Recently, a friend of mine offered up an interesting thought on personal finance issues: “You know what the worst part about getting your money straight is? The waiting. It doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years. All of that waiting on your debts to go away is just excruciating.”
I know exactly what he means – and it’s not just the debts either. The same thing can be true if you’re saving for a down payment for a house or simply waiting until you can make the next leap in your career.
Personal finance success often means waiting. Patience is pretty much a required virtue.
It’s an interesting contrast to many aspects of day-to-day life, where speed is valued and instant gratification is the rule. It’s no wonder, given how other elements of life work, that many people struggle with the patience needed to make personal finance work for them.
How can you play and win the waiting game when it comes to your money? Here are some things that I do in my own life.
Automate everything I make most elements of my finances completely automatic through automatic transfers and other mechanisms. I never have to talk myself into moving money into savings each and every month. It just happens without me taking any action on it.
Money gets transferred to my retirement savings. It gets transferred to 529 accounts for each of my kids. Several of my regular bills are paid. And I don’t have to lift a finger. It just happens.
Don’t look at your balances Come up with a plan for achieving your goal before you start, then don’t even look at your account balances until you’re close to that goal. Seriously. Looking at your balances forces you to reflect on how long it is until you reach your goals, adding to the sense of waiting.
I just don’t look at these balances at all. Whenever I examine a statement, I’m mostly verifying that things are being deducted and contributed correctly. The balance itself just causes me to reflect on the distance I’ve yet to travel.
Set a mix of goals Most people think about personal finance in terms of big goals, such as paying off big debts or saving for big things. In truth, you can feel success with personal finance and get the sense of achieving goals if you choose some shorter term goals, too.
I’m usually saving for some specific goal or specific item that I expect to come to fruition within the next several months. Right now, for example, I’m saving for a walking desk for my office. I’ll be able to achieve that goal in the next few months, giving me a strong sense of success in my endeavors.
Share your experiences It’s a lot easier to manage a big, long term goal if you know you’re in it with others. Don’t be afraid to talk about the challenges of being patient with your friends. You’ll probably be surprised to find that they’re dealing with much the same thing that you are.
Over time, I’ve found it a comfort to talk to my friends about personal finances when I focus on the struggles we all have in common. Simply knowing that they’re in it for a long haul as well makes it easier to deal with. We’re all in this together.
Patience is a vital virtue when it comes to personal finance, but it doesn’t have to be a weight dragging you down. By simply taking a few basic actions to combat impatience, you can make the whole process easier as you head down the road to success.