With the New Year fast approaching, many begin to think of what they would like to accomplish during that time. That motivation is usually quite high in the first few weeks and months, but many encounter difficulties or have trouble staying focused and motivated for the entire time period. Keeping yourself on track can be difficult, but there are a number of different ways to keep yourself motivated as you’re trying to save money:
Write a List
Writing a list can be a great way to keep yourself focused throughout the year. This list can account for any number of things, from how much you want to save each week to what accounts you want to deposit your savings into. Even keeping a list of monthly expenditures and finances can help keep you on track. If you’re someone who works better when you have a list to focus on, this should be your first step.
Set Long-Term Goals
One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is to set long-term savings goals. Having a specific goal at the end of the year will make you more eager to put money away. Whether your long-term goal is to save over a year or two years or even five years, having something specific in mind to save for is a great motivator.
Set Short-Term Goals
Additionally, having a list of short-term goals is a great motivator as well. Many times it seems easier to aim for fulfilling short term-goals because they’re more feasible than the ultimate long-term goal. Creating a number of “baby step” goals that can be achieved over a shorter period can be another great way to keep yourself focused and motivated to save money.
Keep a Financial Journal
It really helps to write things down to maintain long-term motivation. Just as making lists helps with this, so does keeping a financial journal. Having one will help you keep track of what you earn, what you spend, and how much you save each month. Sometimes writing down how much money you spend or save per week can do a lot to make you realize your spending habits and adjust them accordingly.
Allow for Bad Days
No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, you always need to allow yourself room for bad days. There are going to be days or weeks where you can’t save money, and that’s okay. Don’t let the frustration from a few setbacks derail you from your overall goals. You don’t have to be putting aside money every day or even every week. Sometimes you may need to put money towards an emergency instead. Even if you plan on making yourself follow a strict schedule, you have to make sure to allow yourself some breathing room. If you can’t save one month, maybe put aside a little extra the next time you can save. When you are able to let the inevitable setbacks happen without them making you feel like you have failed, you’re much more likely to stay motivated.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you also need to reward yourself. Sometimes people can go overboard with savings money, thinking only about the future and completely disregarding the present. Everyone needs to reward themselves or splurge on an item they want or need every once in awhile. Plus, rewarding yourself along the way is a great way to keep yourself motivated.
Focus On One (Or More) Motivational Factors
Focusing on a motivational factor can also be a great way to stick to a financial plan. You may want to pay down debt or find a new form of income. Or you may want to buy something nice for yourself after you’ve saved a certain amount of money. Focusing on these factors will help you keep your eye on the prize.
Read Financial Literature
Reading financial literature can also be a great way to keep yourself financially motivated. Plenty of articles, journals, and magazines focus on different savings or investing tips, and they may give you a few new ideas on how to better save your money. Plus, it’s a good idea to keep up with current news and events. You never know what new article or piece of information will help you out.
Find Yourself a Support group
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to have a group of people who will support you and your financial goals. it’s great if you can find one in your local community, but it’s not essential with the Internet. Start hanging out in a personal finance forum, ask questions, help others and become a part of the community. They will help cheer you on with your successes and be there to pick you back up and steer you in the right direction when things don’t go as planned. These groups can be a great motivational base to have as you travel your journey.
Give Yourself Weekly Challenges
If you’re someone who enjoys challenging yourself, why not challenge yourself when it comes to saving money? This can be something as simple as a weekly savings challenge or to go a day or two without spending any money. There are plenty of different, creative ways to challenge yourself when it comes to saving money. Set weekly or monthly goals to keep yourself interested and motivated in your financial plans for the year.
Try Money Related Apps
There are also a great many computer or phone apps that are geared towards helping you make and save money. Having an app that tracks your spending and savings habits can be a good way to keep yourself on top of your game, plus those that can help you make money may thicken your wallet.
(Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo)