There is no magical shortcut on the road to financial independence. Intellectually, most of us know that the way to achieve lasting financial success is by living within your means. However, when you’re struggling and in the middle of a rough financial stretch, it can seem overwhelming to the point of giving up.
So in honor of National Encouragement Day, here are 5 ways to hopefully give you some FINANCIAL encouragement, no matter where you find yourself on the road to financial security.
Decide to do it (and know you can)
The first step in feeling financially empowered is to decide that you will do it. Decide to make that step. No matter where you are, decide what’s important to you and decide to make it happen. That might be creating a budget, starting an emergency fund, or deciding to open up your first retirement account.
When you make the decision, don’t keep it yourself. Write it down and tell your trusted friends and family. Let them know that they can help keep you accountable. It may seem scary at first but you can do this.
Decide where you want to be in 3-5 years (and write it down!)
Another step that can really get you where you want to go, is spend some time thinking about some medium to long-term planning. Sit down with your spouse, family or a trusted friend and decide where you see yourself a few years down the road. Making sure that you are on the same page with others inside your financial circle is a great first step.
Don’t be afraid to think big. Three to five years is a long time, and you might be amazed at what you can accomplish. Once you decide on your vision, make sure to write it down. Put it in a place where you will see it often, and tell others that you trust. If you keep your vision and goals inside your head, they become much more difficult to achieve. A goal that isn’t written down is just a dream.
Commit to a small, achievable goal
While it’s good to have a long-term vision of where you want to be, it’s also important to break up those longer-term goals into smaller, more actionable steps. Many people have a goal to get out of debt, as an example. Let’s say that you have $40,000 in debt that you want to pay off in the next three years. If you do the math, that means that on average you would need to pay off $1,111 per month, or $256 each week. Take a look at your budget and decide if that’s reasonable and if so, how you’re going to do it. Oh, and did I mention that you should write it down?
Don’t forget to celebrate your wins, even if they’re small wins — ESPECIALLY if they’re small. Making sure to take time to celebrate your successes gives you the positive reinforcement to keep going until you’ve reached your ultimate goal.
Connect Your Accounts For Automated Bill Pay
One piece of practical advice to get you on the right financial path is to connect all of your different accounts in one place. Being able to see your bank account, car loans, mortgage, credit cards and student loans all in one place can help you manage your finances at a glance. Another great step is to set your accounts up to automatically pay recurring bills. That way you don’t ever have to worry about late fees or missing a payment.
Financial quotes to inspire your journey
And our final way to feel financially empowered is to draw inspiration from these quotes as you look to plan and secure your future. Remember that no matter what your situation is, the chances are good that someone else has gone through it before. They got through it and so can you
- “It’s better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.” — Jackie Joyner-Kersee
- “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” — Dave Ramsey
- “There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.” — Marlene Dietrich
- “No one’s ever achieved financial fitness with a January resolution that’s abandoned by February.” — Suze Orman
- “If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.” — Edmund Burke
- “You cannot predict the future, but you can create it.” — Peter Drucker
- “Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.” — PT Barnum
You can do this — no matter where you are on the road to financial success, and no matter what financial success means to you. An ancient proverb states that “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” Make the decision today to make one more step towards a solid financial future.
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.