Monday Motivational: 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get Your Finances in Order

It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to improve our financial picture but somehow never taking that first step. Here are five things to try to gain the motivation to get things moving.

1. Ask yourself if you really want to do it. Often, we think that we should want to do things and put them on our giant list of things that should be done, even though we have no interest in them whatsoever. Then, they hang over our heads like big black clouds and make it impossible for us to move on – oddly enough; this isn’t motivating and makes us procrastinate even more.

Now with some things like learning how to speak French or making a mosaic garden table, we can make the decision not to do it and move on with our lives. Personal finance is a bit different. While some things like canning our own jam to save money are completely optional, others like finding out exactly how much money we owe aren’t if we want to get in charge of our finances.

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The trick is that instead of framing these things as something you should or need to do, you phrase it as something you want to do or will do.

For example, instead of saying “I need to call up my credit companies to ask for a reduction in rates”, tell yourself “I want to call up my credit card companies so that I can ask them for a rate reduction in order to pay off my debt faster” or “I will call up my credit card companies today and find out if they can reduce my rates so that I can move on to the next step”.

Using positive language in this way and looking for reasons why you want to get things done can help you feel more motivated and encouraged instead of feeling weighed down and resentful.

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2. Break it into small steps. Thinking about saving a million dollars for retirement or paying off twenty thousand dollars of debt is overwhelming if you don’t break it into small, manageable steps. If you have no idea where to start, ask someone! Look for other people who have done the same and ask them how they did it. This doesn’t necessarily have to be person to person, you could read books, blogs or watch seminars, too.

Breaking down immense goals into smaller, more manageable jobs is a great way to stop feeling overwhelmed and start feeling empowered to take action.

3. Visualize your success. Think about how good it will feel once you’ve met your goals and try to imagine what your life will be like. For example, you could think about how much easier it will be to deal with little emergencies once you’ve saved an emergency fund. Or how much extra money you’ll have to spend on your hobbies once you’ve paid off that debt.

Think about these things often and remind yourself when you find your motivation waning. Having a clear picture of what you’re working towards is an amazing motivator.

4. Keep yourself accountable. This might mean enlisting the help of a family member or friend to keep you on track. Some people find that a chart or log helps keep them on their toes by providing a visual record of their progress (or lack of it!).

It’s easy enough to say you’re going to do something and never follow through. In fact, sometimes just saying something is enough to make people feel like they’ve done it! In my experience, the best way to go from “talk” to “walk” is to chunk down the goal into concrete tasks and set firm deadlines on when they should be done to keep myself accountable. In other words, spend less time talking about what I’m going to do and more time doing it.

Make a conscious effort

5. Learn to think positive. By this I don’t mean sweeping things under the rug or living in denial, I mean tackling your problems with the mindset that this is an opportunity to learn more and do better. It’s easy to get down on ourselves if we’ve made financial mistakes or feel like we haven’t progressed as far as we should in building our net worth. These negative feelings can make us feel like there is no use trying or that our efforts are a punishment for our mistakes.

Make a conscious effort to look for the positives of the situation you are in. Perhaps you unwisely racked up thousands of dollars in credit card bills. That’s over and done, you can’t change that but you can decide that you’ve learned a very important lesson and now you’re going to use your creativity in finding ways to pay off that debt as fast as possible. Or if you’ve put off saving for retirement, you can decide not to mope about all the interest lost and make the decision to get the information you need to make the best possible choices for retirement savings at your age.

Remember that it’s natural for motivation to wane as we work on our goals. Use that as your cue to take some time to take care of yourself so that you’ll have the energy to continue working. Remind yourself that feeling unmotivated is a temporary feeling and you’ll bounce back in no time!

Do you have any tips for becoming more motivated?

Source: 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Get Your Finances in Order

Thursday Tools: Savings Challenge

I ran across the Savings Challenge the other day while surfing the web and thought well this sounds pretty cool, so I am sharing it with you as a great tool for saving money. See below for some information and click the link to go set up your Savings Challenge.

HOW IT WORKS

Find a CHALLENGE

Saving up for that dream vacation? Setting aside money for your children’s college education? Choose the challenge that matches your savings goal and then set your specific goals.

