How to Make Changes
Will You Quit?
How many times have you felt like saying that? How many times have you wanted to quit fighting, struggling, going to work every day, trying to balance the budget, keeping the car on the road, keeping a warm roof over your head and the heads of your family, keeping food in the bellies of those who rely on you, and, well, the list can be endless.
So many times we wish we could take the easy road and live without worry. So many times we forget that there is really no such thing as living without worry. Even those with money have their problems and some of those problems could (and often does) drag them down to poverty and homelessness with the drop of a dime.
Have You Ever Tried To Make Changes In Yourself?
How Can We Make The Changes That Are Needed?
"Money is the root of all evil"
Finances are often the root of many issues, good and bad. To help fix your finances, you must make changes to how you live, and vice versa. Sounds easy doesn't? Change how I live and 'presto' my finances are fixed? Sorry, life just doesn't work that way**sigh**. Change takes time, especially when it comes to your life (which, of course, is affected by your finances, among other things).
- So, with the future fast approaching,what can you do to make the necessary changes required?
Change you and how you perceive things that are done or that you are doing. Seeing things from a different prospective can open your eyes to new directions.
- Is it possible to make those changes immediately?
No, change takes time and habit forming techniques.
- Is it only a trick designed to make you keep striving for more while losing control piece by piece?
It is no trick and no loss of control. In fact you wilI be more in-control than ever before.
- Is it just a dream to want more for you and your family?
It is a dream, but one you can make come true. It is possible, but it will take a lot of willpower and hard work.
Thought you were going to have a magic pill or something, right? Yes, I know, the truth is change in anything is hard. But you can do it.
No Magic Pill **SIGH**
Make The First List
First of all you should make a list of everything you have. Be sure to include things that are not important for survival but that belong to you like RV’s, boats, extra coats, lots of shoes, accessories, second cars, tents, expensive holiday decorations that you probably don't use, and maybe the extra furniture that you stored at Aunt Gerry’s down the road. Take your time with this list. Record even the smallest thing you have like pencils and erasers (well maybe not that detailed). Take a moment to look in your sheds and attic. Take a moment to look in those totes you put away two years ago and can’t remember what’s in them. You will be surprised at how much stuff you really have once you begin to list it all. Don't worry about value, just list them.
What now? I know that you just made the longest list of your life. You are now exhausted and fairly certain that it was all in vain, right? Not really. The list is to help you see what you actually do have. Now prioritize the list and mark items you really don't need. Sadly, most of us have tons of 'things' that fill storage sheds and closets. 'Things' that are rarely used but clutter our lives. How many 'things' on your list can you honestly do without?
This Is A Step That Might Seem Silly
Are there things that you need but do not have? We all do, no matter how much we already have. Things like a new car or boots for the kids. These things are so hard to get sometimes because after you pay the bills you barely have anything left, am I right? So you will need to change how and what you do in order to have enough left over. This next list, I'm sure you will agree, is going to seem a bit silly. But it is necessary to the changes you will need to make. So set the first list aside and work on this list:
- Get a small notebook, one you can easily carry in a pocket or purse (spouses should each have their own). A sheet of paper will work just as well.
- Now do the things you normally do and record each thing in your book.
- Things that cost money are the important ones, but then you might not think that driving fifty miles to get to your favorite restaurant (for example) is a cost but the trip will most likely make the dinner far more expensive than you think.
- Try to mark the cost of the item(s) since this is what we are trying to reduce.
- Don't skip anything because you think it won't affect the outcome because the amount is so small. Just seventy-five cents becomes a dollar fifty in two days, three dollars in four days and five dollars and twenty-five cents in seven days. Adds up quick.
- Mark items that you feel you cannot live without like a coffee in the morning.
Now, what did you do during a typical day that you could stop doing to save money? Examples could be: skip the second cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop; get a smaller size coffee; leave the pretty scarf on the shelf because you already have several at home; don't get those football tickets because you can see the game at home or when going out for the night stay within your town limits. Instead of using that money for things you don't need, put it into a fund for the things you will need in the future. That means that you could be saving money this week for something you need next week, but you will have the money to spend.
Not the easiest step, I know, but some things are necessary and some things are not. It really is that simple.
The Third List
You have made two very long lists, but at least one more is needed. You need to make a list of all of the things you need (or want) but do not have. Be sure to mark 'need' or 'want' next to it so you can tell quickly which item is which. I think this one is a hard one because we have such a hard time distinguishing 'need' from 'want'. How many of you would love a brand new car? How many have a good car and really don't need another one? How many buy the latest styles? How many don't have room in their closets for any more clothes or shoes? How many of you would be honest when answering the above questions?
.....boats, fancy cars, fancy restaurants, an outfit for every occasion, a house bigger than Texas, a swimming pool that costs more to maintain than most people's homes.....
