I was thinking the other day about the process involved in trying to fix your finances and realised it was a bit like trying to get fit.
I believe that there is a four part process to both activities which goes something like this -
You start with a problem
Gym - You start to notice your clothes getting tight or you get out of breath doing the easiest activity. You may be planning a wedding or going on holiday and want to look your best. Basically, you have a problem you are determined to fix and you decide you need to get fit.
Finances - You feel as if your finances are out of control and you are always desperate for pay day to come around. You may want to buy something expensive and need to save the money, or you are fed up paying so much money to the credit card companies. You have a problem sorting out your finances and you want to resolve it, once and for all.
You do some research
Gym - You start to check your local gyms and read stuff online and in magazines about getting fit. You start imagining life when those few extra pounds have disappeared. Maybe you even go shopping for new trainers and gym gear. Your enthusiasm starts to bubble over and feel your motivation to get fit is at its peak.
Finances - You start to read the financial section of the papers with renewed interest. Maybe you start putting a few tips into practice and are motivated with the results. Controlling your finances now is a major goal in your life.
You take the plunge
Gym - Right this is it, you've signed up to a really great local gym and off you go in your new gym gear and trainers. This fitness thing is really great and you are now going three or four times a week even trying out classes you never knew existed - Body Pump, Spinning and Zumba.
Finances - You have now created a fantastic budget and sorted out all your utility bills, insurance needs and bank accounts you've even starting to build an emergency fund. This is it, financial freedom is just around the corner!
You start to falter
Gym - You are still really keen to get fit but life just gets in the way. A drink after work here and a night in front of the TV there, with the gym membership card hidden deep inside your wallet. This is the graveyard for most gym members, three nights a week goes down to one night a week, to one night a fortnight. Before long you put the pounds back on and give up the gym all together saying it's a waste of money.
Finances - You take your eye off the ball, life's too busy, and your budgeting starts to go awry. The goals you had at the beginning are starting to fade and you feel no further forward than you did at the start. This is where most people give up on fixing their finances, the first little setback and they are back to square one.
You decide to make it part of your everyday life
Gym - For those who don't want to give up they realise that they need to make fitness part of their every day routine and not as some torture best avoided. As you do this you can see opportunities to get fit everywhere - walking up stairs instead of using the lift, walking to work as well as going to the gym. You have battled your little setback and feeling proud that you have got back on track. Fitness is now as much a part of your life your life as going to work or spending time with your family. Well done!
Finances - You decide that you are not going to let this beat you, controlling your finances is important to you and you get back on track. You decide that you need to make this part of your every day life, checking bank balances and looking for the best deals, and your emergency fund is looking very healthy as well. Congratulations!
Like getting fit controlling you finances needs to be part of your every day life. It doesn't take long once everything is set up and you can get a full overview of your situation with a few a clicks on your computer. Stick at it, controlling your finances can make you feel better about life now and in the future. Good luck!