One of the concepts fundamental to physics is that of inertia. Inertia is the tendency of a physical object to resist change in its current state of motion or rest. If an object is moving, it will resist stopping. If an object is at rest, it will resist being put into motion. The same concept can be used to describe finances. Often, we have built up financial inertia. We are going along a certain path, engaging in certain money habits, and it is difficult to break out of that situation. If you are looking to overcome financial inertia, here are some things you can try to get yourself out of your rut:
1. Start Small
Big changes are the hardest to make. Making lots of changes at once is also difficult. Starting small can make the whole process a little bit easier. Consider starting out with a small change. Put $50 more each month into your retirement account. Cut back your meals eaten out by one. Instead of trying to change a lot of things at once, think of your most important financial priority and begin working on that.
Sometimes what it takes is a little automatic help. Having trouble setting money aside for retirement or putting money into a HSA? Have the money automatically deducted from your pay check. Are you habitually late with your bills because you keep forgetting to mail the check? Sign up for direct debit. This can change the way your finances are going, and get you on a better track.
3. Track Your Money
One of the reasons many people get stuck in certain financial ruts is due to the fact that they don’t really know what is going on with their finances. If your habits lead to spending beyond your credit limits, start tracking your spending. Enter purchases into personal finance software — including credit card purchases. This way, you will see exactly where the money is going. For many people, that is a wake up call; sometimes all you need is a little nudge to help you change course.
4. Get a Money Buddy
If you are in a committed relationship, this can be fairly easy. You and your life partner should be accountable to each other. Make time to plan your finances together, setting goals and then assessing your progress. You can do this if you are single as well. Find a friend or family member. Tell him or her of your plans, and ask for help or encouragement. Maybe your buddy can come up with his or her own plan! Then, periodically check in. A little accountability can go a long way in helping you overcome your financial inertia.
5. Start Today
If you keep saying that you will start tomorrow, you are likely to remain in your current financial state. Take the first step today, immediately, will put you on track to begin overcoming your habits. You will find that once you have overcome inertia to change course, it is a little easier to add momentum to your efforts.
This is a guest post. Miranda Marquit is a journalistically trained freelance writer and professional blogger working from home. She has been a contributor for Mainstreet.com, Personal Dividends and several other sites. Miranda is not affiliated or endorsed by LPL Financial.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information and are not intended to provide specific advice and/or recommendations for any individual.