“But mom…I really need that new toy!”
“Dad everyone at school has a new pair of Air Jordans and I won't be cool unless I have them!”
“The next door neighbors just bought a puppy and I want one too!”
As a young kid these arec some common statements you will hear your kids or maybe even you made when you were little. You'd think as we age and becoming more mature that those behaviors or impulses would go away. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Instead, with the privilege of using credit cards, ability to get zero down loans, and the ability to get easy credit, it makes it even harder to get yourself financial ahead. Modifying our behavior is harder than ever. It reminds me of Paul's verse in Romans 7:15 where he says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
In my own experience of having my pay continue to increase since graduation from college I've seen my personal spending adjust. Adjusting to living on more money, because I'm making more. As my pay increases have come year over year, I haven't kept my spending level consistent, but allowed new needs to creep in and snatch more of my income.
To say modifying your financial behavior is hard would be an understatement. If personal finances was easy, then wouldn't you think that all mathematicians would be millionaires? It isn't all about the numbers. It isn't about getting cash back rewards, or buying all your products on Amazon. Personal finances is about changing your financial behavior. Like with our new dog, we have to be consistent about what we expect and provide rules and rewards for modifications to behavior.
In our family's journey to financial freedom, here are a few tips that might help you modify your financial behavior:
Limit your exposure to marketing – more than any point in our history we, as consumers, are bombarded by more marketing material than ever before. We see marketing being fed to us through our Facebook feeds, television commercials, advertisements above the male urinals, billboards along the highway as we drive to work, airplanes flying advertisements above sporting event, and the ever obnoxious door-to-door solitaires. If you limit your exposure to these advertisements, make less trips to the mall, get off Facebook, and don't go to the mall as a leisure activity, then it will greatly help you reduce the number of wants or “needs” in your life.
Automate your finances as much as possible – in my life I've automated all of my fixed expenses into one account, and all my variable cash into another. This helps limit how much time I have to spend working on my finances, and help me ensure that I don't miss any payments or have any late fees. This process has greatly reduced our stress and we know exactly whether we are getting ahead or spending more than we are making every month.
Pay with cash for everything – when McDonalds went from only accepting cash to allowing customers to use credit cards they noticed that customers spent on average 30-40% more. If you are using your credit cards for every day purchases, then more than likely you are part of this typical group that is spending much more than those who don't. Start today, and use cash for all your purchases. Feel the money leaving your hands, and it just might modify your behavior if you feel it.
Set goals and see them daily – if you see what you are trying for each day, then it provides extra motivation to get towards that goal. Visualize and think about what your end state looks like. What does retirement smell like? What does being debt free look like? How would you celebrate if your net worth finally went over the $1 million dollar? Post your goals on your fridge or on the dash of your car to be reminded daily of what you are striving for!
Wait 48 hours before taking on any new debt – getting into debt is easy, but getting out of debt is extremely hard. In a way, it is like quick said. If you consider a major purchase like a new home, car, stereo systems, or computer, then wait 48 hours before you take the step into more debt. It might just help you realize how you don't really need that new product. Those 48 hours can end up saving you a ton of money long term.
These are just a few tips that have helped me and my family modify our behavior, which isn't easy. I'd love to hear your tips and tricks that you use to modify your behavior. Leave a comment below with you tip.