For years (and years), I lived under a dark cloud of worry that I would end up financially destitute—a bag lady, all alone living under a bridge.
A study conducted by Harris Interactive for Allianz Insurance Group reveals that I’m not the only one. In fact, most of us have felt that way, not because we’re broke, but because we don’t have confidence when it comes to managing our money. That makes us timid, worried and financially insecure.
We don’t have to accept financial insecurity as some kind of life sentence. And that constant and gnawing fear of becoming destitute? Forget it! We can do something about this.
Financial confidence is a choice. It’s a matter of changing bad habits and choosing to learn simple financial principles. Then by consciously applying them over and over again, those principles will become automatic responses—financial habits.
Are you ready to make 2019 your best money year ever? Here are four simple things you can do starting today to improve your financial confidence—and take control of your money.
Decide once and for all that you will not sell your soul to the likes of MasterCard and Visa—not one more day, not one more purchase. Get righteously indignant at the very idea of transferring your future wealth to them by carrying a never-ending pile of debt.
Remember this: The borrower is a slave to the lender. Determine right now that you will do whatever it takes to break those chains and get out of debt.
Become a saver
Saving money is like magic because it changes our attitudes and calms our fears. The simple act of choosing not to spend money so you can save it is a soul soother, a nerve calmer.
You must start now, today—no matter your situation. Even if you are in debt, even if you are struggling to catch up and even if you are already contributing to a 401(k) plan at work or another kind of retirement account. This is different. You need money in the bank to boost your financial confidence.
Start with a dollar and stuff it in a coffee mug if that is all you can manage. Then make it $5. Soon you will be saving $10, $20 even $50 a week, plus all the change from the sofa cushions and washing machine.
Years ago my husband gave me five $100 bills for Christmas. I was so determined to save that money, I nailed those bills between two pieces of wood using his pneumatic nail gun.
With that, spending became much more difficult than saving!
It is not a requirement that you have your own paycheck to become a habitual saver. Whatever money you manage—the grocery money, the household account—whatever it is, take some of it right off the top for savings.
MORE: 8 Easy Ways to Grow a Cash Stash in 2019
Make it automatic
Setting up a plan where you have money automatically transferred to your savings will move your financial confidence to a new level. Check out an online savings account at Ally Bank (Ally.com) or fill out an automatic deposit authorization form at the bank or credit union where you have your household account.
Here’s the principle: If you don’t see it, you don’t miss it.
Set a financial goal
For any plan to succeed, it needs to be 1) specific, 2) reasonable and 3) measurable.
Let’s say you want to save $2,400 in the coming year—about $50 a week, which makes it specific. That may be reasonable provided you are willing to really stretch and make adjustments in other areas. And you can certainly measure your progress by simply checking your account balance regularly.
As you begin to understand that money and personal finance are empowering, not repulsive, you will open the door to taking control of your finances. One step at a time you will make progress. Single steps made consistently become miles.
This year really could be your best money year. It’s not a decision that anyone else can make for you. It really is up to you!