So you’ve followed the 5 steps to get ready for financial fitness and made a start. Perfect! Now you’re looking to stay on track with your financial fitness, here’s how in 6 steps.
You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be greatZig Ziglar
Staying on Track
We’ve all been there at New Year, set that resolution and then quietly hoped everyone including ourselves forgot about it before week three in January. We often know we want change and have good intentions but staying on track can be a challenge, finances included.
Step 1 – Mindset & Emotions
In the same way mentally committing to becoming financially fit was the first step in getting ready, the same is true for staying on track..
We know from sports psychology that the difference between those that cross the finish line and those that falter is almost always mindset.
Revisit the list you created in the first 5 steps of your money goals and take some time reflecting on what thoughts and feelings are coming up as you imagine them. Are they positive? Are they excuses? Are they your own thoughts or words you’ve heard from parents or other people?
Write them down and any that are negative re-frame into a positive version, a version you can believe. Remind yourself WHY you are doing this. What does that life of financial fitness look and feel like for you, how would your life be different? Find your words and motivation that remind you that you can achieve this, and you will.
You’ve got this far, you’ve decided to do this because “….” and keep that WHY handy.
Step 2 – Research, Learn, Get Knowledgeable
Second to emotions this knowledge gap is where many of us get stuck. How? What? Where? Which provider? How much risk? When?
Money itself is pretty straightforward but is often overlaid with complex language and emotions. Break it down into small chunks and find the information, experts, knowledge you need to achieve each small step.
What’s the goal? What’s the Purpose? What’s the TImeframe?.
When saving or investing, a general rule of thumb if you will suddenly need it within a few days keep it super close, instant access. If you will need it within the next couple of years and can not afford for the value to decrease, save it in cash. If you can be as near to 100% sure you will NOT need nor be able to access it for 5 years plus then look to invest.
NB this is not financial advice, if you want someone to tell you “Do X with Y into Z because A” then you will need to find a financial adviser or planner to make that recommendation specifically for youdisclaimer
But you can save and invest by increasing your knowledge and following guidance if you choose to and I’d go so far as to argue that you should and can do, but research and learn first. Be selective about your sources and avoid things that promise to get you rich either fast or guaranteed.
I help people with this in my group coaching courses, so get in touch if you want me to help.
Step 3 – Consistency
This is the most important step because whatever your goal or mindset is, if you are not consistently moving toward that goal there is little point in having it.
My 3 rules for consistency areLittle, Often and Increasing.
- Little: Start with an amount you know you can achieve so the habit builds.
- Often: Tie your “pay you” days with your pay days and automate this payment. Top up again with any additional income, gifts, bonuses.
- Increasing: Increase at regular intervals and at at any trigger points, eg pay rise, new tax year, birthday.
Whether it is saving, investing, or paying down debt this principle works.
If you are not yet convinced on the power of consistency read Sylvia Blooms story
Step 4 – Measure
You can’t improve what you don’t measurePeter Drucker
Measuring where you are against the goal will serve to intrinsically motivate and help with the next 3 steps. Whether you chose a habit tracker app, a simple excel spreadsheet or set your goals out on paper, it doesn’t matter, just make it measurable.
Starling Bank has a handy Spaces feature where you can set separate goal saving spaces with a target and see where you are against this. The other handy feature is it totals all of your spaces together so you can see one bigger number growing too.
Step 5 – Review, Assess & Reset
Life changes and therefore so do plans and goals. Money goals will need regularly reviewing. This doesn’t mean stop (think consistency) it just means be flexible about how you continue to move forward and be willing to make changes.
Progress not perfection is what you are aiming for. Keep your dreams big, but plans detailed.
Be willing to amend your goals, timeframes, amounts (up as well as down) to adapt to the changes.
Step 6 – Celebrate, Enjoy!
Celebrate your money wins in a way that is meaningful to you.
Whether it’s the win of continuing to work at it, hitting a money milestone, increasing an income or paying something off, then celebrate. That doesn’t have to be a financial celebration but something that feels like celebrating to you.
After all money should be enjoyed, it is a vehicle to bring us time, freedom and help us lead a life we want. Enjoy it.
Bonus Step – Keep Going
That’s kind of the same as Start and stay Started! Stuff will come along that attempts to de-rail you, don’t let it. Just keep going, every step forward means you are fitter, stronger and more flexible and a step closer to being truly financially fit.