3 ways to feel good about your finances

Nothing to show for all your spending? Get three tips to change that...

  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Google Plus
  • Print

As many people do, I struggled with my finances after graduating from college. Newly married and in debt, I felt like I didn't have anything to show for my spending. Bills, debt repayment, and the expenses of everyday life seemed overwhelming. Every time I turned around, there was something new to spend my money on.

One day, I woke up and realized that I had so much useless stuff sitting in the house that I could have taken a pretty decent trip to Europe if I hadn't blown everything on those frivolities. I wanted to feel good about my finances, not feel like my money was in control of my life. At that point, I started changing how I approached money entirely. Here are the steps I took to turn things around in my money life:

1. Figure out what you value

Often, we spend on things we don't care about because we haven't thought about how to connect our spending to our values. Think about what really matters to you. What's important in your life? What are the things—and people—that you want to take care of? Do you prefer experiences to things? Do you wish you could pay down debt faster, or give more to charity?

Before spending money, ask yourself if you need to make that purchase. If you don't need to make the purchase, ask yourself if it will help you reach your goals, or if it reflects your values. Carl Richards, the author of The Behavior Gap and the One-Page Financial Plan, recommends pausing before making a purchase and saying to yourself, "that's interesting."

Notice your spending. Start putting money toward the most important things in your life and cut out the stuff that doesn't matter to you. Just spending on things that reflect your values and goals can help you feel better about your finances.

2. Mark your progress

Money problems don't fix themselves overnight. I spent years working to turn things around and making up for my mistakes. It's easy to become discouraged if you don't acknowledge how far you've come at checkpoints along the way. Pay attention to where you are now, compared to your situation six months ago, or a year ago. When I realized I was moving in the right direction, making small changes to my financial habits every day, I began to feel better about my finances. Create a plan to guide you on your new path, and to celebrate the progress you make.

3. Just meeting the Joneses? Ignore them.

Stop worrying about whether you're buying a house at a certain age. Don't look at the way others use their money and assume that you are "supposed" to do the same thing. It doesn't matter whether or not you have the "right" car, TV set, house, or food. And it doesn't matter if you buy these things according to someone else's schedule. Do you really want to live someone else's idea of a good life?

The Joneses shouldn't be your model for life. (Besides, they're probably in debt.) If you know what you value, that's the model for your life and your spending choices. Get back to what matters to you. You'll feel much better about your finances when you know you are using your money to live the life you want...

  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Google Plus
  • Print
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Neither Fidelity Investments nor your employer can guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917
768449.1.0
close
Please enter a valid e-mail address
Please enter a valid e-mail address
Important legal information about the e-mail you will be sending. By using this service, you agree to input your real e-mail address and only send it to people you know. It is a violation of law in some jurisdictions to falsely identify yourself in an e-mail. All information you provide will be used by Fidelity solely for the purpose of sending the e-mail on your behalf.The subject line of the e-mail you send will be "Fidelity.com: "

Your e-mail has been sent.
close

Your e-mail has been sent.

Here's more you might like:

Annual enrollment trip planner: your guide to yearly elections

Which health plan? HSA or FSA? How does this affect retirement savings? Annual enrollment raises lots of questions!
07/09/2018

The 3 A's of successful saving

Remember the 3 A's for retirement saving: Amount, Account, and Asset mix.
06/29/2018

5 tricks to successfully juggling multiple savings goals

Putting a plan in place can help keep you from getting overwhelmed.
06/29/2018