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Make a PLAN and track your progress

Creating a plan is simple. Just choose from a set of fun, creative daily savings tasks. Then, track the dollars you’ve saved by checking off your completed tasks each day, on the web or on your phone.

Get SUPPORT from a community

See what tasks savers are doing and who has reached their goals and get inspired. Plus, learn valuable savings tips and advice from our blog.

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Achieve and share your SUCCESS

As saving becomes a part of your daily life, you’ll see your savings add up. When you reach your goal, share your savings story and encourage others to accomplish their own goals.

So, that’s the basics of Savings Challenge, so CLICK HERE to check it out!

Tuesday Tips: 10 Ways to Save Money at the Vet

Vet with DogThere’s nothing you won’t do for your pet — but wait until you see the vet bill. Americans will spend nearly $16 billion on veterinary care in 2015, according to the American Pet Products Association. The industry group’s annual pet owners survey found that an average of $235 goes toward routine vet visits for dogs and $196 for cats.

The total doesn’t include non-routine expenses such as surgical vet visits: $551 and $398 a year on average for dogs and cats, respectively. Although pet insurance is an option, most pet owners pay for everything, from screenings to major surgery, out of their own pockets. If veterinary expenses have left you feeling a bit ill yourself, try these money-saving tips.

Shop around before choosing a vet. Veterinarians charge a surprisingly broad array of prices for the same services, even in the same location. Cheapism.com found that the fee for neutering a pet in southern Connecticut, for example, ranges from a couple hundred dollars to nearly $1,000. Before settling on a vet, make calls and ask plenty of questions regarding prices for a variety of services.

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Look for wellness care packages. Keeping pets healthy is the easiest way to avoid costly problems and save money in the long run. Annual checkups and yearly vaccines are a must, but look into money-saving options first. Pet insurance may cover some preventative care, and some vets offer wellness packages that save a good chunk of change compared with paying separately for each vaccine or exam. Some wellness plans, such as those from PetSmart’s Banfield Pet Hospital, include discounts on products and services not covered by the plan.

View all Courses Look into veterinary discount programs. Depending on the age and stage of your pet (in particular, very young or elderly), visits to the vet may pile up. With a discount program, pet owners pay a monthly or flat fee to get reduced prices on services and visits at participating providers. Pet Assure is one of the better-known discount programs and offers packages for as low as $7.95 a month. Beware, though — Pet Assure and similar programs may not apply for major medical problems, and not all veterinarians participate.

Give pets plenty of exercise. Aside from preventing problems such as obesity, regular exercise can keep pets from becoming bored, a state that can lead to destructive behavior, such as eating things they shouldn’t. (Seems we all know of a pup that’s downed a sock or devoured a piece of furniture.) This can prompt exorbitant emergency medical bills and surgery that could have been prevented.

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Keep up on heartworm, flea and tick treatments. Regular doses of preventative treatments can help avoid the cost of actually treating problems such as heartworm disease, Lyme disease, or fleas (which can spread throughout the home). These medicines are available at the vet’s office, but Amazon and Costco also sell them, so compare prices before stocking up.

Feed your pet well. In the interest of your pet’s long-term health, don’t just pick up the cheapest bag of food at the grocery store. Like humans, pets need a balanced diet. The website Dog Food Advisor maintains a comprehensive list of highly rated brands.

Look for vets with emergency hours. Should an after-hours pet emergency arise, owners may get stuck at the local animal ER, which can cost a small fortune. To avoid these types of bills, do some advance research to find out if any vets in the area have emergency, weekend, or late hours, where a visit may end up costing much less than the ER.

Question recommended treatments. In addition to the basics (e.g., vaccines and diet), there are a host of other treatments that may or may not be necessary for optimum health. Question the vet thoroughly on any recommendations before jumping in. For example, a canine influenza vaccine was recently introduced, but the American Veterinary Medical Foundation advises it is not necessary for every dog.

Don’t be shy about saying ‘no.’ X-rays, ultrasounds, and the like can be extremely expensive, and your pet may not always need them. Some vets may recommend the most expensive course of action first, so always ask about alternative, less costly treatment options.

Request an itemized bill. Ask the vet for an itemized quote at every appointment and take a close look at the charges. Even if you can’t dispute the bill this time, you’ll have a better idea of services or fees that seem to be “extras” you can refuse next time.