Approximately 60% of us make financial new year resolutions.
However, by the end of January, many have already lost interest and continued on their previous path. Only 8% succeed in completing these resolutions. Now that it is mid January, it is time to re-evaluate our financial new years resolutions, how we are getting on with them and recognise what the hurdles are.
The situation above has often been mine. It is easy to recognise money issues that need work in our lives, promise to ourselves to improve them, then let the dream fall by the wayside as our busy single parent lives get in the way.
Money Mindset – how it can help with financial new years resolutions
Last year (2020), I did a course that introduced money mindset to me. I discovered what a powerful beast it is and how it has such a big impact on our lives.
In case you have not heard of it before, let me recap. Money mindset is, in a nutshell, your attitude towards money. It’s easy to say – ‘Simple, I want more of it’, but its definitely not that simple. Take a look at your upbringing. What were your parents attitudes towards money? Were they frugal and established in you a sense that money should not be spent or used to ‘show off’ but rather should be saved? Or did they take you on lots of holidays then not have enough money for bills? Whichever attitude they adopted would have had a big influence on your formative years whether you realized it or not. Now is the time to delve into those ingrained beliefs, tear them down and build new ones.
Financial New Years Resolutions List
Start by writing a list. What did your parents earn? Was this a substantial amount for the time? Examine how you lived, the size of your house, the big purchases your parents made. Lastly, what type of comments did your parents make about money? Then, on another list, write how you live according to your earnings and compare it to your parents. Can you see similarities? This will give you a starting point from which you can discover your own money mindset and decide which areas you would like to change.
Most of us start being excited about our financial new year’s resolutions. Then the attitudes we already hold but probably don’t even realize eat into our brain little by little until the demon sitting on our shoulder has firmly shooed away the resolutions and continued with life the same as before.
Wealth is a mindset. It’s all about how you think. Money is literally attracted to you or repelled from you. David Schirmer (International Public Speaker and CEO)
Now we have recognized why we may not be achieving our money resolutions, can anything be done about it?
The answer is a resounding yes!
If money/budget/changing any aspect of your future is at the centre of your financial new years resolutions, I would suggest adopting the following for the rest of the year.
1. Create affirmations
Once we have realized we have money issues that impact almost every area of our lives, we need to change and improve our mindset. How do we do this? With affirmations. No, you don’t have to be all ‘woo’ as this does not suit everyone and is definitely not me. Instead, I would recommend delving into what would help improve your daily attitude and writing it down. Such as the one below.
Morning list of positivity
- I am open to wealth in all areas
- I am attracting money in all areas in my life
- Money is positive attitude turned into positive action
- I love everything I can do to enhance mine and others lives with money
Set your alarm five minutes early and use the time to say your affirmations. It’s a great and positive way to start your day. With a new belief system, comes a new day and a new way.
2. Bad habits
Once we have our affirmations in place, we can move on.
We now need to examine any bad financial habits we may have accrued over the years, understand why we have these and break them down to create new, healthy, streamlined goals for the year ahead.
As we know, financial worries do not just pick on people with low incomes. You could be earning a substantial amount and still have bad money habits. 70% of lottery winners wind up broke within seven years. However, once we know where and the mental reasoning behind why we are spending our money in such a way, we can change this behavior.
How do we do this?
We firstly need to be conscious of what we are doing and why. Examine the areas in which you spend your money. How does it make you feel? Do you feel powerful when you use your credit card? Does your mind shout at you ‘if you buy that, I’ll be happy?’ Do you feel more wealthy when you spend money?
Financial habits are often due to snap decisions, the instant gratification part of our brain that says, ‘yes, we want that purchase’, and ‘yes, it will make us happier’. In order to change this pattern, we need to know our triggers. What is it that makes us say yes to that purchase? How do we feel once we have bought it? Once we recognise these, we have something to work with.
In order to break the gratification you feel after a purchase you don’t really need, one idea is to substitute rewards for making positive choices. In order to make the positive action visual, give yourself a savings plan. It needs to be visual so that you can see your savings accrue. Then you can reward yourself at the end of a month or every couple of months with a small purchase. This will help with both your mindset and gratification. But make sure you either use a savings app or set up an automatic transfer from your current account into a savings account. As I discovered, if you leave it to the end of the month to do yourself, it won’t happen!
