By Mary Hunt
For a good deal of my life, I lived under a dark cloud of fear that I would end up financially destitute—a bag lady. Studies reveal that I’m not the only one. Most of us have felt that way, not because we’re broke but because we lack confidence. That makes us timid, worried and financially insecure.
Look, we don’t have to accept financial insecurity as some kind of life sentence. And that constant and gnawing fear of becoming destitute? Forget it! We can do something about this.
Become a saver. Saving money is like magic because it changes your attitude and calms your fears. I saved my way out of a six-figure pile of debt. Knowing I had cash tucked away in a safe place quieted my insatiable desires. That is where I found my determination to stick with repaying the debt. You must start now, today—no matter your situation, even if you are in debt and struggling to catch up, and even if you are already contributing to a 401(k) plan at work. This is different. You need money in the bank to boost your financial confidence.
Start with a dollar if that is all you can manage, and stuff it in a coffee mug. Then make it $5. Soon you will be saving $10, $20 and even $50 a week, plus all the change from the sofa cushions and washing machine.
MAKE IT AUTOMATIC.
Setting up a plan where you have money automatically transferred to your savings will move your financial confidence to a new level. Check out an online savings account at Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct), or fill out an automatic-deposit authorization form at the bank or credit union where you have your household account. Here’s the principle: If you don’t see it, you don’t miss it.
SET A FINANCIAL GOAL.
Decide on one specific financial goal you want to accomplish. For any plan to succeed, it needs to be specific, reasonable and measurable. Example: Let’s say you want to save $2,400, about $50 a week. That is specific, and it may be reasonable provided you are super motivated to stretch and make adjustments in other areas. And it’s measurable because you can check your account balance regularly.
Debt is the pits. It eliminates your options, keeps you awake at night, can make you lie to your creditors and even lie to your spouse. I know. I’ve been terribly, worse than horribly, in debt.
So what are you going to do about it? Whine? Complain? Continue feeling sorry for yourself? I have a better idea. Get mad! Decide once and for all that you will not sell your soul to a credit card—not one more day, not one more purchase. Get righteously indignant at the very idea of transferring your future wealth to a piece of plastic. Decide that you will do whatever it takes to get out of debt.
Determine to adopt these four behaviors into your life right now. One step at a time, you will make progress and gain confidence. Single steps made consistently become miles.