What is financial fitness?
In my mind, I see it as the act of using habitual actions to gain better financial outcomes.
By cultivating the right habits and motivating yourself to stick to them, you learn to handle money wisely. And how do you know you’ve formed the habit successfully? You’ll notice that you start doing the right thing without thinking.
But in a good way…
Only you can choose to acquire the skills/habits to improve your life. From the start, you have a choice of what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it. When you form a habit, you can create more space in your thoughts for more creative and innovative ideas, while the body’s autopilot is doing what it needs to do to keep the balance in your life.
Why is it necessary that you form financial habits? Because it’s your key to achieving effortless success. Habits help you to work hard without thinking you are working hard.
So here I list 5 practical ways you can start to develop the right habits to lead you to financial fitness.
1. Keep Track of Everything
That bread you bought this morning – is it too small to write into your budget?
I don’t think so. Why not?
What if there’s a query about where the money went, (a popular question in a lot of households these days). Then nobody knows and everybody is frustrated.
But if you can keep a record of how every cent was spent during the month, there will be no more guessing. And this will enable you to do more effective problem-solving in your budget.
I do this by keeping all till slips I receive from cashiers, even the parking ticket invoice. I just file them in chronological order and keep each month’s slips together. And over time, I’ve built a list of all the expense throughout the month.
That is how easy it is to create a detailed archive of all your expenses.
2. Pay Attention To Details
I don’t like visiting big malls, because I always have to pay for parking.
These malls have it all figured out. Whether you just hop in for 20 minutes, or whether you stay for 5 hours, they end up charging you relatively the same amount. So to get value for money, you need to stay longer, and thus buy more things. Not good!
I don’t like being persuaded into anything like this. So what I’ve done (and it really works), is to seek out all the free parking centers in my town and only visit them. Then I save all the money I would’ve spent on parking.
And at the end of the month I spoil myself with a coffee or a ‘lekker’ breakfast.
This is exactly how I went about building my new habit.
There are many ways you can accomplish something similar. For instance, consider doing something radical like buying a bread machine, and then saving the money you would’ve spent buying bread every day.
3. Learn From The Masters
Never let an opportunity to learn slip through your fingers. On a daily basis, you encounter at least one person older or wiser than you. They all have wisdom in the field of finances that they can share with you.
Don’t be shy to ask.
Most often, those people are more than willing and eager to share what they know. Just give it a try and see want happens.
When we teach one another, we feel good about it. The teacher experiences an emotion of purpose and feels that his/her opinion is being valued. Stirring that feeling is a priceless gift to give someone.
And then, don’t just leave it there! Come back and show them your victories. And let it be celebrated, together!
4. Practice Your Understanding
Once you’ve learned from the masters, turn the tables around.
Talk to anyone willing to listen to you. Tell them about your financial goals and dreams and share with them your passions. As soon as we hear our thoughts out loud it becomes easier to rethink and re-evaluate.
If you speak up about what’s going on in your head, your listener can give you advice or change your perspective a little. Or you yourself can make some changes to your plan after you’ve heard yourself out loud.
This also a good way to keep yourself accountable. I remembered when I first told my colleagues about my plan to start this blog. They listened and encouraged me and they looked really excited about the possible outcomes.
But then I did nothing further – I just did nothing. After a week or so they started asking me, “What happened to that blog of yours? When are we going to see your first post?”
I had no excuse. I felt disappointed in my progress. But their comments encouraged me to get to work and start typing and posting as soon as I could.
It’s always healthy to be honest about what’s going on in your head. This will allow you to make real change happen.
5. Learn To Think Before You Spend
In other words, learn to practice self-discipline. Five minutes of consistent attention and reasoning can make all the difference. Just focus on that one thing that is about to throw you off your plan.
Don’t run away from conflict. Learn to embrace it and allow yourself to learn through your mistakes and mishaps.
Nick G Mason said in one post that you should reflect before you react. The process of reflection allows you to see the pitfalls and make some changes to your actions before it’s too late. But once you acted, there is no turning back.
I hope these 5 steps will put you on course to start getting financially fit. Financial fitness is like a muscle that you need to exercise. At first, it’s hard, but with constant effort, it becomes second nature.