When we started our journey to become debt-free and really turn our finances around I didn’t know how hard it was going to be. I watched a few people on Youtube who made their financial journey look simple. Each month they would pay off $1,000+ in debt and they looked excited to be living frugally. About a year into paying off the debt I was no longer motivated. The endpoint seemed so far out of reach and I wanted to give up. This has happened several times on our financial journey. You may be wondering, how to stay motivated on your financial journey, I am going to share a few tips with you that will make budgeting and personal finance a bit more enjoyable.
A Brief Overview of our Financial Journey
The beginning of our financial journey was exciting. We knew we were avid Dave Ramsey followers at this time and really took charge of the baby steps. We had our $1,000 emergency fund and we started knocking out those smaller debts. It was motivating to see the numbers decreasing. Then life started happening and we were able to pay off less and less each month. It finally got to the point that we were no longer motivated to keep going.
We actually took about a year off of this financial journey. We moved across town to a larger home that aligned with our values and long term goals. We went on a real vacation or two (paid in cash) where we could relax and actually let some stress go. We spent more time with family and friends. It was a great year and something we really needed.
However, taking a year break isn’t always a good thing. You have to get back on the wagon at some point and it’s not always easy.
Now, we are back on our financial journey to debt freedom and doing better than ever. We have increased our income tremendously and we are knocking out debts left and right again. It’s a great feeling. How exactly did we get here though? What changed that has kept us on this financial journey for so long?
Let’s explore a few things that have helped up stay motivated on our financial journey.
What exactly is a financial journey?
We are all on a financial journey. From the very first job you have, you have money to manage. You may not think about this as the beginning of your financial journey but it truly is. It is your first interaction with money you have earned, it is the first time you have true buying power, and it is the first time that you get to decide how your hard-earned money is spent.
The financial journey I will be talking about today is the goal-oriented financial journey.
This financial journey can be getting out of debt or saving to buy a home, as well as numerous other things. This is a time-bound financial journey with a clear goal in mind.
How to Stay Motivated on your Financial Journey
There are two key things you can do to stay motivated on your financial journey. They are knowing why you are on this journey and setting clear goals for yourself.
Know Your Why
Why exactly are you trying to accomplish this financial goal? You need to have a big enough reason why to stay motivated.
Is it motivation enough to say “I want to be debt-free”? No, probably not. If you say something like “I want to be debt-free so I can stay home with my children.” That will give you more motivation to stick to your goals.
Your reason why should be something that lights a fire under you.
Your reason why is going to be your biggest motivation during your financial journey. If you can hang a picture of your reason why in your home or create a vision board for yourself. Keep your reason why front and center throughout your financial journey.
Set Clear Goals
Now that you know why you are on your financial journey you need to set clear goals for yourself.
The goal can’t be something as simple as “My goal is to pay off debt.” That really isn’t enough to actually keep you motivated throughout the process.
You want to set realistic goals for the year and then break it down even further.
It is great to have long term goals and view the bigger picture but you also need smaller goals to stay on course.
Your goal should be something like “My goal is to pay off $15,000 by December 31, 2019.” This is a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. By creating the goal this way you will be more likely to achieve it.
You also want to keep your goals written down somewhere that you can visit often. It is one thing to have a goal, but it is something else to sit down and look over your goals on a regular basis.
Track Your Progress
When on your financial journey you should find a way to track your progress.
My favorite way is a spreadsheet. I can easily track account balances and see how far we have come from the previous month.
Being able to visually see how much progress you have made will also help keep you motivated.
When you can see the numbers decreasing it will push you forward on your financial journey.
You may want to use a chart that can easily be colored in. You can find free charts at Debt Free Charts.
When you know your reason why and have clear goals your financial journey will be much easier.
Embarking on a financial journey is not easy. You will need to know your reason why and have clear goals for yourself. These two things when paired together will keep you motivated.
If you find yourself struggling to stay on track look at your goals again. Are they still realistic for where you currently are? Maybe you experienced a job loss or had a baby. Your goals may not be relevant to where you are at this stage in life. I highly recommend checking in on your goals at least twice a year to ensure that they are still relevant to where you currently are in life.