How many times do we make a goal and then forget about it?
Or maybe we don’t forget about our goal, but the craziness of life takes over and crowds out the important habits we were developing to aid us in achieving our goal.
A couple of years ago my kids had a “penny wars” fundraiser at school. The kids were encouraged to bring in pennies and spare change (and you better believe they accepted paper money and checks too).
Students could add the money they brought to their class’s jar or they could use it to “bomb” other classes (bombs are deducted from the other class’s total).
It sounds like a small fundraiser, but it raised thousands of dollars for the small school!
The motivation and enthusiasm of the kids was incredible.
Do you know what all the hype was about?
The winning class got an ice cream party. And got the penny wars trophy for a year.
My kids were begging for extra chores to earn money to bring to school for penny wars. Begging to do chores! Now that’s serious motivation!
Besides earning money for penny wars, my kids each had their own individual savings goal. My (then) 6-year-old son, for example, had his heart set on buying a remote control helicopter. He was excited about saving up for it, but I remember noting that that goal didn’t have him begging for extra chores like penny wars did.
The funny thing was, if you asked him if he’d rather have an ice cream party or a helicopter, he’d choose the helicopter, hands down.
Then why was he begging for chores to earn money for penny wars instead of the remote control helicopter fund?
Simple. The penny wars goal was constantly in his face.
In your face!
He got excited about it every day at school for two weeks. All the discussion at school got him fired up and encouraged. His teacher and classmates reminded him daily. It was at the top of his mind.
On the other hand, he never had any reminders or encouragement to save up for a helicopter (though he did eventually save up for and buy one!).
Money can be hard to hang onto. If your financial goals aren’t in your face, it’s easy to give your money to less important priorities that are in your face.
Often it’s those small expenses that satisfy current cravings that end up getting our dollars.
What can you do to keep your financial goal in your face and constantly on your radar?
Maybe for you it’s a colorful debt reduction chart on the fridge where you color a square each time you put a certain amount of money toward knocking out your debt.
You might have pictures of that dream vacation you’re saving up for placed strategically throughout your house.
Maybe you have a sticky note on your credit card reminding about your goal every time you attempt to use it.
With positive, in-your-face reminders and encouragement, you’re much more likely to make the choices that will help you reach your goal.
In fact, sometimes in-your-face reminders that aren’t postivie can be motivating too.
When we were paying off debt, the sacrifices we were making were a constant reminder of our goal. For example, when we were living in my in-laws’ unfinished basement while we paid off our debt, we had a step-up bathroom. My super tall husband could not even stand up straight in the shower, a daily reminder to not derail our debt payoff.
I wouldn’t suggest going our of your way to fabricate negative reminders, but if they’re there, you may as well use them to your advantage. Generally, positive reinforcement is the route I prefer to take.
Whatever you choose to do, find some way to keep your goal in front of your face.
I would love to hear what you’re doing to keep focused and motivated on your financial goals!
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Hi Stephanie – Great post and love the push for using visual management to keep you on track!
At my house, I’ve got a few whiteboards that are strategically placed which I am constantly updating with our goals and progress. It’s so easy to forget how much hard work has already been done, so having a way to keep it front and center can be a big motivator. Another thing I’ve heard of people doing this is writing their goals using a dry-erase marker on their bathroom mirrors. It’s a neat way to start your day off with the right focus.
Krystal @ Simple Finance Mom says
I am using a bullet journal this year! It is super motivating for me and I love how the visuals are so pretty. I also have a page in their for each month for me to track every single expense. THAT is motivation enough for us not to spend unnecessary amounts of money.
We paid off our house in 3 years after listening to a Dave Ramsey episode that put the thought into our head. To keep motivated we made charts and kept listening to those debt free stories on his show. It feels so good not having any debt and also very liberating too! When your monthly bills are only $500 and you have 18 months of living expenses saved, you don’t freak out over a job loss (which happened to us last year). So very thankful that we listened to that radio show so many years ago!