Happy New Year! and it is indeed a new year. If you’re interested in adopting some new, do-able habits for 2008 – guaranteed to yield great results – here’s a Grab N’ Go of ideas. Take what appeals to you; leave the rest for another year.
1. Befriend your money. Spend time with it. Get to know it. Find out what your doing with it – you’ll be surprised at the both good and less kind ways you handle your cash flow.
2. Start Saving. Now. Not when you think you can afford it. Not when your cash flow feels better. Start saving now, even if it’s $10 a paycheque. Test me on this – see if you don’t discover it IS possible. See if within 6 months you aren’t thrilled to have started. See if you don’t start to feel an inner sense of esteem that comes with having savings.
Yes, you may need to dip into it from time to time. That’s OK. With time, you’ll become increasingly adept at finding alternatives to dipping into your savings.
My bank of choice is Citizens Bank of Canada – 3.8% on your first penny, plus, their profits go back to the community rather than international shareholders. (Full disclosure: I work there part-time!) Alternatives include ING and President’s Choice.
3. Set some money goals. Write them out. I can personally attest to the power of written goals. Mine have ALL come true (with one exception that may yet come to fruition) and I swear, some of them felt impossible at the time. But here I am – I own my own place in Vancouver, I know how to invest on my own, and I have a sweet little nest egg. If I can do it (remember, I at one point had my credit card cut up!) anyone can do it. Set some goals.
4. Don’t get all melodramatic about debt. It’s easy at this time of year to make big vows about getting out of debt. But just like our vows of getting fit – we make good progress for a wee while, then KaBlam! something kaiboshes our efforts and we’re back where we started. Try focusing on the Assets column of your personal balance sheet instead, and make a realistic plan to eliminate your debt in a sustainable fashion.
5. Practice the Art of Waiting 24 Hours. Back in my bad old days, money flew out my wallet because I was the ultra-impulse-shopper. I saw something I knew I just had to have every other day. Here’s what saved me from myself: I give myself genuine, full permission to buy the item… tomorrow. Guess how often I go back the next day.
6. Give yourself a break, already. So many of my clients beat themselves up, thinking “I’m lousy with money” or in fear of judgment by family and friends. A blessed few people are naturally organized in general, and with money in specific. The rest of us are a bit more messy and bear a few war wounds. That’s OK. I prefer imperfect people anyway, don’t you? So let go of self-blame and instead make gentle changes that work for you.
7. Get political. How do you and your money habits fit in the larger scheme? What do we make of the fact that many of us eat too much (that would be me) on a regular basis while across the street (in my case) adults have scurvy or across the globe (all of us) kids die simply because they don’t have the basics covered? What do we make of the fact that we consume the vast majority of the world’s resources? To get started, check out The Story of Stuff.. If you’re a little more radical, get to know an extraordinary black american woman, Majora Carter.
8. Practice Gratitude. When I was a kid, we hastily said grace before every meal. It was a bit rote, yes, but in retrospect, I think it was a very healthy habit. So I’m reintroducing it in my life – saying thanks before dinners, and also with every instance of receiving income. It doesn’t have to be to ‘God’. It could be to a higher power, or simply a moment of reflection on the fact that we have food on our table every day. We have so much. So much. Let’s take due note and practice gratitude together.
Over to you! Have I missed some simple ones that you employ?