We all want to achieve financial freedom but that goal sometimes feels elusive. For some, increasing their income seems to be the only solution.
Earning more money doesn’t always mean you will have more. Before you start chasing dollar signs first look out for and change sneaky habits which may be hurting your finances as well as your chances of achieving financial freedom.
These sneaky habits are:
- Lack of budgeting
- Spending on credit cards
- Being too generous with gifts and donations
- The desire for instant reward or inability to delay gratification.
If you catch them early you can improve your financial health. They all have one common trait — lack of discipline.
The word discipline comes from the Latin word “disciplina” which means “instruction.”
Without discipline, there is no instruction.
If you lack discipline in your daily life, one way or another, you are being instructed to be undisciplined.
You may not be aware of it, but your environment is instructing you to be undisciplined.
And if you want to change that, you need to change your environment — socially, mentally or physically. Remember you are the sum total of the five people closest to you.
Through discipline one woman amassed an incredible five million pounds by the time she was 96. She worked as a secretary on Wall Street. Instead of blowing her pay check she started by investing just £2 per month.
Sylvia did not grow up in a wealthy family. She continued to lead a modest life even after she had become wealthy.
You may not be able to grow your wealth like Ms Bloom but adopting the following habits could help improve your financial health.
1. Stick to a Budget
When you start your month with a budget, it’s important to do your best to stick to it. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t have the discipline to stay within their budgets.
If that sounds like you, then it’s time to take a look at what you can do to help yourself. For example, consider using money management apps such as Money Dashboard and Yolt to help you keep track of your spending and allocate money for different purposes. There are also websites like Martin’s Money Saving Expert which share tips on budgeting and saving.
2. Use Cash or Debit Cards
It can be tempting to always pay for purchases with a credit card or loan but even if it feels like free money, it isn’t! The sooner you pay off your debts the better off your financial situation will be.
So instead of relying on credit cards or loans all the time, try using cash or debit cards instead. It may feel uncomfortable at first but after a while, it will become second nature.
3. Be Less Generous with Gifts and Donations
I once worked with a woman who I thought was very mean to her mum because she refused to buy her things she asked for. I later found out why when she made this comment, “I’ll never take on debt for anyone, no matter how much I love them.”
She had been in debt. After digging herself out of that miserable hole she had vowed never to fall into it again.
Donating money is a good thing but when your generosity causes you to go into debt, then it’s an issue that needs addressing. Why not open an account specifically for donations which you pay by direct debit. Giving gifts is also great but when you don’t have the money saved up for them and have it’s a bad idea.
4. Practice Delayed Gratification
Some people will blow their bonus or gift money on items they don’t need the minute they receive it. They may feel they deserve the reward, or do it to keep up with current trends, even if this means going against their principles and values.
There is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself. However, when people prefer instant gratification over delayed gratification it is a sign that they lack financial discipline.
A better approach would be setting up an account specifically for gifts and entertainment. Save a portion of your income into this account then when special events come you can tap into it.
Exercise discipline in your finances by setting up supportive systems around you. If you can’t CHANGE the people around you, change the PEOPLE around you and drop the harmful habits.