It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer. - Albert Einstein
Recently I was approached by a reporter. They were doing a story on people who were tired of the effort it takes to control their spending. What suggestions, she asked, did I have for people who were struggling and thinking of just giving up?
A little time brought to mind some of the things that I've seen people do who continue when the easiest course was to quit.
The first is to make a decision. Once you've decided to pursue a goal, do not question it. Unless you have significant new information, you have no reason to doubt your original decision. So don't trouble yourself with questions. Just continue along the path you chose to follow.
The second involves breaking big goals into smaller pieces. They say that success breeds success. I believe that's true. Dividing a big goal into smaller goals allows you to have some smaller successes along the way. Each one helps to motivate you to strive for the next small goal. Pretty soon you've accomplished the big goal.
Rewards are the third tool to accomplish financial goals. Most of us want to know "what's in it for me?" That's only natural. So put something in it for yourself. If you're paying off a credit card, treat yourself to a small reward at predetermined points along the way (i.e. after $2,500 has been paid down or when the balance is reduced by 25%). Looking forward to the reward takes your mind off of the struggle.
Reminders can also be helpful. If you're saving for a vacation, you'll find that a picture of the campgrounds on the refrigerator can be a great motivation. Some people put a card in their wallet to remind them of their commitment to reduce debt. They see it every time they reach for cash or a credit card. It can help you resist needless purchases.
Finally, it's helpful to have friends to encourage you and share experiences. Most long journeys are much easier if we have one or more people to walk with us. So find a frugal living partner at work or in your neighborhood. Or join an online discussion group. Not only will you find help, but you'll become stronger when you encourage others. In fact, we have one specifically on Frugal Fatigue.
So don't let the length of the journey discourage you. The total distance is not that important. All you have to do is to stay on track for today. And, that's something that all of us can do.
Keep on Stretchin' those Dollars!