Managing your money while also overcoming previous financial setbacks can seem overwhelming, especially when it feels like you’re drowning in a sea of debt. The key to overcoming financial hardship is to change your mindset about money. Only then will you be able to initiate, and stick to, the habits that will set you up for financial wellness.
In this article, we reveal seven things you can start doing today to prioritize habits that will help you reduce debt and build wealth.
- Change Your Money Talk
- Get Rid of the “Treat Yourself” Mentality
- Confront Your Spending
- Create a Budget
- Hardship Programs
- Cancel Subscriptions
- Lower Interest Rates
Change Your Money Talk
The way you talk about money reflects the way you think about it. If you have a negative, glass-half-empty attitude toward your finances, you will talk about it in a negative way. Do you say things like, “I’m always so broke,” or “I’ll never be able to pay off my credit card”?
The first step toward achieving financial stability is to develop a positive attitude toward money. Rather than dwelling on the material things you don’t have, remind yourself of the positive things that you are grateful for—family, friends, having a job, etc.
Remind yourself that, even though you may have been digging a financial hole previously, you have stopped and are now making positive steps toward financial freedom.
Get Rid of the “Treat Yourself” Mentality
Many people waste a lot of money by “treating themselves” to things. These treats are often in the form of material goods, be it food, clothing, or some gadget.
It’s okay, even beneficial, to treat yourself occasionally. But if you find yourself doing it weekly, or even monthly, you may have to rethink things. Think, too, of ways to reward yourself that do not involve spending money.
Often people say that they’re “treating themselves” when what they are actually doing is indulging in impulse buying. That is a surefire way to stay in the financial doldrums. Avoiding impulse buys takes discipline in the moment. So does getting on top of your finances.
Avoid the tendency, also, to buy things to make yourself appear wealthy and successful. This faking it until you make it never works. Rather than buying things to impress others, work on personal development to help you feel good about the person you are right now.
Confront Your Spending
When your finances aren’t going well, it can be easy to turn a blind eye to what’s going on with your bank account. That, however, is a tendency you need to avoid. Bite the bullet and take a cold, hard look at your accounts. Pull out a highlighter and start underlining all of your needless spending.
It is a good idea to download a money management app to help you analyze your spending and identify the areas of waste. Now make a list of all the things you can cut back on.
Create a Budget
The admonition to create a budget in order to get on top of your finances is nothing new. You’ve no doubt heard it before and will do so again. Hearing and doing, however, are very different things. Now is the time to create a budget and then discipline yourself to stick to it.
The reason that most people fail to stick to their budget is that they are unrealistic about their variable expenses, like food and entertainment. If you allocate amounts that are too low, you will be setting yourself up for failure. At the same time, you need to avoid padding out your budget. Your budget needs to be lean but doable.
Check out our analysis of ways to make money from home
If you are struggling to meet your monthly bills, get in touch with your creditors and let them know. More often than not, they are willing to work with you. It’s when they don’t hear from you that nasty things like penalty interest and debt collection come into the picture.
Your lender will probably ease you into a hardship program by which you will be able to make lower payments—or even take a short payment holiday—until you are able to resume normal payments.
Building yourself up to making that first phone call to a creditor can be quite difficult. But, once you do, you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Most of us have several subscriptions that we either aren’t aware of or don’t make much use of. It may be a gym membership, a streaming service, or a magazine subscription. Each one might only be costing you a few dollars monthly. But that can add up to several hundred bucks a year.
So, ask yourself whether you really need the subscription. Can you live without it? If you haven’t been to the gym in the last month, consider canceling and starting a bodyweight workout program at home. If you have more than one subscription, can you cut back to just one per week?
Lower Interest Rates
If you are paying off a mortgage or a car loan, keep an eye on the interest rates. You can save some serious money by switching to a mortgage lender who is offering a half a percentage point lower rates.
Before jumping into a mortgage lender change, make sure that you know the costs involved. If you are on a fixed-rate mortgage and the term hasn’t expired, you will have to pay a fee to break the mortgage. You will have to determine whether this charge is offset by the lowered rate. You may also have to pay an appraisal fee to the new lender, as well as an assignment fee for the paperwork.
Overcoming financial hardship starts in the mind. Only when you get your thinking about money straightened out will you be able to implement and stick to the financial habits that will set you on the road to financial security. Make use of our seven hacks to get your finances sorted out.