The holidays are just right around the corner and let’s be real, financial freedom is likely at the top of many of our wish lists. Even though we may not want to admit it, the stress of the holidays, travel, and parties during this time of year can make a big dent in our pockets…
I’m talking about m-o-n-e-y.
And the truth about money is that we have the power to either let our limiting beliefs sabotage our money-making potential, or we can make money work for us.
So if you are looking for a few money tips or ways to practice better habits for financial success, look no further, because I’m going to share with you the financial advice I wish I knew years ago! Let’s make the holiday season that much more enjoyable with these easy life hacks that can create significant financial gains.
1. Pay yourself (first)
Have you heard this expression before? Well, it just happens to be one of the best money rules you can live by. When you pay yourself first, you are putting away a certain amount of money each month that’s all for you! This is a great way to add to a savings account, contribute to a 401(k), or even save up for home renovations. So before you do things like pay your monthly bills or buy your groceries, you are first contributing to your “me” fund. We forget to invest in ourselves sometimes, so using this strategy is one of the easiest ways you can make money work for you.
And you can even go a step further by setting up some an automatic-savings transfer with your bank, so you don’t even have to think about it. Let automation work for you and watch as your savings grow when you make a commitment to put money away before paying bills. Not only are you setting yourself up for financial success, but you are instantly creating a much more realistic spending budget. That means knowing exactly what you have leftover to pay for bills, expenses, and incidentals. This is going to help you better visualize where you’re at, financially, each month.
2. Set a weekly budget (then spend a little less)
So after taking the first step of paying yourself, you now have a clear understanding of the money you have to work with each month. This way, you know how much to set aside for life’s necessities each week. Getting on a weekly budget is a fantastic way to make your money stretch. Before setting your budget, be sure to take inventory of your spending habits to see exactly where each dollar is going. Breaking up your money by week helps to keep you accountable and more mindful of your spending.
If you know you spend a certain amount of money on food each week, use that number as your starting point and then try spending a little less each week. Things like preparing your own meals instead of eating out or taking public transportation instead of driving, are the small modifications you can make to your daily habits that can have a tremendous impact on your finances. Getting smartphone alerts every time you use your card or getting out enough cash to last you each week are also great tips for sticking to your budget. Over time, you will see that you have a little more money left over in your pocket for a rainy day or add to your savings as a bonus.
3. Be kind to your money
Do you have a money block? Well, a money block is something that lives in your subconscious mind that prevents you from obtaining the prosperous and abundant life you’ve always wanted. Things like avoiding the importance of staying on top of your finances or feeling like you don’t deserve to have money or even experiencing buyer’s remorse are only a few of the many money blocks we can run into. Too often, we let the stress of finances guide and eventually derail our ability to welcome an abundant life. So a big part of obtaining financial freedom starts from within, on the subconscious level.
In my dear friend Ken Honda’s book, Happy Money: The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money, one of the topics he covers is learning to uncover and combat the fear (or anger) you may have toward money. Again, unfortunately, one’s poor relationship with money can secretly be sabotaging abundance potential, and as the Law of Attraction teaches us, showing gratitude for what we already have will only bring more of it. So he’ll reveal more of the tools we already possess to help beat these money blocks to see money as something that makes you smile. When you learn to think positively and are kind to your money, as opposed to letting it become the source of stress and anxiety, you are awakening your money mindset. Remember, you can be kind to your money by being mindful of your spending and showing gratitude and appreciation for all the things you can buy with it.
4. Establish a “just in case” game plan
A big reason why it can be hard to obtain the kind of financial freedom you desire is due to a lack of thinking ahead. And look, we can’t plan everything, but simply being mindful of the possibility of something coming up is always a good idea. It’s easy to become frantic about getting our finances in order when life’s unexpected moments catch us off guard. And I’m not just talking about getting a flat tire or unanticipated home repairs. You also have to consider the fun and exciting moments that come up too. Maybe an old friend surprised you from out of town and wants to go out, or your coworkers ask you to join them for happy hour. In moments like these, when our impulses can take over, it can be easy to ramp up the spending and do it rather quickly.
So the key here is to devise your own game plan for those “just in case moments” so you know exactly how to react. For example, if a friend invites you to a new restaurant, on the way over, take a look at the online menu and decide on what you will order before you get there. This way, you become mindful of what you can spend and aren’t completely caught off guard by high price points. Going for drinks can also get costly if you’re not careful, so try setting a maximum number of drinks or dollar amount you are willing to spend when you go out, so you don’t overdo it. If you have plans for a weekend getaway, scrap eating out that week and prepare your own meals so you can pocket that money for your trip.
And of course, you can always set aside money in your weekly budget (#2) for incidentals or unexpected outings. And don’t be afraid to get really clear with your money, include socializing as part of your weekly budget. So to avoid waking up after a fun time feeling remorseful for your spending, an easy tip is to start thinking ahead now for those unexpected moments, so you know exactly how to handle them. This way, you can still enjoy those fun times without feeling pressured to spend more than you anticipated.
5. Set money goals
Holding yourself accountable to your goals is something that takes persistence, patience, and a whole lot of mindfulness. Whether you are looking to pay off debt and/or build up your savings account, the key here is to set your focus on where you want to be in increments of time. When you are faced with money decisions, you’ve got to always remember the bigger picture. Every time you make a purchase, no matter how big or small, ask yourself things like, will this purchase matter to me in 3 months? 6 months? A year? Will this purchase deter me from my goals? Will this set me back too far?
It can be easy for impulses to take over when you set your sights on something nice to buy for yourself or for others. But again, being mindful of your big-picture dreams is what’s going to help you stick to your goals. So mindfully adopting a wealth mindset and practicing it every day is a surefire way to incrementally reach your money goals. And don’t forget to monitor your progress, using each milestone as a stepping stone toward bigger goals.
6. Maintain good health
Did you know that your health can have an impact on becoming financially free? Well, maintaining good health is an easy way to keep on the path to prosperity. Staying healthy is what’s going to keep you active, energetic, and free from high medical bills. And let’s not forget about our mental health too, because bad money habits can often show up when we don’t have the right mindset. Stress, anxiety, and even feelings of loneliness can all lead to overspending, carelessness, and ultimately deter you from your goals.
Tackling things like losing a few pounds, building lean muscle, or eating more vegetables are healthy goals we can practice to cultivate a growth mindset. As you lose weight or see positive change happening to you physically, it’s going to help build the discipline you need to tackle goals in all areas of your life, including the fiscal ones. So remember, physical and mental well-being plays a large part in the decisions we make (especially the big ones), so always make sure to take care of yourself.
7. Get creative with gifts
With the holidays approaching, I think we can all agree that gift-giving can sometimes put a massive dent in our pockets. When you want to buy gifts for friends, family, coworkers, etc., it can become overwhelming to think of all the money you might spend. So this year, don’t let gift-giving completely drain your wallet by learning to get a little creative with your gifts.
Of course, we’d all love to shower those close to us with the most amazing presents every year, but showing your love and generosity does not have to come with a hefty price tag. If you are crafty, consider creating something thoughtful and homemade, like baked goods, handmade holiday cards or ornaments. Instead of the latest gadget or toy, consider opting for experiences or services they would appreciate. A meaningful gift can come in many different forms, so never feel like you have to spend a lot to show your appreciation for someone.
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Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.