4 Ways to Cultivate Self-Discipline in Personal Finance

When it comes to reaching your goals in any capacity, self-discipline is key.  If you find yourself struggling to accomplish your financial dreams, it’s time to take a look at how you can cultivate more self-discipline into your everyday life.  Here are a few ways you can keep your dreams alive and yourself in check.

Believe You Can Do It

At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, the first step in helping your self-discipline is to simply believe in yourself.  You have to really feel like you can accomplish the task at hand before you actually start doing the work. If your mindset isn’t right, it will be incredibly hard to reach your goals–financial or otherwise.  If you believe you can do it, you are already one step in the right direction.

Look for Inspiration

A good way to garner motivation for your financial goal is to look for inspiration from success stories.  If you don’t know anyone in person that has had success in your area of interest, look for inspiration online.  With one internet search you can probably find tons of stories that closely resemble where you want to be. Find out how they reached their goals and employ those methods to your own journey.  By seeing how others accomplished their goals, you will stay motivated to keep on pursuing your own.

Stay Focused

Once you have inspiration for your journey, it’s time to focus.  Lots of deterrents will present themselves throughout the years, and you will be tempted to throw in the towel, but you must not give up on your dream.  It’s time to stay focused on the end goal. Think about how great it will feel to accomplish what you set out to do. Set little rewards for yourself along the way to help motivate yourself to stay focused.

Be Patient

Accomplishing financial goals takes time, so part of having self-discipline is to just be patient.  Sure, there will be lots of things you want to do with your money in the meantime, but by delaying gratification and being patient, you will reach your goal faster than if you were to take several detours along the way.  

Some people are naturally born with tendencies toward self-discipline and others have to really work and make a conscious effort to cultivate self-discipline.  Whatever your case may be, having self-discipline is the key to making your goals work–in your finances and in other areas of your life. Following these simple tips will help boost your self-discipline and move you closer to your financial goals.

4 Personal Finance Habits of the Financially Healthy

Everyone wants to be physically healthy over the course of their lives, but what about being financially healthy?  The definition of being financially healthy may look different for everyone, but there are some habits that you can adopt that will help anyone get back in financial shape.

Setting Goals

Most people who are financially healthy have an ultimate financial dream.  This could be anything from being debt free or having a certain amount in savings to being able to retire early.  When you have a goal set, it helps propel you to carry out the tasks necessary to reach that goal. Most successful people set goals for themselves regularly.  It’s important to write your goals down and display them in a place that you frequent. That way, you will be able to daily see the goals you have set for yourself.  It’s also a good idea to review your goals yearly to see where you are at in completing it, or to change the goal if it isn’t relevant anymore.

Avoiding Debt

Another habit of a financially healthy person is that they actively avoid debt.  This means, in a lot of cases, that person has to develop self-discipline and patience.  If they see something they want to buy that they can’t afford, they have the patience to wait it out until they have enough money that they don’t have to finance it, or until the price comes down to where they can afford it.  The simple truth is, you can’t be financially healthy if you are riddled with debt. So if that is your situation, the first step to financial health is to learn to stop the debt cycle once and for all.

Budgeting

If you are financially healthy, you more than likely have a budget of some sort.  Some people have incredibly detailed budgets and others are very simple, but whatever the method, they accomplish the same task.  They help you see how much money you have and where it is going each month. Budgets will help you avoid debt and save money. They will be the plan of action for all of your spending.  If you can get into the habit of regularly planning out a budget and sticking to it, you will be setting yourself up for financial success.

Saving

Saving money is very important for your financial health.  When you have money in savings, you don’t have to worry about some unexpected expense popping up and breaking your bank account.  You have it covered! Savings also helps you achieve the big purchases you want to make over the course of your life without having to go into debt.  You can help send your kids to college and live well when you retire if you can get into the habit of regularly saving some of your paycheck every week.  Some people even set it up as an automatic draft out of their paycheck so they don’t have think about it–making it the easiest habit of all. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you are putting some money back for a rainy day.  

As you can see, these habits are very basic.  They are actions you probably hear about all of the time.  If you can develop these habits and put them into your everyday life, you will be financially fit.

Cheap or Free Ways to Have Fun This Summer

Summer’s here and there is a sense of freedom that comes with it every year.  People tend to go on vacations and do more fun activities than they typically do the rest of the year.  But what if you are on a tight budget and can’t afford all of the extra fun? Well, fear not, because we have put together a few easy ways to have fun and keep busy this summer without breaking your budget.

Make Use of Your Library

This is the tip that typically shows up on “Free Things To Do” lists, but for a good reason! Libraries offer a ton of free resources to entertain and inform you.  Besides the magnificent selection of books to read, most libraries offer free DVD rentals, movie nights, storytimes for children, author readings and community lectures.  All of these are completely free! Just visit your library’s website and find their event calendar to plan something fun (and free!) this summer.

