What is the difference between people who are financially secure and those who are not? It might not be what you think. Two people can earn the same amount of money and live similar lifestyles and one may be more financially secure than the other. Aside from a difference in expenses and life’s responsibilities, one key difference is that those who are more deliberate about tracking their finances and planning how they use their money are closer to achieving financial freedom than others. Here are some practical ways to start improving your finances today:
- Let’s Start With Some Clarity:
It is hard to achieve a goal if you don’t set any.
Do you have a benchmark for how much you’d like to earn a month? Do you have an overview of how much your fixed costs are monthly? Do you have your most frequent purchases prioritized according to what is absolutely necessary and what are indulgent luxuries? Having a clear picture of your finances will set you on the path to set realistic financial goals and make you more motivated to create your roadmap. When setting these goals, try to be as specific and realistic as you can.
A poor financial goal: I’d like to save more this year
A good financial goal: I’d like to save N20,000 each month
- Those Shalt Have Discipline
Your phone is ringing and Bolanle is telling you that you guys HAVE to try that new restaurant that just opened in Ikeja. You know that you’ve exhausted your restaurant budget for the month, but you had a hard week at work and it’s only this one life we have to live, right? You go out on Friday night and you have to buy that delicious cocktail for N3,500, No make that 3 cocktails. And okay, you promise this is the last time this month but the girls are all going for lunch and….
It goes on and on. Once we start making excuses for not sticking to our goals it becomes easier and easier to lose attachment to it. It is also easy to be careless and find ourselves skint at the end of the month when we have serious bills to pay. Only real commitment to our goals can allow us to persevere enough to see it through. Having an easy way to view our transaction history and account balance can help with staying focused, but also keeping our targeted goals within specific time frames in which we must achieve them.
- Financial Goals, But Make It Realistic
One sure way to visualize your financial goals is to break them down into smaller, more achievable goals. For instance, you might set a goal to earn N1M a month. If you simply leave that as a goal without breaking that into all the smaller goals that it would take to achieve that, you might be intimidated and never get started.
However, you know that you earn N600,000 per month at your job. So your goal is to make an extra N400,000. You might then decide to start a small side business or seek opportunities that bring in extra income per month. You might even decide to switch jobs. You might increase your earnings to N800,000 then you know you have N200,000 left in your target goal, but you also know that you have moved the needle closer to where you are trying to get to which motivates you to try even harder. You have to then figure out which extra steps you need to take to achieve the final goal.
If a financial aspiration seems unattainable – break it down into smaller simpler goals that move you closer to your target!
- Turn Up The Pressure
This might confuse you – why would you want to make your financial goals challenging? Well studies have shown that people are more motivated by the anticipation of achievements. What this means is that you are more likely to be excited by an audacious goal than you are by unchallenging ones. Of course your big, bold goal should still feel like something that is within your reach – but should also feel like a challenge that gives you a greater feeling of reward and satisfaction when achieved.
For example, You might set a savings goal to take yourself on a nice vacation at the end of the year. You’ve done your calculations and you need N650,000 to have a really nice holiday. To save that amount, it may mean you need to save double the amount you currently save per month, and you will need to tighten your belt in other areas and make bigger sacrifices. This might mean more home-cooked meals and fewer outings or fewer nights out with the boys – but when you are able to book that flight and hotel and have the spending money left over, the sense of accomplishment will be even more satisfying than if you didn’t expend too much effort to go on a N300,000 budget holiday.
- Every Win Counts
It is very important when working towards a goal to maintain an effective feedback loop. If you worked at a job where you never received any feedback you would have no idea how you were performing. It is effective to track your progress in order to stay motivated and be able to clearly see how much closer you have moved towards your goal.
Luckily it’s 2019, and as we move closer and closer to a cashless society, it means we are spending our money through some financial institution or the other, be that our banks or preferred finance apps. An important feature to look out for within these apps is one that can track your spending, view your savings or investments in real time, allow you to easily disperse your money to whichever accounts you need.