5 Tips for Staying Positive About Your Finances

by Miranda Marquit · 12 comments

This year has been a whirlwind for pretty much everybody in the world. We are lucky things turned out much better than we thought they would financially, but there are many others around us who are struggling with their finances. If this is you, I know it can be tempting to let that negativity permeate your life. But before you just go with the flow and let that happen, know that not addressing your mood can result in even worse finances. Often, a downward spiral affects a number of areas of your life, and that can spill over and make your finances even worse. While you don’t want to ignore financial difficulties, you don’t want to succumb to them, either. So, here are five tips for staying positive about your finances when things seem bleak.

1. Count Your Blessings

The first thing to do is to recognize the good things. Gratitude can be one of the best ways to improve your positivity and increase the chance of achieving the desired outcome. Additionally, focusing on what’s good in your life can help you reduce the stress associated with your finances. Enjoy those positive feelings by looking to your family, your friends, your health, a treasured keepsake, or other items that you are grateful for.

2. Create an Action Plan

Most of us feel better when we have a purpose. Create an action plan to help you get out of your financial doldrums. This can include creating a plan for cutting your spending, or a plan for earning more money (or both). There can be a feeling of helplessness that can overwhelm and paralyze you. Head that feeling off by doing something. Create your plan, and then get to work. Focusing on fixing the problem can help you feel less anxious about it. Sometimes, you may find that the solution to the problem that needs fixing is actually quite simple. As Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said in his 1933 inaugural address, often “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself”.

3. Take a Break By Switching Your Focus

You can’t always think your way out of a bad situation. Sometimes, it just takes time to let the bad situation improve. For example, it takes months and years of savings to build a financial cushion. If your rut is simply recognizing the fact that you are well into your career but you are well behind on your savings, then continually obsessing about the market’s up and downs won’t help you at all. In fact, staring at the volatility all day may make you nervous and increase your chances of making wealth destroying moves.

Always remember to focus on something unrelated to keep your mind fresh.

4. Remind Yourself That Nothing Lasts Forever

For a while, I was sometimes discouraged about our finances when my husband and I were both students. I had to keep reminding myself that it wouldn’t last forever. Indeed, it’s a good idea to keep life in perspective. Just as the good times can’t stretch into eternity, the tough times won’t last forever. Consider this time as a short period, and realize that you will eventually come out of it. You’ll come out of it faster if you have an action plan to help.

David’s Note: I remember when I just got out of college and was trying to look for a job without success. My dad said something I’ll never forget. “Don’t get discouraged. Do you really think you’ll be lucky enough not to be working for the rest of your life?” He was right. I found a job eventually. It wasn’t glamorous by any stretch of the imagination – I was working as a cashier at a golf driving range. But I kept looking. I switched jobs and eventually became an IT manager for a mid-size firm. Then I became their outside salesperson handling a multi-million dollar territory. Then I started my own business.

You won’t be down forever if you keep striving.

5. Recognize the Lessons You Can Learn

Every financial setback comes with a lesson you can learn. In some cases, the lesson learned is that you need to get back to financial basics. Look for the lesson in your current situation. It might be that you need to cultivate income diversity so that you aren’t in as much trouble when your primary source of income is cut off. Perhaps the lesson is the importance of an emergency fund. When I first started out as a freelancer, I had one client disappear without paying me for $2,000 worth of work. At the time, we really needed that money – we were counting on it. I learned that, for larger projects, I needed to get at least half upfront. I also learned that I need to make sure that I stop doing work without regular payment, hoping the entire time that the client would come through. It was pretty crappy at the time, but, looking back, I can see the lesson in the experience.

Staying positive can be tough, but if you make the effort, you might find that you feel less financial stress and that you are more open to opportunities when they present themselves.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Beau W says:

    When it comes being positive about money this year I can agree it’s tough for some folks out there. I’m staying positive just by thinking I’m still able too pay my bills, stash money in my IRA, not as much as I would like but I always think a little bit is better than nothing as they say. This year has been so weird and devastating for so many people if you have a good job and are able too pay the bills and stash cash away for retirement. That is plenty enough to be positive about. Nice job on the article.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Amen to that! There’s really a lot to be thankful for if you are one of the lucky ones to still have a job, let alone still be able to increase your savings!

  • Tonya says:

    I think #2 is really important. Just that step alone has reduced my financial stress. Knowing I’m being proactive instead of getting walked all over by my finances is helping a great deal.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      There’s nothing like being able to just follow a plan without much thought day after day and know it’s the right one because you’ve spent the time to come up with a solid plan.

  • TB says:

    Forgiving yourself for past transgressions is important too. You should always learn from mistakes, but don’t beat yourself up about them… what ‘s done is done, you can only move forward.

  • Jenna says:

    I definitely agree with the action plan. It helps you identify problem areas to work on as well as provide some support and encouragement in areas where you are already successful.

  • infinite banking says:

    You’ve got some good patience Max. That is a long time to wait. I think all we need to do is understand that we live in one of the best countries in the world and the fact that you have running water, plumbing and a roof over your head is something to be happy about.

  • Max says:

    “When I first started out as a freelancer, I had one client disappear without paying me for $2,000 worth of work.” That same problem happened to me about a month ago. I went two months until that client paid me the money owed. I did eventually get it, but I went a few months struggling financially. From now on I make him pay everything upfront and it has changed how I do my business with a few other clients.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      It’s funny how everybody has this issue. My wife recently consulted for an hour for a neighbor’s friend’s company. That was like six months ago and we’ve yet to be paid. We didn’t really push for payment because it was $75 and not getting paid doesn’t really break the bank. Today, that friend emailed my wife and asked if her company ever paid us and she said she will follow up with her accounting. It looks like we will be paid after all!

  • 20 and Engaged says:

    It’s definitely difficult but an action plan keeps things optimistic. It’s also hard to be patient, as you don’t want to be in the situation forever.

    • Rente says:

      An action plan = goals. It’s easier to achieve something if you know how to get there. Without goals you can keep going, but you’ll never know when you will get there..

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