There are a lot of ways to become financially successful. Some people work 70 hours a week, some people work 40. Some people inherit piles of money, and some people start with nothing. There is no one clear cut answer that works for everybody.
However, there are a few universal ways to hurt your chances of finding financial success. I want to talk about those today.
Playing the Victim
When it comes to your financial life, there are going to bumps and bruises along the way. Not just in finance but in life as well, one of the most important parts of being an adult is taking responsibility. Whether it’s taking responsibility for mistakes that you’ve made, or taking responsibility by saying “hey, I’ve been dealt a bad hand, but it’s up to ME to go fix it”, life isn’t going to give you any free passes.
Letting debt pile up because “there’s just no way I can pay it off” is only going to make your problems worse. As much as people try to shift blame onto others for their misfortune, at the end of the day it’s on your shoulders to make your life better. There can be people that help you along the way, but it’s ultimately your journey.
Working with a financial planner can certainly help. Constructing a financial plan and identifying ways to tackle your financial issues will help, but you still need to implement those plans. This leads me to my next point.
Not Prioritizing and Planning Properly
Having your well thought out priorities in order is a huge accomplishment. It doesn’t sound like much, but actually sitting down and thinking about your future puts you ahead of so many people. Sure there are general financial goals that “most people” would like to accomplish, but screw that. You’re not “most people”. You’re YOU. You owe it to yourself to set goals you actually WANT to accomplish!
Having priorities that are both realistic and line up with your stage of life are important as well. Just because you didn’t do this when you were younger doesn’t mean it’s too late.
Trying to find that balance between your wants and needs to TODAY versus setting your FUTURE self up for success is difficult. But it can be done! This is another scenario where a financial planner can work with you to properly align those priorities. Planning for a 30 year retirement when you’re 28 years old can seem unnecessary, but it’s possible to work towards any number of goals simultaneously.
Wasteful Spending and Procrastination
Your spending habits directly relate back to the first two points. It’s easy to feel like debt is drowning you until you realize how much money is going out the door every month on needless expenses. And how do we figure out how much is going out the door in needless expenses? You guessed it! By prioritizing and planning!
I’ll be the first to admit that I procrastinate a lot. However, letting financial paperwork and responsibilities pile up is a recipe for disaster. As is the case with most tasks we procrastinate on, actually DOING them never takes as long, or as much effort, as we thought. That’s part of being an adult. Sit down and get stuff done!
So to sum everything up:
It’s certainly not easy to break old financial habits, but it’s not impossible. Finding financial success is a constant work in progress, but identifying your own areas for improvement and implementing small changes can make all the difference in the long run. It’s important to ask your financial planner for help as well. Tell them what bad behaviors you’d like to break, and they can help determine the most effective way to do it.