Are you face tough financial times right now?
Back in 2008 I was living through some very tough financial times and even today I still have financial issues from time to time. I can remember living paycheck to paycheck and thinking to myself when are things going to get better.
Then one day I said enough is enough and I made some drastic changes. I got serious about my finances and slowly but surely I started to improve and now nearly 6 years later I can honestly say I’m getting closer to a stronger more secure financial lifestyle.
So in this article I’m going to share with you 5 tactical ways I’ve gone about improving my finances. This article isn’t going to be some motivational speech or big talk to get you to improve your finances but rather this article will be full of helpful tips and strategies you can use to get through these tough times. In fact I’ve done every one of these strategies and most of them I still do use to this day.
Finally, I also want to remind you that improvement is not instantaneous. It took me 6 years to dig out of the hole I put myself in and it may take you that long if not longer as well.
With that said let’s get started.
#1 Keep Your Mind Busy
When it comes to your mind it can play a lot of tricks on you. In fact you may not even realize these tricks until it’s already to late. A good example of this is when we have a lot of time on your hands so you just sit around your house and before you know it your thinking of all the things going wrong in your life.
You worry about all the bills you have to pay, the debts that are stacking up, and how you are going to pay them next month. This happened to my wife after we had our first child and she was off work for 12 weeks for her pregnancy leave.
At work she was able to keep herself busy and was also able to talk to various people throughout the day. The problem came when she would sit there all day long doing nothing but think about all the problems we were dealing with.
She would think about all the bills and the debts and to boot we just had our first child and things were a bit overwhelming to say the least. However the truth is things were not at bad as they seemed to be but since she had all this time her mind had nothing better to do than wonder.
What’s worse is that by not keeping your mind busy you are letting fear control you and possibly stop you from moving forward with your financial situation. Fear can control you in a lot of ways but I cover how to deal with it shortly.
I should also mention keeping your mind busy does not mean watching television or sitting of Facebook for 8 hours a day. The type of activity I’m referring to about keeping your mind busy is something that pushes you toward a more successful and prosperous financial life.
So here are a few things you can do to keep your mind busy.
Don’t Look At Your Finances
Common financial wisdom will tells us that you need to constantly review your budget and finances often in order to improve them but this just isn’t true. Sure you need to pay your bills but their is no reason you need to look at your finances every day or in most cases each week.
Doing this only keeps bringing the pain back up and stirring up more emotions which really doesn’t need to happen. Instead try to review your finances once or twice a month and that’s it. Also don’t try to analyze your finances, just pay your bills and do a quick review of your financial situation and move on.
Write Down Your Fears
Next write down your fears and address them. A fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion cause by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
More importantly fear can be caused by the things that we don’t know, on top of that fear can stop us from taking a positive forward action. To overcome your fears here is a simple 3 step process you can use.
- Write Your Fears Down. First start by writing down the fears you are dealing with. This could be your emergency fund is almost out of money or that you have a huge medical bill coming up. Whatever they are write them down.
- Describe The Worst Case Scenario. Next list out the different possible scenarios that could happen. For example if I can’t pay the medical bill the hospital might garnish my wages.
- Determine A Solution. Finally, the last step is to determine a solution to your fear. For example you could look into find a part time job or starting some sort of side hustle to make ends meet.
When you go through this three step process you’ll likely realize things may not be as bad as they always seem.
Find Something Constructive To Do
Finally, the last step is to find something constructive to help you get through those tough times. This is where I recommend you find some sort of side hustle to not only keep your mind busy but also help you improve your financial situation at the same time.
This is where getting into things like affiliate marketing or freelance writing can be a great way to earn extra income and improve your finances all at the same time.
To help you find the side hustle that is right for you I wrote this article a while back that ask you some basic questions and if you still can’t decide on the side hustle that you want to do then you can check out this list of 47 ideas I came up with.
#2 Focus On The Good Things
The next thing you can do is stay focused on the good things in your life. Often times when we are deep in debt living check to check it can be hard to stay focused on the good things because their are so many negative things going on around us.
This can be everything from your finances, to the media we consume like television and Facebook, to the people we associate with. In the end this can really complicate the problem and make it worse.
For example you may have some coworkers who you have to work with who can be very negative about things which means you have to listen to them all day long. By the end of the day it wears off on you and it can turn an even seemly great day into a negative one.
Over time this forces you to change your entire outlook on life and everything you do will never be good enough or their will always be something wrong. So in this section I’m going to share some things you can do to help you focus on the good things.
