Updated on 09.08.10

Sometimes a Little Boost Is All You Need

Trent Hamm

Every day, I receive dozens of emails from readers describing their financial situation and asking, very simply, what I think about it.

A lot of those letters come from people in very difficult situations where it’s clear that some major life changes are in order. Without making some sort of a significant change – moving, drastically cutting spending, telling a loved one a closely-guarded secret, seeking professional help, selling off some significant assets – they’re going to go bankrupt or do irrepairable damage to relationships in their life.

Just as often, though, I read emails from people that just need a small boost to get where they’re going.

They’re on the right path, but they’re feeling like it’s very long and arduous.

They’re breaking even and need just a little bit more to get ahead.

They’re on the verge of reaching their goal, but they’re having a bit of cold feet before taking that leap.

In short, they’re just shy of being in a place that they want to be in. All they need is a little boost.

I think we all find ourselves in that kind of situation sometimes. I know I certainly do.

I’ll be on the road towards a savings goal and feel impatient along the way, like when I was saving up for a computer replacement two years ago. I’ll be on the verge of reaching a goal, like completing my last book, but find myself fretting deeply about finally calling it “done.” I’ll spend a few weeks just writing exactly enough to maintain The Simple Dollar and begin to really dig deep looking for ways to get ahead a bit with my writing.

When I’m in one of those “almost there” situations, I look for a little boost to put me over the top.

A financial boost Sometimes, a bit of cash right away will do the trick. Other times, shaving just a bit off of a monthly budget will help. Whatever it is, often the smallest of pushes can turn a sense of stress and overextension into a sense of success.

How can you get a financial boost? Sell something. Have a yard sale. Use a frugality tip or two, preferably ones that can directly cut your monthly bills. That little cash boost can often tweak things just enough to make a negative into a positive.

A confidence boost Believing that you actually can pull something off can often make the difference between success and failure.

How can you get a confidence boost? Talk to trusted friends, ones that don’t drag you down with their responses. Take a long look at the things you’ve already achieved in life and ask yourself if what you’re doing now is really that much beyond some of the things you’ve already achieved. Get some exercise, eat better, and get some sleep (you’d be surprised how much this works).

A creative boost So many jobs today rely on or make great use of creative work. Our home lives, in many cases, also thrive on a bit of creativity (think about cooking, for example). When we’re out of creativity, our lives begin to fall into a routine place and feel very drab.

How can you get a creative boost? My best technique is to withdraw for a while. Rather than continuing to squeeze the orange and get no more juice, I step back and take a break. I load up on mindless busy work. I play with my kids, simply doing whatever they want. What I find is that eventually, things start to click again.

A motivational boost We’re moving in a certain direction, but we’re no longer sure if it’s the right direction. Why are we doing this?

How can you get a motivational boost? For me, it’s all about the goal-setting. If I’m feeling lost as to why I’m doing certain things in my life, I focus on the goal. Is this something I really want? Have my goals changed or am I just losing touch with them? I spend time really focusing on the outcome and making sure that it’s something I really want for my life.

Sometimes, all it takes is just a little boost to get us on the right track again.

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  1. april says:

    How apropos! I learned today that my hours (part-time to begin with) are being reduced due to lack of funding and projects. I read this and thought “yeah, I need a boost.” I think I just got one. Thanks!

  2. valleycat1 says:

    Wow, Trent – it’s not every day that you leave everyone speechless- looks like you covered it!

  3. Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire ) says:

    Fantastic set of advice! I sometimes find myself procrastinating when I need to get a big project done or I’m trying to reach my goals. The confidence and motivational boosts sound like they just might do the trick.

    Fun read!

  4. shweta santosh says:

    the very life of our life, along with the capacities of sustennance, thinking and feeling has descendede.
    thank you………

  5. Roberta says:

    Here’s an idea for a financial boost. Yesterday just for kicks I went to the unclaimed property sites of the states where I’ve lived over the years. I found that in 2 states, I had money unclaimed. I downloaded and printed the paperwork to send in to try to get the money. It was something like $33 from a fast food job I had in high school, and $90+ in a credit union account. I don’t know if I’ll get the money, but it seems on the up & up. That could be a financial boost for someone, and will be for me if I actually get this money.

