Creatures of habit. It is a term used to describe the natural tendencies of people based on their personal habits. For instance, if a person gets paid on Friday and is broke by the following Monday, it is most likely (but not always) due to habitually bad financial choices. Impulse purchases, excessive spending, overuse of credit cards and lack of retirement planning are all bad financial habits that often lead to a perpetual loop of fiscal stress and financial uncertainty. According to Kathleen Elkins at CNBC, there are steps you can take to recover from a history of bad financial decisions and things you can do to bolster your equity for your (and your family’s) future.

1) Automate your money.

Putting your money on an automated schedule will save you time, stress, and money, to boot. Automating your finances will put your money where it needs to go when it needs to get to where it is going with the most efficiency and the least thought. Investments, savings and expenditures are all set up to automatically to make your money work for you.

2) Create a budget and STICK TO IT!

One thing that you can do right away is create a budget and adhere to it strictly. Like any healthy lifestyle change, your instinct will be to fight it. Every time you want spend your money impulsively, focus on what that will mean for your long term versus short term happiness. Patience may not be your most prominent personality trait, but it is necessary to become a financially secure adult.

3) Save MORE than you spend.

Saving a portion of your income is also a crucial component of a well-balanced formula for a financially secure future. People put money into various forms of savings and investment accounts everyday. From piggy banks to full blown investment portfolios, the important thing isn’t necessarily where or how much money you are saving but instead that you are saving money at all. Former The Tonight Show host Jay Leno never spent the paychecks he was earning from his hosting job. That money was saved and invested. He used income from other work to live on, setting himself up to enjoy his retirement like a king. Concentrate on starting off small, and grow your savings and investments as you gain momentum with your finances.  Make sure the money you work so hard everyday for is also working hard for you.

4) Ideas to make money > Ideas on how to spend money.

Do you like to think about what your money can get you? Cars, homes and world travel perhaps? Your time and energy is better spent on cultivating ideas on how to generate money than it is on how to spend the money you don’t already have. Take your ideas to the next level and bring your dreams of fiscal independence to fruition. Everyone wonders what it would be like to win the lottery, but far fewer people think of ways to generate their own incomes in a tangible and logistical way.

All things considered, the path to financial freedom and fiscal happiness is not a straight and narrow one. There will most definitely be wrong turns, accidents and all manner of situations you cannot control. The key to getting where you want to be is focusing on your personal needs and creating measurable expectations that you can meet over a period of time. You can do it!

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