- Eliminate Negative Media. First off, eliminate any negative media such as Facebook, Television, and even the News. That might sound odd to eliminate the news but when you think about it the news is almost completely full of negative stuff. On top of that the majority of the news you consume doesn’t even apply to you so why do you need it.
- Eliminate Negative People. Next, try to eliminate negative people out of your life. Again I understand that this can be tough especially if this is a coworker or even your spouse but you can eliminate even those to an extent. For example, I have a negative coworker who complains almost for the mere fact because they just want to. To eliminate this I try not to talk to this coworker no matter what and if I do talk to them I keep it very limited and if things start to get negative I end the conversation quickly and move on.
- Focus On The Positive Outlook. Controlling the things that have influence around you are just one aspect of the problem you also need to consider yourself. For example, you don’t want to say I want to pay off all of my debt because debt in itself is a negative term. Rather you want your goal to be that you are wealthy and prosperous because this puts a positive spin on the end result you want to achieve.
- Create A Grateful List. If you find it hard to stay positive about your situation then create a grateful list. Being stuck in a negative situation can be hard to break free from but creating a grateful list it allows you to open up to all the good things in life. So what could you put on this list, anything positive. On the most basic level you could say that you are alive, you could say you have a roof over your head, and food to eat. Once you have this list together keep it in a place where it can remind you when a negative situation happens again.
- Focus Creates Your Reality. Finally, understand that whatever you spend the most time focusing on will become the reality you live. So if you constantly say to yourself I need to pay off this debt then you will continue to be in debt. Even though you want to be debt free it reinforces in your mind that you are in debt and that you will never get out of debt. As I mentioned earlier you need to focus on the positive version of your reality not the negative.
#3 Put A Solid Plan Of Action Together
The next step is to create a solid plan of action that will keep you moving forward. Here’s a great quote that you may or may not have heard at one point or another.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Without a solid plan of action you won’t have any direction to guide you. This is the point where you need to decide on exactly what you want to do. You also need to decide on the vehicle you want to help you get there.
In almost every case you will need a budget and plan to pay off your debt but you will also need some sort of way to generate extra money and the vehicle I recommend is some sort of side hustle to help you earn this extra money.
Depending on your situation and what you like to do their could be a several opportunities for to help you earn this extra income. To help you out just check out this article where I list 47 ideas. From here follow the steps I have listed below.
- Decide What Your End Goal Is. Your first step is to determine your end goal. Like I mentioned earlier it needs to be something positive, specific, and measurable. For example saying you want to be rich is not good enough. On the other hand saying you want to earn $6000 by the end of next year makes it a little more direct.
- Break Bigger Goals Down Into Smaller Goals. From here you want to break your big goal into smaller more attainable goals. For example, you may decide you need to pay off your credit card debt, and put a budget together, and pick some sort of side hustle to help earn extra income.
- Break Smaller Goals Down Into 20 Minute Task. Once you have your smaller goals you need to break them into down into 20 minute achievable goals. For example, if you’re smaller goal is to find a side hustle then one 20 minute goal might be to list out all the ideas you are interested in, another task might be to research each individual idea. So break your goals down into small achievable task.
- Take Action Immediately. Finally, the last step is take action immediately. As the quote says you make the iron hot by striking right away and the sooner you do this the sooner you will start to work towards your goals.
#4 Start A Progress Chain
Now that you have your plan together and you’ve begun to take action or maybe your getting ready to take action you need to start and more importantly take action consistently. However one thing I’ve learned when it comes to starting anything is that starting is the hardest part.
Once you get started you’ve completed the hardest part of achieving your goals. Once you get started you need to hold yourself to achieving your goals and this can also be a big challenge because motivation to keep moving will only work so long.
So in the section below I’m going share what I do to stay committed and keep moving forward.
- Start A Progress Chain. The first thing you’ll want to do is start a progress chain. A progress chain is nothing more task that you complete on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. The goal with a progress chain is see how long you can keep things going without breaking the chain. For example I have a daily writing goal as a part of my progress chain and I’ve been very successful at keeping it going for several weeks now.
- Use Lift.do To Keep You Accountable. Another thing you can do to help you stay committed is to you can use an app such as Lift.do . What’s great about this app is that it can track your progress and keep you on track with your habits and goals. On top of that it allows you to support others and others to support you with your goals. You can also add this app to your smartphone if you have one as well.
