What’s the cheesy saying that goes along with so many New Year’s advertisements?
New year, new you!
This line might not inspire you to do much more than roll your eyes, but there is something motivating about a new year that makes you want to change your personal habits.
Since the year is still fairly new, I’d like to focus on a possible goal for the remainder of it: strengthening your money-management muscles. Admittedly, this also sounds a little cheesy — but as I was thinking about it, the analogy made sense.
When you start a new workout program, it’s difficult at first. Your muscles aren’t used to being moved in unfamiliar ways and challenged beyond their ability. But after a while, they get used to being stretched and strained — and become stronger and more limber in response. This same idea can be applied to your ability to handle your finances.
Establishing new habits in your finances can be difficult at first. Your moves may feel forced, or be slow and awkward. But if you continue to challenge yourself, you’ll become stronger and more adept.
Here’s how you can stretch and strengthen your money-management skills this year:
Try Something New
The first step in strengthening your ability to handle money is to challenge yourself. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you won’t grow. Trying new things is scary, but once you realize you can actually do them, it becomes less and less of a struggle to try other new things. Your confidence grows, and so do your skills!
Here are a few things you might try:
- Open a new type of account, such as an online savings account, investment account, or retirement account.
- Start a new budget program. If you’ve never budgeted, start. If your current budget isn’t working, find one that does. There are so many easy tools available on the internet and as apps; inexperience is no excuse.
- Take a finance class. If you don’t feel comfortable trying something new, learn more about it until you do.
- Invest in real estate. Have you always wanted to try flipping a house? Get some experienced advice and go for it.
- Do your own taxes. Even if you still need the security of passing your taxes off to a professional for review, crunch the numbers yourself first to see if you get the same results. You just might decide to save money and do your own next year.
As with any new habit, you can’t succeed unless you start. So take the first step and get the ball rolling to make a change.
Commit to Feeling the Burn
I’m sorry, ladies, but lifting two-pound weights isn’t going to do much for you. You’re not going to see the results you want unless you’re willing to sweat and struggle a little. You have to feel the burn.
The same applies to your personal finance habits. If you stretch yourself only a little, you’ll have minimal results. The more you challenge yourself, the more you’ll improve. When you start a new financial discipline, such as one of the suggestions listed above, decide right away that you’re going to commit 100%.
Stick With It for 30 Days
They say it takes about two weeks to establish a new habit. In the financial world, most accounting is recapped and totaled on a monthly basis. So, in keeping with financial terms, commit to developing your new skill for at least one month.
This gives you more than enough time to settle into a new routine, as well as sufficient time to see the results of your hard work. If all goes well, try it for another month. The longer you work at a new skill, the stronger you’ll get — and the more positive results you’ll see.
Like becoming physically fit, learning good money-management skills is a lifetime commitment. So why not start today? If you commit yourself and stick with it, you’ll be amazed at the results!
Are you exercising any new financial habits this year?