I was thinking as I took my walk the other day about personal finances (yet another indication of what a personal finance geek I am). I think one of the biggest problems that people have when it comes to personal finances is that when they first start to look at them, they want a quick fix (isn’t that the American way?). While there are certainly steps that you can take to reduce what you’re spending, many of them painless, it’s the way that you live your daily life that probably matters most when it comes to getting your personal finances in order.
It’s not that people don’t know what things will save them money, it’s that they often don’t implement the changes into their lifestyle. You probably know that if you take the time to check your tires to make sure they are properly inflated once a month, you can save money. You know that making your own coffee will cost less than buying it at the local coffee shop. You know that it is cheaper to make dinner at home rather than eating out. You know that it saves money to turn off your computer when you aren’t using it rather than leaving it on. Chances are, however, that even though you know these things, you haven’t incorporated them into your lifestyle.
While the individual habits in themselves may not seem like much, when they are all added together, they can add up to quite a bit of money each year. In fact, for most people it’s probably the difference between having to borrow money or being able to save money each moth. Most of these are simply daily habits and it probably doesn’t even cross your mind one way or the other whether or not you’re saving money when you do them. It is important, however, to learn what these daily habits are and to change the ones that can be changed with little or no pain.
The key here is that even though the actual act of doing something different may not be difficult in itself, breaking yourself out of the habit of doing it the other way can be extremely difficult. Habits are habits because you have become accustomed to doing them time and again. It is never easy to change things which have become ingrained without a conscious effort to do so.
Even reading this, you are probably saying to yourself that it makes sense and should be easy, but the chances are that after reading this, you will fail to act to change any of the things that you currently do. Change usually makes people uncomfortable and unless they have a compelling reason to change, they probably won’t do so.
While all this may sound negative, there is also a huge positive in it all. If you can change a money wasting habit into a habit that saves money, you are likely to continue to do it. It will get ingrained into your daily habits and eventually you will do it that way without even thinking about it.
I challenge you to take a look at yourself in detail this week. Look at the things that you do on a daily basis and how they affect your finances. Then think if there is a way that you can change that habit so that it doesn’t cause you any more time or effort, but can save you money. If you can find one or two a week and make the change (and eventually turn it into your habit), I will bet that you finances look a whole lot rosier in a year’s time than they do at this moment no matter where your current finances may fall…