Working toward big financial goals, like buying a house or paying off your student loans, can take a really long time. No matter how much we wish we could just wave a magic wand and meet our goals, the reality is that sometimes money is a long game.
I recently interviewed my colleague for my podcast about how she was able to pay off over $80,000 of student loan debt and she said something that struck me. She said, "Debt fatigue is a real thing." In other words, you can lose steam and motivation when trying to pay off debt.
This got me thinking: If debt fatigue is real, then general financial fatigue must be real too. How do we stay motivated while working toward big financial goals when frustration rears its ugly head?
Allow for flexibility in your budget.
For me, financial fatigue usually shows up when I'm being too strict with myself. I'll try to stick to a perfect budget with a perfect savings plan only to blow it all. (Hence, I no longer do budgets.)
I realized the only way I would stick to my goal of saving $500 a month for my own place was if I allowed myself wiggle room elsewhere in my budget. So, I decided I would make a savings account that was specifically dedicated to doing whatever I want. If I want to put it toward a financial goal, I save it somewhere else at the end of the month. If I want to spend it, I spend it guilt free.
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Make sure your financial goals are aligned with your values.
Sometimes, our financial goals may not necessarily be in line with our values. For example, some people buy a house because they think they are supposed to, not because they actually want to. What they'd rather do is become a digital nomad and see the world, not stay in one place and pay a mortgage.
When our goals aren't in alignment with our values, it becomes difficult to stick with them because we don't actually want what we're working toward. That's why it's important to figure out what you really want and why.
The "why" part is the real key here. If you can't answer why you really want something, then you may not actually want it. By the way, "I want it because I'm supposed to want it" or "I want it because so and so said it was a good idea" are not valid answers. You have to want financial goals for yourself, not because you're being influenced by others.
While financial fatigue is real, it's important to note that there are ways to deal with it. Life is meant to be lived, so we need to allow for flexibility. Additionally, we need to make sure we actually want the goals we're working toward. By doing these two things, we'll be able to stay motivated.