There has been a great deal of talk about the changes that many have made in response to the recent recession. Many have made financial changes, paying down credit card debt and building savings. A little more conscious spending is taking place. As a result, many people are now creating a better financial foundation, rather than overspending into a precarious situation.
But will it last?
It’s easy to make financial changes when you know that you can just revert back to your old ways once you feel that the economy is out of danger. (From a personal finance standpoint, maybe the threat of double dip recession is good — if it means people are making wiser decisions.) What might be harder is making permanent financial changes.
Developing Better Money Habits
If you want to see permanent positive changes to your finances, you need to make an effort to incorporate certain money habits into your life. Here are some things you can do to help you make permanent financial changes:
- Have a goal in mind: Something to work for, and benchmarks that help you measure your progress are important. Create a long-term financial plan, in addition to your short-term goals, that can take you through retirement so that you always have something to work for.
- Start small: Look for small, manageable ways to change. Set aside a few dollars a week, and look for small ways to cut expenses.
- Gradually get bigger: After you have started small, work toward bigger changes. Find ways to cut bigger expenses, and take opportunities to set aside larger amounts of money for savings.
- Look for contentment: Part of keeping your finances under control is being content with what you have. If you are meeting your needs, and if you are able to get some of your wants (including saving up for bigger purchases and vacations), learn to be content with that, rather than looking around and wishing for what others have. “Keeping up” with everyone else is one of shortest routes to financial ruin.
- Automate: One of the easiest ways to to keep up with financial changes is to “set it and forget it”. Savings, retirement investing and even some bills can be automatically paid and tracked so that you don’t have to consciously take care of everything. This can help you maintain good money habits, since it’s all being taken of without additional effort.
- Cultivate passive income: You can also safeguard your finances by creating income diversity. If you have some time, start looking for ways to produce alternative income so that you are protected, to some degree, from a loss of one source of income.