What separates the financially successful from the financially doomed?
Two words: self-discipline.
Self-discipline is “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.” And when it comes to personal finance, self-discipline is what you can thank for your success — or your failure.
If self-discipline is one of the areas in which you’re lacking, it’s time to regain control. Here are four steps to help you develop financial self-discipline.
1. Stop Making Excuses
How many times have you set a big audacious goal only to find every reason in the world not to follow through? We’ve all been there.
Making excuses is easy. Blaming circumstances is easy. Following through is not.
Before becoming interested in personal finance, I thought credit cards were fun. After all, how nice is it to walk into a store and buy a flat screen TV? My nineteen-year-old self definitely thought it was pretty cool.
It was only after I maxed out my credit cards that I realized I was the one paying for the TV, and then some. I would tell myself “I’ll pay extra next month.” Next month always came around, and I always had the same excuse. Two years and many excuses later, I finally paid off a measly $1,500 in credit card debt.
Fortunately, I chalk this up as an experience that has encouraged me to make wiser financial decisions. Make sacrifices now; get rewarded later.
It’s time to stop making excuses. You’re the one in the driver’s seat, so take control.
2. Make a Plan
No matter what your financial situation is, you need a goal and a plan. If you want to pay off debt, set yourself a debt-free target date and calculate how much money you need to be paying each month.
If you’re trying to save money, tie an amount and a date to it. Giving your goals deadlines make them feel more real. You need concrete numbers to work towards. Break your big goals into monthly, weekly, and if applicable, daily goals. This is your plan.
3. Follow the Plan
Once you have the plan, it’s time to execute.
If you’ve made your goals a bit of a challenge, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices in order to reach them. You’ll have to scale your budget down, work extra hours, or both. This will require self-discipline AND follow through.
Use your mini goals as motivation. No excuses. No giving up. Self-discipline breeds self-discipline. Stay strong for the first few weeks, and you’ll find that following the plan gets easier.
4. Pick Yourself Back Up
You are human. You will mess up. You will fall down. That’s okay: just remember to pick yourself back up.
We all come with our own set of flaws. If you really want to succeed financially, you’ll need to realize that success starts with you. You’re in control of your future. The power’s in your hands, so use it wisely.
If you’re willing to make temporary sacrifices to get to where you want to be, your efforts will pay you back tenfold. Practice self-discipline in your finances, and you’ll soon find it spreading throughout other areas of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be the person you always dreamed of being.
Do you have financial self-discipline?