The power of habit can be quite interesting. Rather than create 2017 resolutions that may not stick, a good alternative is to develop positive habits this year. Especially when the category is financial life.
So, make it your goal to form new habits that will take your financial life to the next level.
From learning a new skill every day to hitting the gym regularly, habit takes away the one singular thing that prevents us from getting things done -- resistance. With good habits, we no longer resist. We just do it.
You can quickly attain financial freedom by positively channeling the power of habit toward how you treat money. But, first, let's look at the steps to developing new habits.
Author James Clear breaks down habit formation into three steps (the three R's): reminder (what triggers the behavior); routine (the habit itself) and reward (what you get from this behavior). In order for a habit to stick, it must follow the three R's rule. By practicing some of the following habits, your reward will be a more financially rewarding lifestyle.
1. Be clear about your financial goals.
One habit you need to develop is clarity toward your goals. Your goals can shape your attitude toward whatever you do and put you in the right perspective about your financial life. Lack of clarity is equivalent to having no goals at all.
"Clarity about your money goals is the first step towards getting your finances right," Yasir Khan, founder and chief editor at WealthKept.com, told me. "Getting your finances right -- being able to prioritize what you do with your money -- can only be achieved by clearing the unnecessary obligations out of the way."
Developing a habit of being clear about your financial goals will also create a sense of focus, which is the psychological effect of setting goals. Let's assume your aim is to start your own business this year. You'll outline how much funding is required to do that, and how much you want to raise yourself.
2. Stop associating guilt with money.
One habit which keeps a person from growing financially is how he or she feels about money. A lot of people feel guilty, which is why they often find it difficult to discuss the financial terms of a business relationship before starting one.
Develop a positive attitude toward money this year by overcoming any guilt you feel about money.
3. Seek more income sources.
The best way to improve your financial life this year is to use your free time to earn an extra income. Start by looking at areas where you can fill a need and earn extra money in the process.
And make converting your spare time into income opportunities a habit. You could freelance for businesses or help people with things they can't do themselves. Khan said he was able to start two small businesses apart from his main job when he noticed he could use his free time to help others. Now that his side businesses are growing, he hires people to help him run the business.
4. Make clearing your debts a priority.
One of the biggest hindrances to financial growth is debt. The problem is that debt keeps compounding, making it your most expensive liability. Start paying off your debt with each paycheck you earn. By forming this habit, you could become debt-free by the end of 2017.
5. Save to secure your future.
Make saving a habit in 2017. The more you save, the more you'll have when you retire. JPMorgan Chase puts together an annual guide to retirement that provides investment and savings strategies for all stages of life.
6. Separate friendship from business.
Underscore the purpose of your relationship with others, and make it a habit to always separate money from friendship and friendship from business.
A lot of relationships have gone to ruin because of money. In 2017, be careful when forming business relationships. Make sure you know enough about someone before entering into such a relationship. Use background check tools like Check Them or Check People before a first meeting. Entering into a relationship with the wrong person could be costly or devastating to your financial life.
7. See money as a means, not an end.
Many people get the notion of money very wrong. Because we see money as the end goal, it affects our orientation about it. See money as what it is and what it's meant to be -- a tool, a means to an end. What the end is for every one of us may be different. For most, it might be happiness, while for others it's simply a comfortable lifestyle.
8. Seek advice from money experts.
Develop a habit of seeking advice before making any major financial decision. This will help you avoid making any decision you'll end up regretting. When you make a habit of seeking financial advice, you'll be less likely to take financial risks that could hurt your lifestyle.
9. Decide against impulse buying.
Make it a habit to spend only on things you need. Cut back on impulse buying by weighing your options before making any purchase. When you buy on impulse, you only gain a temporary sense of satisfaction. Once this instant gratification has worn off, what you're left with is a shrunken purse and a tinge of regret, or buyer's remorse.
10. Live below your means.
Many wealthy individuals mastered the habit of living below their means, even before they became hugely successful. A lot of wealthy individuals prefer to live a frugal lifestyle.
Going frugal can help you create a financial lifestyle that's easily manageable. It can leave you with enough money and time to invest into your business and relationship. And that's what good money habits are all about.
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Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.