Did you ring in the New Year eager to rock your money goals in 2016?
I know I did. I felt absolutely sure that 2016 was going to be my year to get things done. I promised myself that we would stop spending our money on take-out and use it to pay off debt, and we were going to use every bit of my freelancing money to pay down our debt.
It’s only January 18, and I already feel like I failed. We have had more medical bills than we accounted for, which has eaten away at any possible debt-repayment. Since our schedules have been busy and stressful, I have already given in to buying convenience dinners when I don’t have time to cook/don’t feel like cooking.
So, now what? Should I give up because it’s three weeks into the New Year and I have failed miserably?
Absolutely not! I have the entire year ahead of me. As easy as it would be to throw in the towel, I know that three weeks does not have to dictate how the rest of the year will go.
I just need to dust myself off, reassess my goals, and remember why it was that I was so motivated to reach these goals in the first place.
It’s easy to feel confident that you’ll be able to reach your goals through sheer will-power and motivation, but will-power isn’t enough. If, like me, you start to feel like your motivation is lacking, use these tips to help you reinvigorate your drive to reach your New Year money goals.
Give Yourself Some Empathy
Paying off debt is my motive behind my New Year money goal. I hate how much money of our paycheck goes toward debt and interest each month, and I want to pay it off as fast as possible. I also need to realize that life doesn’t always happen the way you expect it to, and you have to move forward with the hand of cards that life deals you. So, if you feel like a big, fat failure, give yourself some empathy. You’re human. Mistakes happen, and life gets in the way. Dust yourself off and move on.
Remember the “Why” Behind Your Money Goals
If you’re starting to lack the motivation you need to reach your goals, it’s important to remember your “why.” What made you decide to make your New Year’s money goals in the first place? What was your original motivation?
Are your saving money to pay off student loan debt? If you feel tempted to spend money on take-out or Amazon wish-list items, try to think about how much you’ll enjoy that first month after you’re free of your student loans and able to use that money how you like, completely guilt-free.
Is your “why” a vacation or a new car? Think about sunning yourself on a beach in the Bahamas when you’re tempted to add those Oreo cookies to your shopping cart. Think about the big picture when you’re tempted to spend money on small everyday items that you don’t need and won’t help you reach your goals.
Post Inspirational Quotes
Look on Pinterest or Goodreads for inspirational quotes from your favorite authors or celebrities. Print out your favorites and post them in the places where you know you could get a motivational boost. Tape motivational quips in your wallet, on your bathroom mirror, inside your fridge, or on your car’s dashboard. Having those words of wisdom available to you throughout the day can really help you when you feel like you lack motivation.
If your plan of attack isn’t working, switch tactics. For example, if a blanket ban on something isn’t working to help you accomplish your goals, then work that item into your budget instead. I realize, for example, that I won’t be able always to say no to take-out food. There are some days where ordering Chinese food is the only way I will be able to accomplish my work, take care of my kids, get their homeschooling done, and deal with all of their appointments.
Some days are crazier than others, and that’s fine. If Chinese food is the thing that helps keep me both sane and productive on that one absolutely crazy day a month, then I will see it as the tool it is and not beat myself up for using it.
Keep your Money Goals Fun
Meeting money goals doesn’t have to be a dreadful process. Make it fun! Turn your money goal into a competition between you and your spouse or you and your best friend. Bet each other on smaller goals, like who can put more in their savings account that week. Have the loser pay for a cup of coffee for the winner as motivation.
Mark Progress on Your Visual
It’s when you feel stagnant and like you haven’t made any progress that you feel most like throwing in the towel. So, don’t forget to mark your progress in a visual way. Fill in a paper thermometer that has your goal at the top, mark Xs on the calendar, or use paper chains. Whatever you decide to use, seeing that you have actually made progress towards reaching your goal will help keep you motivated to keep reaching those goals.
Don’t forget to treat yourself. Just like with weight loss, if you go through complete deprivation, you’re more likely to quit working on your goals. Give yourself a cheat day once a week or once a month. Buy a Starbucks coffee, order take-out, or purchase that thing you’ve been eyeing on Amazon. Whatever works well for you, you need to allow yourself to indulge every once in a while, so you don’t lose your motivation to keep going. Just make sure the indulgence is a special treat and doesn’t become a too-frequent habit again.
Don’t Give Up
Forgive yourself for making money mistakes and move on. Empathy goes a long way towards helping you to keep your motivation to reach your money goals. If your current methods aren’t working, switch tactics, but don’t give up. You have the entire year ahead of you. Don’t let three weeks decide the course of the whole rest of the year.
Have you struggled with your goals for this year? Have you been tempted to give up?