart with it, you will have financial woes later on in life.
Principle 3: Word Hard
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” The principle of work is critical to success. After all is said and done, if you don’t go and work then you’re going to be in trouble. This means putting your all into your jobs, and your all into helping yourself financially.
According to a report this October, the PEW research center stated that 50% of people felt “working hard” was important for getting ahead in life. Working hard was the second highest on the scale out of seven categories which included “knowing the right people,” “being lucky,” and “belonging to a wealthy family.” The only attitude that seemed more important than working hard was “having a good education.”
Getting yourself to financial stability is a process that goes on throughout your life. Be smart and apply these principles of using goals, putting the future first, and working hard, which will move you towards financial success this year!