In my last blog A wake up call? – Your life after Coronavirus I talked about identifying what has made you happy in lockdown and how you can start to plan your life and change your habits to create the life you want.
We’ve had a massive change enforced on us in the last few months and we’ve had no choice to adapt, but the world is starting to awaken again and people are slowly returning to work and with that there is a natural inclination to return to old habits that may not be helping us. So how do we prevent against that ? After I wrote the blog I then realised people are generally reluctant to change even when it’s in their best interest to do so, so why is that?
Resistant To Change
We all have our personal comfort zones and convince ourselves that anything outside of that is bad or fearful and we are reluctant to change our habits because what we are doing makes us feel comfortable and safe – but what if outside of your comfort zone is something better but you feel you have to make sacrifices to get it ? Sometimes the fear of making a change is just the feeling that you will have to make a sacrifice.
Don’t make sacrifices – make informed choices
You mention the word sacrifice to anyone and I can guarantee it induces feelings of fear, it conjures up feelings of dread and hardship and having to rely on bucketloads of willpower. Feelings of sacrifice are not very conducive to changing habits as you are constantly telling yourself that you don’t want to do something and doing it is causing you pain. Typically most people just think of smoking as a habit and giving it up is hard, but did you also realise that much of our spending comes from habits and beliefs and to change them may initially feel as a sacrifice.
However, to see changing our money habits as a sacrifice is to only look at one side of the coin, the negative side. Just like giving up smoking if you focus on the negative – what you are losing – changing that habit becomes hard. However, when you shift your perspective to know the positives of any habit, then you can make the CHOICE to change and it all becomes a lot easier, you will make better money choices instinctively.
For example I recently worked with a young man Adam*, who had a good well paying job and really wanted to buy his first car but believed he couldn’t afford it as he hadn’t set aside funds to save for one. Previoulsy reliant on public transport, getting the car would shave significant time off his travel each day and given him more freedom outside of work. When we looked at his finances it became clear he was spending on average over £40 a week in the works cafeteria. It didn’t seem a lot to him on a daily basis , a couple of coffees a day, snacks and lunch, and when I asked him about it he said “ he worked hard and he deserved it”.
“I deserve it”
I had no doubt he worked hard but I believe the phrase “ I deserve it “ is a mindset that contributes for a lot of wasted money in the world. We use it constantly to justify to ourselves short term rewards over long term goals ( another blog on that coming shortly) So I gently challenged him on that belief and pointed out that £40 a week was approx £160 a month that he could save towards his car and / or contribute to finance if he didn’t want to wait. Initially he was resistant and I could see the thought of giving up a weeks worth of “designer coffee” and cafeteria lunch instantly was too much to change all at once . So we broke it down – which one did he get the most pleasure out of ? It turns out it was coffee on his desk whilst working and he agreed lunch wasn’t that special – just convenient – and he could prepare lunch at home the night before.
So by breaking it down and taking baby steps he started to change his habits , halved his expenses and started to save money in the process. He could have stuck with the same pattern 3 times a week and cut out food and coffee 2 days , or allowed Friday as a treat day, there is no right or wrong way to change, just what fits you. So he is still having his coffee mid morning and afternoon but now that he is more aware of the money he is spending and informed of where it can benefit him in a bigger way he can make better choices I’ve no doubt they will shortly be cut down or cut out altogether
So , what habits do you have in place or may automatically revert to, that may not be benefiting you in in the long term ? In Adams example above his goal was a car but for you it could be bigger – £160 a month would make a significant dent in mortgage repayments and mean you are mortgage free earlier, or maybe your pension pot could be boosted. There are some great calculators around that I use that can really show you how small changes can add up to big goals, my favorites are MoneySavingExpert – Mortgage Overpayment Calculator and Compound Interest Calculator but to give you an illustration, £160 as example above, paid monthly off a £130,000 Mortgage for 25 years at 3.5% would shave almost 7 years off the mortgage and save over £19K in interest,
The choices are yours and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing you can get a balance. Remember this is not about big sacrifices or giving up things you really love but taking action to change non-essential habits for a bigger goal.
How Financial Coaching Can Help
In financial coaching we don’t just work with you on a money plan to achieve your life goals we examine the thoughts, habits and beliefs that have prevented you from achieving them in the past, some may be simple as in the example above and some may be more complex, and work together on changing them. We won’t ask you to “make sacrifices” instead we discover what you actually want out of life and then explore the choices you have, backed up with sound financial knowledge.
I hope the above has helped but if there is anything worrying you that you would like to discuss I am currently offering financial coaching for free until the end of August, so drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help
- Name has been changed for privacy