The author James Clear of Atomic Habits says it perfectly regarding how humans work:
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
In the beginning of the year it’s popular to make a list of goals for the months ahead. For many people this includes making goals to save more money, but often this won’t happen until you’re willing to change your daily habits. If you desire to spend less money on a monthly basis, your odds of success will increase if you make tangible and attainable steps to get there. Here’s this week’s money question on spending:
How little money can you spend during the month of February?
Have you ever challenged yourself to see how much extra money you would have at the end of the month if you focused on only essential purchases for one month? An exercise like this can be revealing into how much of our spending is discretionary, and how little we need to actually live on.
Here’s the challenge: For the month of February, eliminate as much unnecessary spending as possible. That’s right: no restaurants, no coffee shops, no new clothes, furniture, tech, etc. Force yourself to get creative for one month. What does this tangibly look like?
- Instead of Starbucks, make your coffee at home.
- Instead of eating meat for each meal, substitute it with rice and beans.
- Instead of buying new headphones because your current pair broke, go without until March.
- Instead of ordering delivery food at night, meal plan with whatever is in your pantry.
This may sound unnecessary (and honestly, no one is forcing you to do this), but the exercise of not living on all of your income can be a enlightening moment regarding your spending habits. If you’re someone who likes rewards (everyone raise your hand) imagine how much extra money you’ll have at the end of February because of what you didn’t buy:
- Extra money to pay down your credit card debt.
- Extra money to build your emergency fund.
- Extra money to put towards retirement.
- Extra money to donate to a charity or organization you value.
Are you ready to take the challenge? Write out what areas you will cut out of your budget for February (remember, you can pick these up in March) and see how much extra money you’ll have (but don’t forget to pay the mortgage!).
If you’re wanting to tighten your financial belt but would like a copilot to help you plan it out, reach out to your team of Money Advisors at Francis Investment Counsel to get expert advice without the sales pitch. Schedule a meeting at moneyadviceatwork.com/meet-us.