When we were trying to pay off debt, it was frustrating to hear about people quickly paying off more debt than what we made in a whole year.
For the first five years of our marriage, we never made more that $35,000 in a year. Many times it was much less. Our low income made it hard to feel like we were getting ahead. It literally took years to save up six months of expenses in our emergency fund.
Then, of course, there were times when we were saving up for something special and the car would break and we would have to spend our saved money on that instead. In fact, that still happens all the time. We’re saving for a down payment on our next house right now and last week the muffler fell off of our car.
Trying to get ahead with your finances can cause a roller coaster of emotions. These are the ways I deal with discouragement.
When You’re Discouraged About Your Finances
Gratitude & Positivity Go a Long Way
I am a huge believer that your attitude can comepletely change any situation. Positivity and thankfulness are so important.
When you’re discouraged about money stuff, I bet you can still find some things to be grateful for.
Do you have food to eat and a place to sleep tonight? Those two things might feel like the bare minimum to be thankful for, but there a far too many people wishing that they had those things to be thankful for right now.
Keep a gratitude journal or find the positive in your frustrating situation and things might start to look better.
Be Easy on Yourself
I can be really hard on myself when I’m trying so hard to save money or pay off a debt. I want it so bad and I can get easily frustrated when life happen and it gets in the way of my goals. Can you relate?
Here’s the thing. You are trying. You are making an effort. You are doing the best that you can and that is completely good enough.
There will always be setbacks, but as long as you keep doing the best you can with what life gives you, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Set Some Short Term Goals
When we started trying to save an emergency fund, it felt impossible. I was so discouraged thinking about how we were ever going to save six month’s of expenses when there was hardly any money leftover at the end of the month. It was too big of a goal.
Setting short-term goals can keep you from feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. I broke our six month emergency fund goal into smaller chunks so that I could feel like we were making progress.
If you’re trying to pay off debt, set small weekly or monthly goals if you’re discouraged by the total.
If you’re trying to spend less on groceries, try to spend $5 less this week than you normally would.
Small goals give us victories along the way to accomplishing a big goal.
Visualize Your Goals
We set a huge savings goal a few years back so that Austin could quit his job an go back to school full time to finish his degree.
It helped so much to visualize our goal. I made a savings thermometer chart (like this one) and stuck it to the wall. Every month when I transferred the money we had saved for tuition, I colored in the chart some more. I was amazed at how motivating the chart was. I could see how much progress we had made and I was motivated to keep saving every penny because I saw the difference it was making.
Whether you’re saving for a big purchase or trying to pay off debt, creating something so that you can see your progress is hugely motivating.
When I’m discouraged, it helps to look back and see how far we’ve come.
We’ve payed off small debts one by one. We’ve saved for an emergency fund. We’ve controlled our spending. We’ve created a budget and stuck to it (most of the time). We’ve avoided new debt. We’ve payed our credit card bill in full each month. We’ve put items back on the shelf because we didn’t need them.
Look back and see the progress you’ve made. You might not be where you’d like to be with your finances, but you’re not where you were.
⇒ Do you been dealing with financial discouragement? What happened that set you back?
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