Spending habits are emotionally based for many of us. With so many spending triggers readily available at a moment’s notice, it can be hard to actively stick to your plan sometimes. Here’s four things you can start doing immediately – that will help you pinpoint your spending triggers, build a plan that works around them, and stick to a plan that brings you closer to your financial goals!
We can often find ourselves acting to a set emotional spending pattern on a daily basis. We might make a decision to be better with money and then spend time building the perfect spending plan. But within weeks, the initial fresh energy can fade along with our plan. There goes the momentum!
The truth is, the best financial plan is one you can stick with from the beginning. Expert finance information and factual spending advice is everywhere, but only you can really decide if it aligns with your values and it feels realistic for your lifestyle.
Understanding your own emotional finance triggers and planning for inevitable setbacks can also help bring your plan into reality. It doesn’t have to be perfect or precise – we have to live along the way! Don’t worry if you experience a setback, as long as you find ways to get back on track then it’s not the end of the world.
You can work with the following steps as you evaluate your financial health and spending habits:
Focus on what you really want out of your life
- Try to avoid getting caught up in what others might be doing (or what you think you should be doing); instead, think about what you ultimately want to achieve for yourself.
- Finish the sentence “With this plan, I will have the freedom to…”
- Ultimately, only you can choose the lifestyle you want to lead! Whether that involves a stable career with lots of security, or a spontaneous life travelling the world (or maybe even a combination of both), always design your life and your financial plan to reflect your life goals.
Understand your deeper entrenched beliefs around money
- We all have an internal self-narrative that drives our decisions, and finance matters are no exception. You might hear from individuals who are unconsciously caught in a negative feedback loop, “I’ll never be good with money,”. If you believe that you will always struggle with money, you will inevitably always struggle with money.
- It’s so important to understand your own beliefs around money and how it impacts your financial decisions. Those who have this deeper understanding (and take the time to objectively self-reflect) are often much more able to create and stick to healthy financial habits.
- If you find yourself being driven by a negative money mantra, try shifting your thinking more towards the idea that money is flexible and ongoing. It’s not a contest – there’s no winning or losing! Replace the thinking with a specific, growth-oriented action such as “I am actively learning about and re-evaluating my spending habits.”
Plan to include and correct your spending triggers
- The biggest step of any financial plan is actively monitoring your spending habits. A lot of the time you’ll need to uncover any hidden spending you might have missed; you can’t manage what you can’t see!
- Think about your purchases over the past 48 hours. How many of those were on auto-pilot? When you might examine your spending patterns, you’ll likely notice that there are external triggers that drive a lot of your spending, often even without thinking about it.
- Create provisions for those patterns in your plan, and start find new ways you can start to disrupt your existing spending triggers.
- Pin-point one spending habit that you usually regret and find where the trigger comes from. Is there something you can do now to disrupt that feedback loop?
Build your plan with forgiveness in mind
- A lot of the time, we’re driven to make a financial plan in tough moments to solve stuck situations – anything from maxed-out credit cards to a sudden vet bill. In these circumstances we tend to plan in a scarcity mindset, so we’re left with an overly restrictive and unrealistic financial plan that doesn’t match our everyday behaviours.
- Don’t be afraid to be ambitious with the amount that you’re looking to save, or be ruthless with spending cuts. However, for a plan to really stick you should always be honest with yourself. Build-in forgiveness to reduce the shame around failing if you make a mistake or find yourself slipping towards an old spending habit. We’re all human and mistakes can happen! Make sure you’ve got some slack built into your plan, so you can quickly bounce back into recovery.
- Think about a recent financial mistake or spending slip. Did the world end? It most likely didn’t, and you learned something from the experience. Making a mistake is how you learn!
Remember that money is always more than your net worth; it can also be tied to your self-worth. The most effective financial plan is always one that speaks to who you really are: your authentic values, your habits and behaviours, and your mindset.
This article is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such. Before making any commitment of a legal or financial nature you should seek advice from a qualified and registered Australian legal practitioner or financial or investment advisor.