Friday, May 1, 2009

Falling Off The Wagon

In my journey to financial independence, I've struggled, stumbled, rededicated myself, and persevered. Like kicking addictions, financial health is all about identifying destructive behavior and building new habits. Unfortunately, like kicking addictions there are stumbling blocks. Do you run for your favorite department store to combat depression? Pick up the last round of drinks because it's "the thing to do?" Buy the expensive gift to impress the giftee? Or, lend that friend or family member your savings because you feel responsible for them? These are all unhealthy habits that keep us in debt, but forgetting to budget for basics like food, gas, or that emergency savings. I think, "If I can just pay off that bill quicker, I'll be free." What really happens is that emergency comes up or there are no groceries left for that last day before payday.
So how do we change these habits? First, identify the triggers. Next, make baby steps until the changes become what feels normal. Then, build in a cushion for those slips. Make sure you also build in rewards along the way so you don't feel deprived and "binge." Most importantly, don't beat yourself up. Acknowledge the set back and get back on track.

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