Monday, February 3, 2014

Just What the Doctor Ordered: A Prescription to Improve Your Financial Health

Getting your finances on the right track is a lot like getting in great shape. Although there are plenty of programs that claim to have a fast and easy solution, the reality is that getting in tip-top financial shape requires some work. But even though there aren't shortcuts, knowing that you can get to where you want should be reassuring.
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Since you do have to put in some work, you may be wondering what your ultimate should be. For most people, the answer is they should get their finances to the point where it's just another part of their routine. By getting to the point where you aren't constantly worrying about how much money is in your bank account, you won't have to worry about your financial struggles taking a mental and physical toll.
Before we dive into the path you should follow, there are two key topics to address. The first is the importance of patience. Regardless of how eager you are to improve your finances, this is still a task that's going to take some time. As a result, you shouldn't beat yourself up if you fall off track every now and then. Research has shown that it generally takes 66 days for a habit to begin feeling automatic.
Second, it's very difficult to make lasting changes if there's currently a major issue sitting in front of you. Since that kind of problem can tax you to the point where you simply don't have any mental energy to focus on the future, it's important to find a solution for that type of short-term problem. If it's something that can be solved by making a one-time payment, an auto title pawn or loan from TitleMax will likely help. Because this can promptly provide you with up to $10,000, you can say goodbye to that significant strain once and for all.
When you reach the point where you feel confident that you're ready to make a big change to your financial habits, here's how to get the ball rolling:
Track Your Spending and Feelings
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Finances are far more emotionally driven than people realize. So in addition to using an app or notebook to keep track of where your money actually goes, it's also important to keep a written record of how you're feeling as you go through this process.
Provide Yourself with as Much Support as Possible
People from all walks of life struggle to keep their finances on the right track. Because this difficulty is so widespread, it's safe to say it's not something that's simple to tackle. As a result, it's important to create an environment that is as supportive as possible.
What exactly does a supportive environment mean? One example is to automate as many tasks as you can. Instead of manually paying your credit card bills, have the payments directly taken when your paycheck is deposited. This will eliminate the temptation to pay less and end up accumulating more interest.
Another good example is not to take credit cards with you when you go out for the night. By only taking a predetermined amount of cash, you won't have to worry about waking up the next morning and realizing that you blew your budget.
Focus on Positive Feelings, Not Punishments
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Although some people recommend rewarding yourself with things like a pampering purchase, that isn't really a sustainable source of motivation. Instead, a better approach is to take the time to focus on the positive feelings that progress provides. When you finish paying off a credit card, you should have a real sense of pride about what you accomplished. In addition to focusing on the positive, when you do hit a setback, don't feel the need to punish yourself. Instead, chalk it up as a learning experience and continue moving forward.
Get Professional Guidance
It's definitely worth meeting with a financial professional that you trust. Whether it's a one-time meeting or an ongoing arrangement, this is a great opportunity to get personalized recommendations for your specific situation.
While it's going to take some time to make real progress, as long as you're consistent, you will begin seeing improvements to your short and long-term financial outlook!

 Cliff Etherton is a financial advisor. Since he has over 15 years of experience under his belt, he enjoys sharing everything he's learned through writing. He's currently in the process of compiling and expanding a collection of his blog posts into a book.

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