  6. ditchtheboss says:

    What an excellent article. I think you have covered everything. When we are in need to financial boost we can sell something to get more money and/or do some trimming as you mentioned.

    You have also covered goal reviewing which is an excellent way to get motivated. When I fell that I am not getting anywhere I review my goals and think how far I have traveled so far and what I have achieved.

    Thank you for a great article.

  7. Chris H says:

    Great article Trent. The first paragraph was a little tough for me to read today, having spent the afternoon yesterday with a client in real financial trouble. With much hard work and a great deal of luck, they might, in a year, be in a better place, but right now they really are skirting disaster.

    I’m seeing more of this now, obviously. It’s very painful and I give these people all the respect in the world for facing the reality of their situation head on. It’s often hard for people to deal with their finances, it’s such a loaded area for so many. But when the picture is so dismal that you just want to turn away with every ounce of your being, and you don’t, that’s pretty damn courageous.

    Thank goodness for you and the other good PF bloggers out there that provide support to people trying to improve their financial lives.

    Keep up the great work!

  8. Jill says:

    That’s so true. My hours are really variable at the moment, and I’ve been feeling a bit…meh, oh dear, going to be short of money this month. We’ve got some really big stuff coming up (moving house and then rewiring!) but this was a nice boost to get me to hang on in there.

    Come next week, the more ‘out-there’ frugality stuff can be implemented (making washing powder and cleaning products) because we’ll be in our own house with nobody to say we can’t.

    I’m really grateful not to be skirting disaster, too. No matter the drama in my life, there’s always somebody worse off.

  9. Lindsay says:

    VERY helpful post! Thank you very much!

  10. Kris says:

    One of the hardest things about struggling with debt is feeling alone. It’s hard to admit to those close to you (heck, its hard to admit to yourself) that you are struggling financially. So a little boost makes sense!

  11. A.R.M. says:


    Your site is my boost! For the past couple of years your material has been my motivation to achieve my goals. However today is the day where I finally get to visit your site to not only get motivated, but to also express my sincerest gratitude.

    About four years ago I was introduced to Dave Ramsey’s material and after doing more research on fiances I ran across your site–and haven’t left. I promised myself that the day I was debt free I was going to thank you for helping make it possible. So, thank you. Today I am officially 100% debt free!

    Thank you for your daily postings of thoughtful, well-written articles that cover a vast array of interesting topics. Thank you for making financial concepts easy to understand. Thank you for the tips, sound advice and accessible website layout. Thank you for sharing your personal anecdotes and making them relatable to the masses. Thank you for reminding me that it’s all worth it when I needed a push over the many bumps in the road that set me back, or when I would lose sight of why I was trying to get my fiances in order in the first place. I can’t thank you enough for nudging me along the way and helping to bring me to where I am today.

    It wasn’t easy and it may have taken four years to pay off over $20,000 but I was able to persevere because you helped me focus. There are plenty of more goals to reach where that came from, but I think for at least today I’m going to revel in my newfound freedom and give thanks to those who helped get me there.

    Keep on truckin,


  12. Microfinance India says:

    i hope to financial boost like dream, alone is not important but how long one dreams to realise is what counts at end is important. although dreams from an essential part of the human servival, how many us have translate dreams to reality. there may be reasons to defend our mistakes, but it is a inversel fact that hard work with conviction leads to great success. today many of us are idle, beacause there is no motivation. without it ideas cannot be translate in to reality.

  13. Business India says:

    the richness we see around in nature is veriety. without uniformity;
    behind rich veriety, there is the all pervading life, which is unity.

  14. Reminds me of

    “You get by with a little help from my friends….”

  15. Daniel Fryar says:

    A lot of little things that give me a creativity boost:
    Go to ikea or a craft store or office supply store and just browse. Nice little way to get your brain working on new projects. Or garage sales or a flea market or thrift store. Wal-Mart WILL NOT work.
    Read something from a random genre that is outside your experience.
    Spend 15 minutes on stumbleupon.com or blogger.com hitting next blog.
    There are innumerable things to do in this world. Usually, if you find yourself in a rut, it’s one you’ve been making.

  16. Jessica says:

    Great Article! Taking a mental break for me is the best way to give me the boost I need. My goals have not been met, yet. However, I am still aiming for the sky.

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