Sometimes motivation to live below our means, pay down debt and invest comes from experiencing some sort of financial crisis. Perhaps we’ve maxed out our credit cards, or lost a home, or filed for bankruptcy. Or maybe we’re just tired of running out of money before we get to the end of the month.
For some, the motivation stems from something more positive. Perhaps your parents lived a life of financial independence and through positive influence taught you to do the same. Whether positive or negative, something motivated us to make a change in our relationship with money.
My motivation stems from childhood memories of doing without, often in fear of losing our home. I grew up in a middle class home where both of my parents worked. When I was about ten, my step-father started a business that eventually failed. As a result of borrowing against our home, we almost lost our home to foreclosure. I have memories of my parents discussing what we were going to do and fearing that we would be put out on the street. Fortunately that didn’t happen, although that childhood fear is still with me today. While these are not pleasant memories for me, they are motivational. In some ways, it is refreshing to take a painful experience and use it in a positive way.
The point is that we need to understand what is motivating us to make good financial decisions, and then hold on to that motivation. If maxed out credit cards are motivating you, frame one of the credit cards and hang it where you’ll see it every day. Not only will it be a motivational reminder, but it makes using the card a lot more difficult! If you prefer to cut up your credit cards, don’t just through them away. Put them in a glass bowl or jar as a constant reminder of the positive decision you’ve made. If a bankruptcy or a foreclosure is motivating you, keep a copy of the bankruptcy order or foreclosure notice. You may not want to dwell on these events all the time, but a periodic reminder of these painful events can help motivate you to make good financial decisions.
I have a picture from several years ago when I was about 40 pounds heavier than I am now. Whenever I start to gain a few pounds, I go get that picture. It motivates me to make healthy eating choices in a way that nothing else can. What in your past motivates you to make wise financial decisions? Whatever it is, find something tangible that will remind you of that event or situation, and turn to it when you need a motivational boost.