It can be frustrating when you are trying to reach a goal or change something about your financial situation, but somehow you keep sticking to the same habits. Things are not changing for you. This lack of change can happen whether you are trying to lose weight, get out of debt, or make any lifestyle changes. You might find yourself stuck—or experience signs you should handle your money better. You may feel the changes you are making do not seem to help you reach your financial goals. If so, you may need to take some financial challenges starting with the following steps to make a real change.
Get a Second Opinion
It may be that you are going about your budget in the wrong way or setting unrealistic expectations that you cannot reach. When you do not reach those expectations, the smaller changes you are trying to make will disappear as well. It can help you to have someone outside of the situation look at the issues and see if your goals and budget are on track. Reach out to a family member or friend, take a class, or visit a financial counselor.
Switch to Cash
One of the best ways to change your spending habits is to pay with cash instead of credit or debit cards. It can make a psychological difference to hand over cash when you pay. It also makes it easy to know when you are out of money. If you switch to cash, you should consider using the envelope method. You will divide your cash into different envelopes, with each envelope representing a category. When you are out of money, you stop spending in that category for the month.
The first month or two may be an adjustment, but your spending should begin to quickly get under control. You may also want to start budgeting, especially if you haven't before.
Change Your Routine and Habits
Just like with any major lifestyle change, if you want to make lasting financial changes, you will need to change your habits. You need to recognize where you are sabotaging yourself from succeeding financially. It helps to know the habits that broke people tend to have. One of the easiest ways to do this is to change your routine. If you are always tempted to eat out because you are tired after work, cook ahead using a slow cooker or cook over the weekends and freeze the meals.
If you spend a lot of money on the weekends because you like to go shopping, find a less expensive activity that you enjoy doing. Even changing the way that you drive to work can help you change your financial habits. It helps if you know what your problem times or areas are so you can focus on changing those first.
Find a Support System
It can be difficult to cut back on your spending or to work an extra job to improve your situation. It can help if you have a support system that is supporting the changes that you are making. You may need to change the types of activities you are doing with your friends. You mustn't feel like you have to keep up with your friends as you work toward your financial goals. If your friends are not supportive of your changes, you may need to find another group of people that are more willing to support your goals.
Think Outside of the Box
If the changes you have tried to make in the past are not working for you, you need to try something else. For example, if you are struggling to pay off your debt, but you can only make minimum payments, debt consolidation may help you gain traction, especially with credit card debt. If you want to increase your savings, but you find yourself dipping back into it each month, then setting up an online savings account that takes longer to transfer money back into your account may help you better manage your money.
Keep Trying to Change
It can be challenging to make lasting changes. Part of the process is going to be making mistakes and slipping up. It is important that after you that that, you still keep working on your budget and working toward your financial goals. The constant checkup can prevent you from lying to yourself about your finances. As you keep making changes, you will eventually start saving and reach your financial goals.