No matter what your financial goals are, sometimes reaching them can feel like a slog. Do you need some money motivation? We got you.
This is Money May and we’re going back to the basics. We are going to motivate you to take action, to stop making excuses and to finally do what you already know you need to do. At the end of this month, you’ll be motivated to take on the world. Because when you change your money habits, you will change your life.
Sometimes doing LMM can seem like a slog. We get complaints about some ridiculous stuff. But sometimes we get an epic email that reminds us why we do this. This is one.
“To give you a short background. I am husband and father of 4 kids. I graduated college in 2014 with an exercise physiology degree and since then I have been working in landscape construction because my degree couldn’t pay the bills. I was in a really bad place as far as my outlook and hope for the future.
I literally spent 40+ hours a week digging in the dirt and I make $17 dollars an hour. Basically my life sucked and I started to think this was going to be my lot in life.
Enter LMM. I started listening to your podcast during work, and couldn’t stop because it gave me hope and actually gave me ideas for change in my life. I started to implement different ideas from your shows, and started to effect change.
For the first time ever I really started to save effectively and was able to save up about $6000, which isn’t bad for someone on $17 dollars an hour.
The next milestone was to invest in myself and so I joined an on line coding boot camp with all the money I had saved. I took 2 days off per week to provide myself enough time to succeed.
This work reduction has resulted in an effective 40% loss in my earnings. Needless to say times have been tough on the money front but we are surviving.
I am done with my boot camp and on March 30th I had my first technical interview with a company, and I have one more lined up for next week. I cannot tell you how excited about life I am now, and how much hope I have for me and the future of my family.
And getting a “real” job is not the end for me and my goals but is simply the beginning of a journey of self improvement.
I love you guys in the non weirdest way possible and am thankful for the effort that you have put forth in producing the best podcast out there.”
A Chance to Fail in Order to Succeed
The person who sent that e-mail took a big risk. Why would someone with four children to feed do that? He did it because he knew he would succeed. Why? Because he had no choice. He has four children to feed.
Getting out of your comfort zone and into a place where you have no choice but to succeed is the quickest kick in the ass you will ever get. Our e-mailer cut back his work hours and the money he was earning to learn something new that will make him more money.
I moved to New Orleans where I didn’t know a soul. Thomas moved to Denver which quadrupled his rent overnight. All three of us are making it because it was the only choice we had.
Not everyone is going to have a major catalyst for quitting a job, moving, or having a kid to motivate them. Those things are certainly among the best motivators but they aren’t the only ones. Maybe your motivation is finally getting tired of doing the same damn thing over and over.
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Just Do It
We all have things we know we should be doing but we aren’t doing. They may not even be hard things. But there is just a self-defeating mechanism that some of us have that means those things don’t get done.
I can be like that. This quote changed my life. It isn’t motivational in the traditional sense but some of us aren’t traditional and that kind of feel-good Deepak Oprah stuff sounds like trite bullshit to us.
So if that describes you, cross stitch this on a pillow or print it on a t-shirt or write it on your arm in Sharpie;
You don’t need to wait for the right time or the right circumstances. You don’t need to unload the dishwasher first. You don’t need anyone to give you permission. Just fucking do it. This is the best advice I have ever received.
And you know what? When you do what you are supposed to do, you feel happy. You think avoiding what you are supposed to do in favor of binging on some dumb TV show or eating a whole pizza to yourself or sleeping for two more hours will make you happy because those things are indulgences and whatever it is you are supposed to be doing but are not doing is work.
But I promise, getting that thing done or at least started, will make you feel happier than avoiding it in favor of doing what you’d rather be doing. And you’ll get to like that feeling of happiness. That feeling is an accomplishment and wanting to feel that again, every day, becomes a source of motivation.
If you’re trying to lose weight, one technique that can help is being mindful when you eat. Don’t gobble up your food. Look at the food, appreciate how pretty the salad you made looks.
Smell your food. Notice the aromas of the different spices that you used in your chili. Take a bite and put your fork down. Chew each mouthful thoroughly. Taste your food, notice the textures in your mouth.
Being mindful when we eat can not only help us eat less, it can help us take more pleasure from our food. We can use a similar tactic when it comes to money. One really effective way to do this is to break down everything you want to buy into how many hours you would have to work to buy it.
You make $20 an hour, which is not bad money in a lot of the US, and you want to buy a new iPhone. You can expect to pay around $700 for that. That is 35 hours of your time, almost a full work week. A bit more actually because $20 an hour is what you make before taxes.
Now, you might very well need a new iPhone or tech is one of the things you’re willing to spend money on, we all have different priorities. But if you apply this tactic to the majority of your purchases, you may find yourself putting a lot of things back on the shelf. Those 35 hours aren’t just hours you spend at work, those hours are your life. How many do you want to spend paying for crap you don’t really need?
Another tactic is to adopt a spending mantra. Before you spend money, ask, “Is buying this more important than…?” You fill in the blank. More important than getting out of credit card debt, more important than investing so you can retire early, more important than saving for a college fund. Sometimes the answer will be yes, but not always.
Another way to employ money mindfulness is to practice gratitude. For some of us, money is like our spouse. We only talk about it when we’re bitching about it. Well, that’s not healthy for your relationship with your spouse and it’s not healthy for your relationship with money either.
Many of us are too tough on ourselves over money. Rather than beating yourself up over the $5 you spent that week buying coffee out, congratulate yourself on the $30 you saved by bringing your lunch to work each day that week.
See It To Believe It
Another way to stay motivated is with visual cues. Make a vision board. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can cut pictures of things you want out of a magazine or write things you want to do on a sticky note. You can stick these things on your fridge or on a poster board hung where you will see it every day.
Seeing is believing when it comes to your numbers too. Don’t be afraid to look at your numbers in Mint or wherever you keep them. This can be motivating in two ways. Seeing that you are coming up short every month can motivate you to cut back on spending or to start looking for a better paying job.
Seeing positive progress in those numbers is motivating too. Maybe it’s seeing those credit card balances go down because you finally stuck to a plan to pay them off or seeing that number in Betterment getting bigger and bigger.
You want to be very specific when you are listing your goals. Use numbers and dates to hold yourself accountable. If you want to save $5,000 for your emergency fund, what are the steps you have to take to do that?
You need to cut down spending or make more money with a new job or side hustle. When do you want to have the $5,000 by? Set a date so you give yourself a deadline.
Tell someone close to you about this, someone who has a vested interest in you doing this. This is additional motivation because this person can hold you accountable when you start to slip up and they are counting on you. We don’t like to let those close to us down.
This is Money May, a month dedicated to motivating you. The weather is changing and your finances are going to change too. We’re going to talk about our 31 Day Challenge. Each day for 31 days, you will do one small thing that will improve your finances.
It might be calling up your credit card company and asking them to reduce your interest rate. Maybe call up your cell phone provider armed with a competitor’s offer and telling them they’ll lose your custom if they don’t give you an even better deal.
The excuses will come to an end. If a guy getting paid $17 an hour to dig ditches saved and became a developer, you can make sweeping changes too.
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