Starting on November 1 every year, it has become somewhat of a tradition to share on social media one thing a day that you’re grateful for. I love taking part in this new tradition. Building a list of the things you’re most grateful for, one day at a time, really helps you to refocus your priorities. It also helps you to hone in on the things in your life that might need a little bit more focus.
My husband always says that I’m a pessimist, but I call myself a realist. I call things as I see them while he looks at everything with a more “optimistic” point of view. Our two personalities help to balance one another out.
Since I’m a pessimist/realist (call it what you will), it can be difficult to stay grateful, especially when finances don’t go as planned. When things go off budget and when we spend too much money, I have a hard time giving myself grace about the situation.
Over the years, I have learned the hard way that life is much more pleasant and way less stressful when you try to have an attitude of gratitude. Staying grateful, even when finances don’t go as planned goes a long way for not only your personal well-being but for your financial well-being as well.
Here are some of the behavior modification techniques I try to use on myself when I start to feel bummed out about money.
Focus on the Positives
If you’re feeling bummed out about your situation, try to make a quick list of the top ten things you’re grateful for. Last month I was really irritated by the high cost of medical bills. We ended up spending about $400 dollars more than we usually need to spend because of impromptu trips to the doctor and ER.
I was mad for about 10 seconds before I realized how incredibly grateful I should feel that I have the means, ability, and access to take my kids and myself to the doctor, and have our medical problems evaluated. Healthcare is a luxury not afforded to many in this world. By focusing on positives, we have the ability to be grateful for those financial annoyances and see them as blessings instead.
When You Feel Stagnant, Look Back at Progress
Especially when you’re working your way out of credit card or student loan debt, the slow progress feels immeasurably frustrating. When you look back over your finances for the year, instead of berating yourself for not meeting certain goals, spending too much, or not saving enough, celebrate your accomplishments.
My husband and I still have about $15,000 debt that we’re working our way out of. Instead of feeling annoyed by slow progress, we have chosen to be grateful for the small steps of progress we are making. We have started to chip away at our debt, we have chopped off about $300 off of our monthly expenses, and this time next year, we’ll be in an even better place.
Think of Ways it Could be Worse
We have a lot of debts. We have next to nothing set aside for retirement. We have nothing saved for our kids’ college educations. But you know what? I feel so, unbelievably grateful.
This time two years ago, we were on government assistance. We couldn’t afford to put food on the table, and we were facing foreclosure. Now that we are able to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck feels like a luxury. Whenever I feel frustrated by our current finances, I look back at how much worse it could be.
Look Forward to How it will be When it Gets Better
One of my favorite quotes comes from J. K Rowling. She says, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” Having met rock bottom, I am so grateful for the chance to build my future from the ground up.
When you start at the bottom, everything going forward is exciting, positive, and chance to start something fresh and new. It doesn’t matter how bad it became because it’s only going to get better. I am so grateful because I know that we are taking the right steps going forward to reach financial security and independence.
Find Ways to Give Back
No matter what place you’re in financially, you will always be able to reach a hand out to help someone else up. Even when we were in the worst financial place of our lives, we found ways to give back and help others. Now that we have the means and ability to do even more, we try to give back where, when, and how we can. We know it much it meant to us when other people reached out to help us through, so we do our best to pay it forward.
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Having an attitude of gratitude really makes the difference, especially when you’re dealing with the fallout from when finances don’t go as planned. Try to focus on the positives, learn from the situation, make changes going forward, and revel in the progress you have made. Give yourself a little bit of grace when you make bad financial choices, learn from those mistakes. Be grateful, knowing that you can then turn around and use that knowledge from your mistakes to help prevent others from making the same mistakes in the future.
How do you try to stay grateful? How do you react when finances don’t go as planned?