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?