Our finances are at the centre of many big life decisions, from choosing where we live to how long (and how far away!) to go on holiday, but they can often feel a little scary to face up to.
Building a positive attitude to money is key to nailing all parts of adulting and feeling okay about checking your bank balance will improve many areas of your life, including planning social occasions and splashing out on luxury breaks.
But where do you start? Mary MacRory, a life coach and qualified accountant, shares her tips for hitting reset on your financial mindset.
Fight the fear
Plenty of us feel a little overwhelmed by the thought of delving into money matters and even simple acts like checking your bank account be intimidating. If you struggle with this, don’t panic. MacRory recommends roping in a friend who is a financial whizz or doing research online to make it all feel a little less daunting.
“Figure out why you feel like this,” she says. “It could be because of a bad experience years ago, or it could just be that you’re nervous because you don’t understand finances. Learn about finance so you can embrace it rather than fear it and appreciate is only a means to an end. It’s just a currency really, to help you to live a better life.”
Building a positive attitude, MacRory says, will help you remember your money should enable you to do fun things rather than prohibit you.
Budget, budget, budget
It’s not exciting or glamorous but you’re going to need some sort of budget. “If you’re not really monitoring what you’re doing, of course you will be fearful when you do actually go to see what’s in your account,” says MacRory. “But if you’re prepared and in control, you’re less likely to be afraid of it and you can plan positively for the future, instead of dreading what the present might be.”
There are tonnes of ways you can do this and it’s all about finding what works for you – it could be an app, excel spreadsheet or even a good old-fashioned notepad – the main thing is facing up to where you are financially and knowing how much is going in and out of your accounts each month.
Build good habits
Developing a positive attitude will take time and behavioural change specialist Dr McKee recommends focusing on the “bite-sized” daily wins instead of panicking about the bigger picture. “The key thing we want to think about when it comes to habit change is repetition and feeling good about the change,” she explains.
Don’t beat yourself up about splurges – plan them instead
Making big purchases is a necessary (and often exhilarating!) thing to do but doing so impulsively can lead to not-so-great feelings afterwards. “I like splashing the cash,” MacRory admits. “But there’s no point doing it all the time because you just won’t have a penny and you’ll feel guilty or even fall behind with bills. It’s the cause of so much unnecessary stress.”
The easy way to avoid this is to give yourself time to mull over any big buys, research them properly and save up by putting cash to one side each month. “Once you are practising good habits, regularly save money so then you can plan to buy larger items,” she says. This will also make purchases more satisfying when you do finally click ‘buy’.
Track your progress
Your budget will do this for you but it’s worth having another place devoted to chalking up your small wins. “When we feel those feelings of progress, it spurs us on to one to engage more with our goals,” says Dr McKee. “And then incrementally over time, we can add in more once we feel like we’ve grown that willpower muscle.”
There are plenty of helpful apps and many banks have apps that include savings pots to portion off cash for individual money goals. The positive attitude you build around money can also easily be transferred to other areas of your life. Services such as Holly Health can track lifestyle changes, while the habit-focussed app Strides allows you to set goals for a whole range of things: from setting aside time for meditating to meal-planning.