In celebration of the new year, I thought I’d start on a positive note. For many, me included, the new year seems to bring with it a sense of renewal and hope. I believe that type of attitude is exactly what we need when it comes to our personal finances.
Did I always feel this way? No. I spent a huge chunk of my life hating money. I blamed it as the source of so many of my problems. I cursed it as “the one thing I’m really bad at.” Long story short, money and I didn’t really get along.
Now that money and I are on much better terms, I want to share the ways that I help myself stay positive about my own personal finances. These tips might not all work for you but hopefully, if you suffer from a scarcity or negative mindset, you can find one or two to help turn your attitude in the right direction.
Without further ado…19 tips to staying positive about personal finances for 2019.
19. Keep Cash In Your Wallet
It doesn’t have to be much. I try to keep $5-$20 in my wallet. It just makes me happy to see a little green paper amongst all the plastic. Plus, if I want to treat myself to a coffee or a sausage McMuffin with egg (no judging), the money is there!
18. Pay One Bill In Advance
This can be hard to think about when money is tight. But the psychological pick-me-up is so worth is. I have a utility bill that runs about $10-15 a month. I like to pay a whole year’s worth. I save myself the time it takes to send monthly payments and I can essentially forget about it for a whole year.
17. Keep a Coin Jar
There’s nothing quite like the sound of coins hitting the inside of my piggy banks’ tummies. I collect piggy banks and sprinkle them throughout the house. They are super cute and they are full of money!!!
16. Have a Savings Account
Hell, have 10! The point is to have an account that is for something other than paying bills. There is something magical about knowing that money is just sitting there. If you use it, pay it back.
15. Name Your Savings Account
I prefer to name my savings accounts after what I am saving for but the point is to personalize them to you and your situation. Share Account 01 is so cold and boring. “Little Cabin In the Woods” sounds far more interesting. Or name it “Charlie” or “Sasha” and think of them as employees you have to pay. Whatever it takes to make savings “real” for you.
14. Freeze Your Credit Cards
I believe that debt is the biggest source of negativity in personal finances. I call credit cards the devil on earth. I recently put all my credit cards in a container and put them in the freezer. (My goal is to leave them there for 6 months.) It’s a good challenge to operate off of cash-only. I also find a sick pleasure in imagining those little devils freezing their little digits off.
13. Read Personal Finance Blogs
Hey, you are reading this so congrats! You just nailed this one! (Thanks, by the way for reading The Lady in the Black!) Personal finance blogs can help you feel not-so-alone in your struggles with money. There are all sorts of people out there and many have been in your shoes. You aren’t alone.
12. Try a No-Spend Challenge
I’m not going to lie and tell you a no-spend challenge is easy. It’s not. For me, it wasn’t particularly fun either. What was great is that I walked away with a new appreciation for what my money does for me. It held new value to me. Try spending no money for a day, or two, or 5.
11. Starting Investing
Investing seemed so complex and scary to me. I started and now I’m hooked. Investing is not without risk but I found it extremely educational and interesting to learn about markets, stocks, ETFs, dividends, etc. Now, on a daily basis, I get a kick out of watching my investment balances go up and down, and up and down. Because that’s what they do.
10. Track Interest and Dividends
Once I learned about dividends, and saw other people reporting their totals, I built a spreadsheet and started tracking them right away. Dividends are monetary “gifts” for owning certain investments. It’s like a mini-bonus for investing. It’s your money making you money. Same with interest on savings accounts. It might not total much but it’s a good, positive reminder that saving and investing really pays.
9. Hold Yourself Accountable
Many of us have a negative reaction to that phrase. Somehow it seems like something your father or school principal would preach when you’ve been naughty. I propose it is a very good thing. Accountability is just a way to keep a promise; a promise to yourself–and keeping a promise feels awesome.
8. Find A Good Financial Planner
I lucked into meeting a great financial advisor. For me, she has educated me and guided me when it comes to financial products but her true value is as personal finance cheerleader. She knows where I started and where I want to go. She’s a constant source of encouragement. She cheers me up when I’m down and reminds me of how great I’m doing. (Geez, I’m actually tearing up writing this.)
7. Get Out of Debt
This is a big one. It’s not easy and it’s not fun. However, there is a certain sense of satisfaction at dinging away at your debt. I’m not out of debt completely but I’ve had some huge wins in the recent past. That sense of pride in digging yourself out of a bad situation is priceless and empowering.
6. Automate Your Finances
This was the first thing I wanted to accomplish when I started addressing my personal finances. I struggled constantly to make budgets, write checks, buy stamps, pay online, etc. Intuitively I knew that automating my payments (and deposits) was going to free me. And it has. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It’s not for everyone though.
5. Talk About Money Openly
Sadly, there can be stigma in talking about your money. However, there is also a kind of freedom in being open and honest about your financial journey. You decide what level of sharing is best for you but I think it’s good to say “I’m sorry I can’t go. I’m prioritizing paying off debt for the next few months” or “Did you hear that I just opened a savings account to save for a trip to Tahiti?” Being open about your journey might even inspire others.
4. Pay Yourself First
This is my financial advisor’s mantra. Initially, I dismissed it as hokey and not applicable to me. I had debt. I had pressing need to pay rent and bills. I’ve since learned that paying yourself first really means putting yourself first. You are the most important factor in your money equation. You are also the most important person in your future. You are the one to make your dreams come true. Think of yourself as your life’s most valued employee and then pay yourself accordingly.
3. Appreciate What You Have
Gratitude is perhaps one of the most powerful tools in improving your personal finances. If you can truly be grateful for today, you can guarantee you’ll be happy tomorrow. Even when I’m down, I have now acquired the skill to look around my life and feel overwhelming awe at how good I have it.
2. Help Others
By giving to the Universe with an open heart, you are open to receiving from the Universe as well. If you can’t afford to donate money, there are other ways to help. I like to believe I help others by simply sharing my own experiences with money. Random acts of kindness are fun, too.
1. Dream Big
Imagination and visualization are extremely powerful sources of positivity. It’s healthy to have dreams and even healthier to actively work toward achieving them. Dreams can shift and evolve and that’s ok. Consider what makes you really happy and then figure out how to get more of that into your life.
In writing this list, I realize my list could far exceed 19 items. In truth, there are hundreds of tips to stay positive about personal finances. And I’d encourage you to add your own in the comments. However, the real point is that a positive attitude can be transformative to your personal finances.
Start this year with a positive attitude about money and see what happens!