If you are working towards bettering your personal finances, you probably have set up specific financial goals tailored for you.
Typically these will change and maybe even grow over the years, but either way, it’s a great way to keep you accountable. However, you may find yourself cheating on your financial goals and stifling your wealth accumulation.
No matter how consistent you are, cheating on your financial goals can and will happen. Bad money habits are hard to break and changing the course with your goals doesn’t always happen easily.
To this day, a few years after becoming focused on personal finance, I still have some cheating moments that may set me slightly back. It’s just something that is going to happen.
The challenge is catching your mistakes and then figuring out what to do when your financial cheating is hurting your goals and wallets.
Below are a few things you should do to get you focused and back on track with your financial goals.
What to Do When You’re Cheating on Your Finances
Temptations are all around when it comes to spending, investing, budgeting, or whatever it may be that gets you out of your financial groove.
I think it happens more often when you are first starting to find your rhythm. But, it will happen even when you have years of financial discipline too (typically you catch yourself much faster at that point).
If you find yourself cheating on your financial goals, start doing some of the following to refresh and get back on track.
1. Don’t dwell on your mistake(s)
The good thing right away is that you realize you were cheating on your financial goals. Honestly, that deserves a pat on the back. And the fact you want to get back on track deserves a round of applause. When you realize you are making mistakes, it’s easy to get down on yourself or dwell on the mistakes. This can cause extra aggravation, thoughts of giving up on your finances or cause you to make rash decisions.
Recognize it and then move on. Hold yourself accountable, but realize this is entirely common.
2. Figure out what went wrong
After committing your financial infidelity and realizing what you are doing, you need to figure out why this happened. What went wrong and where did it start?
Typically, it might be a pretty simple answer or obvious to what happened. A common theme for getting out of your groove is when your old habits creep back up. If you’re especially new to working on finances and your goals, these better money habits you are trying to achieve are quite hard to stay focused on.
Yet, sometimes it takes some financial digging to figure out what might have happened. Definitely true if you didn’t catch on or were not focusing for a longer period of time.
No matter what, spend some time figuring out what went wrong. Why did this happen? How can I ensure this doesn’t happen again?
3. Reset your money habits
Now that you caught it and can see what went wrong, you can hit the reset on your financial goals. By this, I don’t necessarily mean change your goals completely, but reset your process to get back in the groove.
This means start those money habits over with a clean slate. For example, one of your goals might be to save or make six-figures but you may have to start fresh pending how far your setback is currently. However, all is not lost! It means starting over, eliminate the temptations of where you made the wrong turn, and stick to those good habits.
Easier said than done! But the repetition of good habits will become easier and your self-control financially will get stronger.
4. Remind yourself of your goals
One of the best motivators when I fell off track, was to remind myself of my financial goals. Sure, breaking your good habits and spending money might feel good at the moment, but remember how you felt after when you weren’t sticking to your plan?
That was one punch in the gut that was a great reminder, but that might not always be enough.
I found not only reminding myself of my ambitious goals to keep me on track but add simple reminders around you can visually read. Post-it notes on your computer, calendar reminders on your payday to keep you on savings/budget targets, etc.
What money affirmations can you tell yourself to keep the motivation high and ensure you keep a positive mentality? It all helps you re-focus on your financial goals.
5. Celebrate the wins (even small ones)
A good way to keep your mind focus, not dwell, or feel too down on yourself is to always celebrate the wins. Even those small financial wins, nothing is insignificant.
It makes you feel good about what you are doing, even if you were cheating financially a few times. Look for the positives and other areas you did well.
Working on your financial goals and sticking to your plan in your busy life is not always easy. You deserve to acknowledge and be proud of your efforts, regardless if it’s a simple as not buying a $ 5 cup of coffee.
Many times, the reason for cheating on your financial goals is there is a lot on your mind. Life can get hectic, things can change in an instant.
6. Clear your mind
There will be a lot of stressful moments that can affect your mindset, which may steer you off the positive financial path.
If you recognize this or you know you have a lot of racing through your mind, take time away to get your mind more at ease.
Even if that means taking a step back from your financial goals for a bit to focus on you.
That Time I Cheated on My Financial Goals….
I say “that time” but there was plenty! As I said, personal finances and staying with your goals can be challenging. I think the best example I can give, is when I set a budget when it came to spending on food. There are a few cheating moments when it comes to my spending with food, so I’ll just be a bit more general.
One of my biggest expenses (and sometimes still is) is spending on food, like going out to eat or craving something that I just had to have.
I love trying new restaurants and hitting up different spots. But, this adds up. Even if it’s like $ 25 here and there. I’m all for treating yourself and not being extremely frugal, but even after setting a limit for myself I’d fall back into the trap.
Not really a huge slip-up, right?
The reason I use this example is cheating on my set food budget affected other areas of my finances then like: my savings rate and carrying a credit card balance.
Part of my financial goals (and still is) is increasing my savings rate, saving consistently, and using my credit card less.
And cheating on one of your financial goals can be something small, but it can trickle into other goals of yours too.
While I may have been slightly tongue-in-cheek with this post in some parts, I think the underlying message holds some value (hopefully!). You’re going to make missteps as you work towards your financial goals.
Doesn’t matter what level of financial knowledge you have, it will happen. Some errors may be small missteps, others may be a bit more cringe-worthy when you catch it.
But catching your financial cheating is the best first step you can take.
Apply some of the above tips, which should help ease your mind and get you back to crushing your money goals.