Community Events

Take a look at your city’s online community calendar.  I’ll bet you can find all kinds of events you didn’t even know were available.  Free movies and concerts in the park, museum days that offer free or discounted admission, festivals and downtown events are all items typically seen on a community calendar.  Some places even have splash pads for kids to beat the summer heat. Most of these events are either free or very cheap to attend. So before you say that you have nothing to do, check out what’s going on in your community.

Have a Yard Sale

Forget about saving money this summer–how about you make a little extra money!   Clean out your house, attic and garage and, host a yard sale. It does take a little effort, but the pay off can be great!  Your home gets de-cluttered, and you make a little cash that can be put toward doing something fun this summer.

Volunteer Your Time

If you have some spare time this summer, think about volunteering some of it to a worthy community cause.  If you find an organization that you are passionate about helping, the work actually turns into something you enjoy.  It’s a great feeling to give back to your community and help others, and it’s a free but valuable way to spend your time.

So, don’t be bored this summer just because you don’t have a lot of funds to play with.  Get out in your community and see what’s going on! Chances are, you will find more out there than you thought–and you will be able to afford them all.

3 Easy Ways to Save Money This Summer

It’s summertime!  The kids are out of school and it’s hot outside, and that usually means higher home costs.  If you have kids living at home, you know that during the summer months when they are out of school, they not only raise your food bill, but they also use a lot more electricity than during the school year.  The good news is there are simple things you can do to help combat those costs! Take a look at these tips to keep you cool and collected this summer.

Close the Curtains

Did you know that your air conditioner is one of the biggest pulls of electricity in your home?  When it is hot and sunny outside, perhaps the simplest way to save money is to close the blinds and curtains in your house.  This will keep the sunlight from warming your home too much and making your air conditioner work overtime. This easy method could end up saving you big time on your electric bill this summer.

Unplug the Unused

Believe it or not, there are appliances and other items in your home that use electricity even when you aren’t using them.  Ever wonder how the clock stays running on your cable box, stove, coffee maker, etc.? Even though you aren’t using these appliances all the time, they are still using electricity to run the clocks and maintain your settings.  A charger of any kind still plugged into the wall pulls electricity even when you aren’t charging anything. Obviously, the easiest way to stop this is to unplug your devices from the wall when not in use. Even if you don’t want to unplug the TV or cable box, you can still make sure all chargers aren’t plugged into the wall.

Halt the Heat

Keeping the heat out of your home during the hot summer months is not only pleasing to your body, but is good for your wallet.  Like closing the curtains, not using your stove or clothes dryer very often during hot periods can help keep your electric bill at bay.  Air dry your clothes and cook meals that don’t require you to use your stove. Both appliances heat the house more than you would think while they are in use.  This makes your A/C kick it up a notch to try to combat the heat, and the results show up on your electric bill.

So you can see that these tips are extremely basic and easy. It’s crazy to think how just small bits of energy conservation can add up to a big difference on your electric bill.  Doing these tips regularly will be very helpful in your quest to combat the rising costs of summer.

 

Tips for Saving for A College Education

It’s graduation season, so the topic many people are talking about right now is college.  If you have kids of any age under 18, the topic of college may bring a side of panic when you think of it.  That’s because college educations can be super expensive. You may wonder how you are ever going to afford sending one kid to college, much less multiple kids if you have them.  Well, take a deep breath, because today we are going to show you a few easy tips for you to get started saving for college.

Start Early

Obviously, getting a savings fund together is a great place to start.  If your kids are young, putting just a little in each month can yield a good chunk of money over the next 10-17 years.  It may not be enough to completely cover all the tuition for each child, but it will definitely help to not start at zero.  If your child is nearing college age–don’t worry! Just start to put a little money away each month into an account. Even if it isn’t much, it can still pay for a semester, books or supplies your kid may need.  Every little bit helps, and the earlier you start, the more you will have to work with.

Automate

Perhaps the easiest way to save money for college is to have it automatically taken out of your paycheck every pay period.  If you have a 529 plan, let a small portion of your check be allocated to going into your savings plan. If you just have a regular savings account, just allocate part of your check there.  Wherever you decide to stash your savings, if it is put there automatically, chances are your account balance will be higher than if you physically put it in there yourself.

Set Goals

As with any savings plan, it’s best to set goals along the way to help you stay on track.  Take a look at the overall number you need to save. Divide that number by the number of months, weeks or days you have until you need to reach that goal.  By breaking up your large goal into smaller chunks, your goal will become more attainable, and you will be motivated to keep going.

Saving for college is just like saving for anything else–it takes motivation, determination and organization to reach your goals.  Funding a college education is a lofty goal, so if you don’t have all the money saved up at the beginning, it’s ok. Don’t be afraid to accept financial aid, enroll in work study programs or even take out student loans.  Just save what you can and work out the rest. In the end, the education will be worth it.