However, in order to break our bad financial habits properly and fulfil our financial new years resolutions, we need to establish a good budget…..
Now that we have looked at our money mindset, given ourselves daily affirmations and learned how to recognise and break the instant purchases that set us back, lets look at budgeting.
In order for a budget to work, we need to know our incomings and outgoings. Do you know the saying, ‘You can’t see the wood for the trees?’ Our many, irrational purchases, different bank cards that we hold and old Direct Debits we never got around to cancelling are the trees. They are blocking our view of our financial situation. The clarity comes when, standing before us we see the wood with all its incomes and expenditures laid out in neat rows of trees. Get it?
An easy way to do a budget is to use an app.
Financial budget apps
Mint is one example. Each account can be viewed in one place and you can customize how you label your payment categories. It’s definitely a popular one and allows you to precisely track your spending which is exactly what we need when first starting on a positive financial future.
Pocket Guard is another such app. All your finances can be seen on one screen and, like Mint you can customize the categories. It also lets you know how much ‘excess’ money you have that you can spend. Its like your own personal accountant. A very useful feature!
Good budget is a great solution for couples. Your accounts can be synchronized and you can set up joint goals. Whatever you are planning for, a wedding, a house, or a holiday, you can do it together with this app. Perfect!
Once you have everything nicely laid out on either your template or app, you’ll be able to see very clearly your monthly incomings and outgoings. From there, you can create goals for each area of expenditure. For example, some of our disposable income goes on ‘entertainment’. What does this include in yours? Meals out, visits to the pub, cinema or concerts? How much do you spend on this area each month and what percentage of your disposable income does it take every month? From there, you can decide whether this is an area you want to reduce your spending in and how much you could save if you did.
After ‘trimming’ your spending in each category, you should see a certain amount of money every month that is left over. If this is the case, then why not use your budgeting app or spreadsheet wisely and create a savings part? You can even split this into different sections, a goal for the year end and, like I mentioned before, a small amount to save for the end of every month for a treat. This is a good plan for your fist year of ‘financial know how’ and will help in giving you confidence in tackling future areas such as pensions, ISA’s and many more.
4. Read a book
I don’t want to swamp you with lots of advice that it’s easy to be discouraged about after two weeks! Hence why this list is short and sweet and aimed at those people who have dropped their original resolutions by the middle of January but want some achievable steps regarding mindset and financial new years resolution.
It’s important to start a new challenge with the appropriate mindset. It’s actually only been recently that I realized this myself and it has now totally changed how I view life. I have affirmations I say on a daily basis which I vary as otherwise I would start to forge the meaning behind the words. I also mainly read self-help books, which I pick up and put down as the mood takes me. Below are some impressive ones, whose words have stuck with me and the practice of has changed me.
This is by Denise Duffield-Thomas and is a fantastic book aimed at women and the woeful issues we often face concerning money. In it, we learn how to break through our money blocks, face our true potential and get on with earning the money we deserve by embracing the mindset we should have had all along. Yes, its to do with money, however the mindset behind it can be related to many other areas in our lives. Highly recommend this one.
This second book also sits on my bookshelf and is regularly thumbed through. By Jen Sincero, a New York Times bestselling author, it is another inspirational book. It is written in a blunt, funny manner and is easy to read which is always helpful when sometimes the truth makes us wince. It helps us examine what is holding us back and gives real solutions on how to manifest a new financial reality. The author tells us parts of her story, her previous money blocks and looks at how she overcame these in order to be a success. Buy it, its well worth the money.
This is by Carol Dweck. I included this book as it has a slightly different focus than the above two. It does concentrate on mindset but instead on delving purely into the area of money it examines parenting, school, business and relationships by looking at two types of people: those with fixed mindset and those with growth mindset. In it she examines the difference between the two and how we can use growth mindset to not let failure define us but rather to push us to grow and succeed. It’s decades of research are based in psychology and it is well recommended.
As January draws to a close, it is time to be realistic about those goals that have already been pushed aside. By concentrating on our mindset and taking steps to recognise what it is, we can learn a lot about ourselves, how to improve our positive outlook and embrace our new financial new years resolutions.
Then, financial wealth will start to flow!