Balancing Conflicting Financial Priorities
Life is all about finding a delicate balance between priorities.
work v. play
sleep v. binge-watching Tiger King
eating your veggies the day after a night out on the town.
It can be hard to know when to indulge and when you need to exert some control. The same is true of your finances since money is finite and there are usually more demands on our wallets than resources. So, I want to give you a few concrete tips on how to balance your conflicting financial goals/priorities.
Decide beforehand what you’re going to spend. This is probably the most key. If you often find yourself wondering where your money went or why you are not hitting your savings goals, it’s likely that you are not intentionally deciding where your money is going or how much you’re going to spend. So how do you solve that? If you’re not hitting your savings goals, try automating transfers to your savings account on paydays. This removes the cash from your checking account and lowers temptation to spend.
If you tend to overspend in certain categories like eating out, it is helpful to decide how much you can afford to spend each time you are going out and keep yourself to that. Having that hard ceiling of $75 will keep you from ordering that extra round of cocktails.
Ask yourself ‘which of these will I really regret not achieving?’.
Last year I made the decision to make every big decision in my life by asking the question “will I regret not doing this when I’m on my deathbed?”. It’s been very illuminating and saved me from short-term thinking. I find I keep my eye on the prize (a fulfilling, adventure-filled life) more than ever.
Look at the list of financial goals you want to achieve and ask yourself “which of these will I regret not doing the most?” For my personal finances, that has always been retirement and education savings for my 3 daughters. I prioritize those and have made them non-negotiable in my finances. Everything else is secondary. I would have to be pretty financially unstable to get to a point where I actually consider not funding either of those.
Have a strong “why”
This is crucial to achieving any goal you set. Your finances are no different. If the reason “why” you want to achieve a goal is not crystal clear and stronger than your temptation not to follow through, then you won’t achieve it. In my personal case, I feel very strongly about being financially secure so as to avoid putting any pressure on my children. I never want them to have to worry about caring for mom & dad financially which is why I’ve made my retirement security my #1 priority in my finances. The idea of depending upon them in any way is so repugnant to me that I’d do just about anything(and won’t do lots of things that would derail my plan) to ensure I’m saving for the future. Do you see what I’m getting at here?
Be extremely careful not to use someone else’s goals as your own though. Don’t set a goal of buying a home just because your mom wants you to. In this case, your “why” won’t be strong enough to sustain you through the inevitable temptations that arise.
I hope this was helpful and gave you some ideas as to how to balance your financial goals. If you want some additional help or an accountability partner, please reach out so we can discuss!