Sometimes being “smart” with money can make you want to cry (at least it does this to me!) It is hard day after day to control your spending and look to the future, especially when it seems like everyone else is doing just fine.
So how do you keep focusing on the future without going crazy today?
- Forget about it for a while. Sometimes it helps to just have a day to feel like you are not restricted. Similar to the free day in your diet, a free day in your spending can help you get the little bit of splurge that you need. The caution with this is that you don’t want to let this force you to spend more than you make, you still need to make sure you are not blowing your budget. The way that I typically handle this is I will save for a few months and then use that money for my splurge day. For me this is typically with my clothing purchases. I buy my clothes for the year in a day or two and this amazingly eliminates the feeling of sacrifice.
- Focus on what you enjoy the most. I understand that you may not really enjoy any of it, but there has to be something that is a bit easier for you than the rest. Pick your favorite and then spend one of your money days on this item only. For me this is investments, by spending time reviewing investments and picking out new ones I become motivated to not only continue to save but also to find new ways to cut the budget to increase my savings.
- Manage your expectations. When we are bombarded with advertisements and easy access to seeing what others have (reality TV, blogs, etc) it can be easy for our expectations to be unbalance. Your expectations should be based on your income not that of the people on TV. It is also easy to set unrealistic expectations based on how you were raised. You will most likely not be able to immediately be in the same income position as your parents. You cannot expect to be able to spend like they do. It is unrealistic to lose 10 pounds in a day (and do it so you are still healthy). Likewise if you make $25,000 it is unrealistic to purchase a new outfit for every weekend or take lavish vacations. Adjust your expectations.
- Do not compare yourself to others. This goes along with managing your expectations. You have no idea where others stand with their money. You don’t know how indebt they may have gotten in order to “appear” rich. It is easy to believe everyone else is doing just fine when you do not see their outward money struggles. You can only compare yourself to you. Remember 42% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
- Remember why you are doing this. What are the chances social security will be available for you? Do you have a pension and know that it will be around when you need it? With the changes in retirement funding it is more important than ever for you to be working towards a solid future. If you don’t take the time to save and control your money today no one else will. Visualize what you want your retirement to look like. Once you have this in mind figure out what you would need in income each year to make this happen. Now time for the reality check: could you make this happen with what you are saving today? Put this vision on the wall, and remind yourself why sometimes the pain of being smart today will pay off in the future.
Being smart with your money is not always easy, but it is always worth it.