Finding Your Financial Happy Place: 10 Habits That Will Help

By Mike Peterson
In February 24, 2014

Sometimes we look at getting our finances right as one of those things on our to-do list. It tends to be one of those goals we never quite get to – despite the best of intentions — like organizing the garage or signing up for a class we’ve been meaning to take.


But the fact is, achieving financial well-being is more about your lifestyle choices than a one-time fix.


If you take a look at the folks who are financially happy now, you’ll probably notice some consistent behaviors that contribute to their contentment.  Following their examples won’t solve all of your financial difficulties, but it can put you in a better place.


Here are 10 of the things financially happy people do.


1. They stick to a budget.  Sure, it’s tempting to buy what we want, when we want it, especially when life gets stressful.  But this practice only contributes to more stress down the road.  In the end, financial wellbeing calls for creating a budget and sticking with it so the money you need to pay your bills and avoid credit-card spending is there for you.


2. They avoid impulse purchases.  There’s nothing wrong with occasional treats or indulgences, but if they become more of the rule than the exception they can sabotage your finances.  When the temptation to impulse buy strikes, try to wait a few weeks to see if that item you wanted still seems as important to you.  If you must make an unplanned purchase, consider waiting for a sale or finding a pre-owned option.


3. They appreciate what they have.  This habit goes hand in hand with the first item.  It’s much easier to stick with your budget if you find contentment with what you have instead of focusing on the next thing you want.  Financially happy people don’t worry about the next latest and greatest car/gadget/clothing.  They place more value on financial well-being and the things in life they can’t buy like family, friends and health.


4. They don’t dwell on their bank balances.  It’s natural to worry, but it won’t change a thing. Instead of negative thoughts, consider focusing your energy on developing a plan for making more money, or saving more, and improving that balance.  And remember, your bank balance is not a reflection of your success or your value as a person.


5. They’re prepared for trouble. I’m not telling you to worry. What I am suggesting is putting at least six months of money aside so if the worst does happen – medical emergencies, a lost job, major car repairs – it won’t put you over the edge financially.  Start working toward this goal by building up your emergency fund.  I recommend setting aside a fixed amount – such as $50, $75, or even $100 – out of each paycheck.


6. They’re careful with their credit.  Financially happy people limit credit-card use to moments of necessity.  And when they do buy with credit, they pay off the balance each month whenever possible.  By doing this, they avoid nasty credit card bills, finance charges and other fees that can eat into their budgets. They also reap the rewards of high credit scores, including lower interest on credit cards and loans, higher credit limits and better car insurance rates, among others.


7. They borrow wisely.  Financially happy people approach loans with caution.  If they know they’ll need to borrow money, they do their homework so they’re not saddled with horrendous interest rates for the next few decades.  They also take the time to understand all of the terms and details of their loan.  Above all, they don’t put themselves in a bad situation by committing to payments they can’t really afford.


8. They capitalize on savings opportunities.  It can take some effort to understand them and get started, but there are some pretty good savings opportunities out there.  Employer-sponsored savings plans like the 401(k) let you combine your pre-tax dollars with company matching funds.  If you opt for a Roth IRA, you can save after-tax money and, if you meet the requirements, avoid taxes on the earnings.  Financially happy people make the most of opportunities like these and other tools out there.


9. They’ve made the time for retirement planning.  It’s tough to think about retirement when you have expenses to deal with in the here and now.  But retirement planning is the only way to make sure that you’re not only financially happy now, but you will remain in a good financial place down the road.  The sooner you start preparing, the better quality of life you’ll have as a retiree.


10 They work toward their goals step by step.  Financially happy people aren’t expecting a winning lottery ticket to come their way.  They take responsibility for reaching their goals.  This starts by taking an honest look at your financial habits, identifying the areas that you need to work on, and setting up a realistic financial plan to move you toward your goals.  You can always turn to a financial planner for help.


These habits are just a few of the things you can do to put yourself on a better financial track. Remember, it’s never too late to start adapting these habits. Financial happiness is within your reach.

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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