Let's Talk About 'Things'
Here is another way to look at it. You have 'things'. You have wanted 'things' all your life and are proud to say you now have them. The 'things' you have give you prestige and make people see you in a different, but better, light. 'Things' keep us happy. 'Things' make us better than others. Having 'things' means we have achieved success, right? (Wait, what?)
Realistically, the car needs an oil change and the kids are outgrowing their clothes. The roof has begun to leak in the kitchen and the chimney needs to be cleaned. But you don’t have money for any of that because you have 'things'. The 'things' you have don’t help fix the roof or buy new clothes or change the oil in the car. Hmmmmm, think you might need to rethink your thoughts about all those 'things'?
Clothes for the kids.
A new Boat.
A new roof.
An in-ground pool.
An above ground pool.
Food for the table.
To eat out all the time.
Enough specialty appliances to open your own restaurant.
Do you flaunt your expensive things to family and friends?
Let's Use Those Lists Now To Change
Take all of your lists and, one by one, try to remove items from them that you don't need or really can't use. Make your decisions based on how you would like to change. Keep in mind that you are trying to change you and your finances. Here are some ideas:
- Sell what you don't need, how many times have you really used that ice-cream maker? Donate what you can't sell, give yourself more room by getting rid of the things you don't need. The rule is: if you haven't worn or used it in the past year, then you don't need it.
- Clearing your space will also mean less work, less dust, less searching and more room to move.
- Use money you save and/or earn to buy things you need (keep your third list in mine). Then save up what is leftover for the big things you want. That way you don't have debt to pay for the next thirty years.
- Stop spending money on the little things, like coffee. One coffee from a coffee shop can be as expensive as five dollars. Five dollars times five days a week is twenty-five dollars. I know you can spend that money on things you need. PSST: you can cut down on the size and how many you get to save money but still get your coffee fix.
- Stop trying to keep up with you friends and/or co-workers. Maybe you do make the same money, but you have a different situation. For instance, they may not have children and you do. Another would be they might have a gas guzzler sports car and you have a van that gets good gas mileage.
- Get the necessary things covered, then find things to purchase that everyone will enjoy all the time. It is so wasteful to get items that are used only once. If you absolutely must have an item, try getting it at a second-hand store, and then selling it when you are finished with it.
- Renting something is a great way to save money. Rather than buying a large item, rent it and then it goes back. You get savings on the purchase price and on space.
- Think about how much everyone else is spending for things they don't need. That gas guzzler probably runs your neighbor eighty dollars a week in gas alone. Their pool-water fall-jacuzzie in the back yard costs hundreds to maintain, and they are never in it.
Did I Hear A Groan?
You have completed the steps and whittled your way through the things you don’t need and chosen the items you can reduce to save money. Perhaps you now have money to purchase things you actually need. Let’s face it, you don’t have enough to get everything you need, right? No, most people don’t; but you did get some of the things you needed, and reduced the amount of clutter in your environment at the same time.
“So what," you say, "I don’t have 'things' anymore and so I have lost my prestige! I can’t tell people how wealthy I am because I no longer have 'things' to talk about!"
If flaunting your wealth is more important than achieving things that are really needed for you and your family, well, I feel sorry for your family. They are the ones that will suffer while you are out flaunting all of your wonderful 'things'. You only make enemies who are green with envy when you flaunt. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones's. They are only trying to keep up with you.
Are you changed? Yes, you have changed your financial situation by better using the funds you have. However, not all change is financial. You need to change you, inside I mean. Think about the following:
- Do you see someone needing help and help them, or walk away?
- Do you taunt others because they are different or new, or do you help them to fit in?
- Do you try to intimidate others to get your way or do you let others make their own choices?
- Do you make decisions based on your preferences or do you take those who would be affected into account?
- Do you exaggerate facts to make yourself look good or do you give credit where credit is due?
I am sure you can see the pattern here. You cannot change those around you, but you can change you. If you want a happier environment, then seek the positive attributes of your environment. That is the key to change. Looking at things with a positive attitude rather than a negative one. Negativity only pulls you and everyone around you down into a dark cave. Being positive, however, gives everyone the ladder they need to climb out of that cave. One of the best ways to change yourself to a positive attitude is to look in the mirror while getting dressed for the day and tell yourself that you are positive. That is the habit that will change you.
- Make a list of everything you have, everything you do and everything you need.
- Understanding what you have and whether or not you need it is a good beginning.
- Changing your spending habits can change your financial situation.
- Save the small amounts you have through changing your spending habits until they have added up to enough to get something you need. Once you have addressed items needed, you can get those things you want without guilt.
- Change happens a little at a time. Don't assume it will happen overnight.
- Be positive to you and to others.
- Don't cut your spending out completely. Try a small coffee every morning instead of the large one, or get the pretty scarf every now and then. Rewards to yourself are important too.
Don't forget to have fun. Time spent with family and friends is important to the welfare of you and everyone around you.
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds