How do you feel about your finances? If things are going well, you probably feel very optimistic about your finances, but thanks to the recent recession and housing market collapse a lot of people in America are feeling frustrated about their financial situation. This is especially true for people who are “in the red” while they are paying off credit card debt or paying off their student loans. But the problem is, pessimism or other negative emotions are not likely to help with motivation. On the contrary, studies have consistently found that positive feelings such as hope and optimism are more likely to result in action.
Even if your money situation is not ideal, there is still a path for addressing it constructively. So let’s take a look at some ways to make your financial situation a positive part of your life rather than a negative one.
Let Go of Your Past Mistakes
“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” said Frank Sinatra. And let’s be honest — most of us of us would agree with him. It seems that making mistakes is part of being human. If you’ve ever experienced not being able to make your mortgage payment or falling short on your budget at the end of the month, you know what I mean. So with that in mind, the first step toward having a positive view of your finances is to forgive yourself for past mistakes. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn from them. It’s very important to take the right lessons from our mistakes so we can do better in the future. But continuing to beat ourselves up over our previous errors isn’t helping anyone.
Instead, start focusing your thoughts on the good things you’ve done and your financial strengths. Look at opportunities you have because of good decisions. For example, if you have a steady income, if you have any money saved in your retirement fund, or if you have paid off any of your debt, you can congratulate yourself on these accomplishments. While it may seem silly to celebrate such things, it’s actually one way to motivate yourself to make more progress!
Also keep in mind that no matter how bad you might think you have it, or no matter what challenges you face, there are probably some strengths and opportunities that you don’t even realize you have. Even someone like Dave Ramsey, the well-known financial guru, went through bankruptcy himself before finding a path to success. You can do it too if you forgive your past mistakes!
Turn That Frown… Into a Plan
Now that you are not focusing on the past, what can you focus on? Well, the future, of course! It’s time to make a plan that will help you be optimistic about where you’re headed. Decide what your big-time goal is: Is it getting out of debt? Saving up for a new home? Retiring early? Whatever your goal is, make a plan – and put it in writing – to describe exactly how you will achieve your goal. If your goal is to pay off all your credit cards and become debt free, then decide which card you will pay off first and how much you will pay each month. Then start keeping track! If you For example, there are tools like ReadyForZero that can help Christians (and anyone) get out of debt.
Once you have your plan, then the trick is sticking with it. Check in at the end of every month to make sure you are on track. As you progress with your plan each month, you can also update it to reflect any new circumstances or changes to your budget. That way, you will still feel like you’re in charge. You’ll be surprised at how much the certainty of having a plan will motivate you. You’ll feel more confident about what you need to do, and that confidence will drive you get it done.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Humans are social creatures and we need support. You’d be amazed at how much it can help just to share your struggles and your goals with someone who cares about you. Many times, when you tell a friend or family member what you’d like to do (i.e. “save up for a home,” “get out of debt,” etc.) they will become your biggest cheerleader. They won’t let you give up on your goal. And that’s a good thing. From then on, the moments when you feel like you want to give up, you’ll think of them and your desire to not let them down will keep you going.
Fake it Til You Make It
Believe it or not, there is some truth to this old saying. If you consciously try to take on a positive attitude about your finances there is a very good chance you will start feeling more optimistic about your situation. It sounds like magic, but it is actually true, and it has to do with how our brains work. Whatever the reason, you can use it to your advantage. If you are discouraged by your debt, start today to constantly recite a positive message in your head about how you will get out of debt. Instead of saying to yourself, “I’m such a bad and irresponsible person for getting in debt” say “I’m a good person who is facing a very common challenge and I’m going to work hard to become debt free.” Try it – you might be amazed by the results!
Having a positive view of your finances can make such a difference in your life. Hopefully the tips in this post will help you and give you the confidence you need to keep striving and to achieve your goals, whatever they may be.