You know there are a lot of external forces threatening to keep you from achieving your dreams. We all feel the pressure to earn and save, and the obstacles we face are obvious.
But what about the not-so-obvious antagonist within ourselves? Do you have any spending habits that sabotage your own progress? If so, take heart. It's possible to break bad spending habits and achieve lasting change. Here's how.
First, you need to know your most common pitfalls. This will look different than your neighbor's (or spouse's, or co-worker's), so take some time and be honest with yourself. Pull out the last 6 months of credit card statements and highlight any spending you really regret. What really weakens your resolve? This exercise will help you identify it.
Next, mentally replay the scenario just before each purchase in your mind. What were you doing before you blew the budget? What made you decide to spend? Write it down for every highlighted expenditure.
Your resultant list shows you your triggers. Triggers are those things in life that convince you your savings goals aren't worth the temporary pain of going without.
Now that you know your triggers, it's time to replace them with healthy alternatives. This could look different for each trigger, but here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Brown bagging your lunch so when your co-workers ask you to go out, you already have the answer.
- Block your favorite shopping website from your own computer. Give a friend the password so you're locked out for good.
- Route your daily commute away from fast-food restaurants, flashy car dealerships, or whatever else draws your eye.
- Spend the buck-a-week for ad-free radio if the ads have made you buy something you later regret.
Robert Puller may have said it best when he said, "Good habits, once established are just as hard to break as are bad habits." It's so true; once you're in your new rhythm, you won't feel so inclined to break out and self-sabotage again. Sure, you'll still face temptations, but for every good choice you make over time, the stronger you'll become in the face of those temptations.
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