- Focus On 1 Task Or Habit At A Time. Next when it comes to accomplishing your task and building these new habits one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t want to do more than one thing at a time. By focusing on to much stuff at once you will more than likely get frustrated and overwhelmed. This why you want to focus on one thing and one thing only.
- Enjoy The Journey. Finally once you’ve started to put your plan in action you need to remember to enjoy the journey. Often times we think that we can’t be happy until we pay off all of our debt, or until you’ve earned a certain amount of money but then what. The point is to enjoy the journey here and now. If you believe happiness is a horizon in the future you will never find it. Rather take time to enjoy what you have now and keep pushing forward.
#5 Find Support
Finally the last and final part to getting through tough financial times is to find support. It’s in our darkest moments when we think we’ve been defeated and it’s at this point when a support system can keep us moving forward.
I recently started my own support group with another person to help me stay focused and moving forward in my business and I can honestly say it’s helped a lot. In fact most of the successful people I know all have some sort of support group.
In my group we talk about our successes and failures and what we are doing to improve ourselves and go to that next level. If nothing more it at least helps us find comfort in the fact that we don’t have to go at things alone.
Below are a few different support groups you may want to consider.
The first is a mastermind group which is a group of people who are at a similar level facing roughly the same situation. Typical mastermind groups have anywhere from 2 to 5 people in them and meet typically every week in not every 2 weeks via Skype, Google Hangouts, or even on the phone.
The key to starting a mastermind group is to find the right people. You can try a lot of different places like social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, or even by leaving a comment at the end of this post that you are looking for a mastermind group to join.
Once you’ve established your group set guidelines to help you stay on track. Below is a typical schedule for a mastermind group.
- Open The Group Meeting (5 minutes). At first when the group meeting is just getting started we might have a little chit chat to break the ice but once everyone is on the call we move directly into the next step.
- Share How Your Week Went (10 minutes). From here we all take time to share how our week went and what we accomplished and the goals that we hit. This can usually be pretty motivating.
- The Hot Seat. (30 minutes). From here one person will take the hot seat for the week discussing a particular problem they might be having and people take turns offering suggestions and feedback on how they could overcome the issue.
- Decide On Your Goals (15 minutes). From here everyone takes time share what their goals are for the week and what they plan to do.
- End The Call. Finally once everyone has had the chance to talk we end the call which last right around an hour.
So if starting a mastermind is something you want to leave a comment at the end of this post and maybe someone may respond to your request to help you start your own mastermind group.
Find A Mentor
Another way to find support is to hire a mentor. Mentors are people who have already accomplished what you want to accomplish and they can show you how to side step things and hit your goals much faster than if you were to do everything yourself.
The truth is you can find all the information you need to solve most of your problems right on the internet but a mentor will save you all the time and hassle. So how do you go about finding a mentor?
The best way to do this is to do the research online. I recently had the opportunity to join a mentor-ship program but I declined for one very important reason, cost.
Mentors can be a bit pricey but well worth the money. The program I was looking at joining ran around $2000 to $5000 for a 6 month course. However if I would spend the $5000 to learn a very specific skill it could save me years of research and fumbling around and help me achieve my goals much faster.
Which One Should You Join?
So which one should you join a mastermind group or a mentor-ship? My suggestion would be both if you can afford it. However if you can’t afford it I suggest you at the very least look for some sort of mastermind group you can join.
One Final Thing You Should Know
Finally, as I wrap this article up you should know a few things that are very important to understand. First, you have to understand that you are going to fail at some point. In fact failing is part of the journey to success and that almost everyone who has ever been successful has failed at one point or another.
However just because you might fail doesn’t mean you are a quitter, it just means you need to try again. When it comes to quitters they just give up because of something didn’t go as planned and the truth is nothing will every always go as planned.
You need to be aware that unexpected things are going to come up and that it doesn’t mean you weren’t meant to succeed it just means you need to try again.
You also need to realize that you will have to make this journey yourself and that no one else is going to do it for you. No one is going to make this happen for you and the sooner you can understand that the sooner you will take control of your own situation and move forward.
So are you ready to get through the tough times and move forward with your life? Then let’s take that first step now.
Hey Chris read your article and was inspired. Question. how are you doing, two years later?
Hi Darrell, sorry for the late reply. Things were tough this year financially, but as tough as things were I’m seeing some improvements. Saving money has gotten better. I’m glad my article has inspired you. Thanks for reading.