Encouragement is a Key to Personal Financial Success

Lead a cheer for others struggling with personal finance issue, or perhaps just a few cheers for yourself.

Lead a cheer for others struggling with personal finance issues, or perhaps just a few cheers for yourself.

Where do our lessons in personal finance come from, I mean, besides the school of hard knocks? Did someone show us how to balance a checkbook or properly use a credit card? Did we have a teacher or mentor, or did we learn mostly by example? However we learned about handling money in a responsible manner, I’d be willing to bet that encouragement played an important role. Encouragement is important in just about everything we do. Without it, we’re less likely to maintain interest and be successful. So, encouragement in the personal finance arena is especially important.

Whether we’re trying to get out of debt, be better at managing personal financial issues, or trying to position ourselves to be entirely debt-free, it takes a lot of encouragement from ourselves and others. If we’re not naturally our own best cheerleader, then it’s likely that others will have to play that role in our life. And, if we’re “tough as a pine knot” and can handle just about anything, there’s likely someone else nearby who could use our encouragement. Often, the difference between having courage and lacking it is simply a matter of encouragement from ourselves and others.

What I’d like to do is provide suggestions as to how we might encourage one another to be better with personal finance. Here are some ideas to consider.

Set a good example. Some people have the mindset “if they can do it, so can I” and it’s a good mindset to have because it’s polar opposite of a victim mentality. You might not know who’s watching you, but if you have children, you can be sure their eyes are on you. And, you can have confidence that no matter how contrary they may seem now, they’ll gravitate to what they see you doing and how you do it.

Be your own best cheerleader. Yes, you can encourage yourself. I’ve encountered many people who figuratively recite mantras of self-doubt and discouragement, so perhaps we can flip that around and give ourselves some positive self-talk and encourage ourselves along the way, perhaps by simply recognizing our own accomplishments.

Set goals that are achievable. Nothing is quite so encouraging as achieving a goal. That’s why it’s important to make them meaningful as well as achievable. It’s okay to be the hero in your own life, one small piece at a time. No one expects you to “eat the elephant” in one sitting, so don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Allow yourself to reach milestones along the way to your ultimate destination. As a minimum, have some basic financial goal in mind to keep you motivated.

Encourage your friend, family member or neighbor. Even if you’re not doing so well, it’s still helpful to encourage others. What you’ll probably find is many who are in worse shape than yourself, and that alone might be quite encouraging…it could very well appear as though the finish line for you isn’t so far away after all.

Know what motivates you and stay focused on that. Are you looking to achieve financial freedom, pay off your home, buy a vacation home, retire early, become completely debt-free? Pick a highly motivating target and go for it. To make it more achievable, set realistic milestones along the way.

Many of us might wonder how we can be encouraging. Well, it’s rather simple because I believe anything one might do that isn’t discouraging for others can be seen by someone, somewhere, from their own unique perspective as encouraging.

So, what’s your story of encouragement? How have you encouraged others or been encouraged by others? What works best as a form of encouragement for you?

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About Clair Schwan

4 Responses to “Encouragement is a Key to Personal Financial Success”

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  1. When I was growing up money was a secret and I have only started learning in the last few years. It all started on a lazy day off when I was avoiding housework and watched Gail Vaz Oxlade’s Til Death Do Us Part. I never knew that people could be so messed up or that I was in such a mess myself until Gail told me.

    I was encouraged to search out frugal life strategies and to learn about changing my life style. I did this by reading online. Now I am about one year out from being debt free and I have learned that I want to reach financial independence thanks to Mr. Money Moustache and I am hunting for investment strategies.

    I need encouragement and fresh ideas regularly to keep my motivated and that is not available in real life but I get all I need online.

    • Clair Schwan says:

      Jane, I think one of the reasons why money is a “secret” is parents don’t want their financial business broadcast everywhere (as kids will do), so quite often kids aren’t involved and therefore they don’t learn. I never recall any formal lessons in money management when growing up except direction with respect to savings and not spending. I think most of our lessons are “rubbed off” on us, whereas I think we’d be miles ahead if we did some sort of formal training in a more deliberate manner. The problem is, like anything else, many people don’t have the big picture, and don’t really know what they’re doing. If you liken money management to personal relationship management, I think we can all see better why we have so much money trouble and so much trouble getting along with others…who really has a good handle on such things?

  2. I was clueless about money for years – decades. A friend of mine who is debt-free, was aware and kept dropping wise advice, but it was wasted on me because I wasn’t listening. A few years of financial distress, caused by my husband’s job loss and subsequent search for a new career path, made me more open to good advice. When this same friend gave me Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover CD book, my eyes were opened. My husband and I launched upon our journey out of debt almost a year ago. We’ve paid off close to $50,000 to date. There’s still a long way to go, but we’ve got great encouragement from our debt-free friend – as well as from the progress we’ve made. You are very right about the importance of encouragement.

    • Clair Schwan says:

      It’s funny how sometimes we don’t see the prophet until something else confirms the wisdom of their advice. It’s all part of learning, and one of the reasons I like to share my insights…I’m hoping to save some folks the trouble I’ve seen and personally experienced. Anyway, we all know about leading a horse to water.

      Whenever the light comes on for us, it’s always helpful to have encouragement from others (especially those who know what they’re doing). It’s also best to know how to be our own best cheerleader and use our own progress as encouragement. Sadly, many of us can’t see that a lack of progress suggests we’re doing things wrong, or at least not well.

      Clearly you’re on the right path and moving along at good speed. You’re both a good example for others. Congratulations on your progress, and may you maintain your focus on becoming free of debt. It’s a great way to have some peace of mind.

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