”Permanent results only come from permanent changes.” – Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Recently I watched a documentary called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. It was an aptly named movie which documented the journey of an Australian called Joe Cross, who was, literally, fat, sick and nearly dead due to a combination of poor eating habits, lack of exercise and an autoimmune condition that caused a body rash for which he took a lot of medications. Sick of his situation, Joe decided to make a drastic change, and (while travelling across the US) went on a 60 day juice cleanse, which helped him lose more than 90lbs, cleared up his condition, and gave him a new lease on life. Along the way, Joe met a trucker with the same autoimmune condition who weighed more than 400lbs. He asked Joe to help him kick-start his journey to better health, through juicing and exercise and as a result dropped over 200lbs. Doctors monitored both men closely and over the course of the fast their blood pressure/cholesterol values improved dramatically and their detrimental health conditions disappeared.
After watching the documentary, not only was I inspired to make some changes to my own eating habits but the whole concept of “re-booting” your body through taking a break from unhealthy habits in order to develop healthier ones got me thinking about whether the same concept could be applied to finances. Here’s my formula for a money re-boot:
Know Your “Why”
Joe decided to embark on his juice fast because he was tired of his situation, tired of taking medication and he knew that, unless he made changes, his health would continue to deteriorate. Whether your financial health is in a critical state or just mildly out of sync, taking the time to identify why you want to make a change is an important component of success. Your “why” is usually an emotional motivator and it can be far more powerful than logic when it comes to keeping you from getting off track during your money re-boot. Think about how you will feel when you reach your goal; going back to that feeling is what will keep you moving in the right direction when you’re tempted to stop.
Make a Plan
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying “failing to plan is planning to fail” and this is true for almost every situation in life. Planning for re-booting our diet means deciding how long it will last and planning ahead so that we have what we need for each meal. Planning for a money re-boot means setting a time frame, knowing which bills, expenses, savings commitments etc. we have coming up and putting a plan in place to make sure all of them are paid on time. Whether you set up bill payments ahead of time via online banking, add reminder alerts to your phone or put sticky notes on the fridge doesn’t matter. It’s having the plan that counts.
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When it comes to deciding how long your money re-boot should be, remember that it takes 28 days to create/change a habit so 4-6 weeks is a good time-frame.
Get Rid of Temptation
Having junk food in your cupboards is a surefire way to risk sabotaging your best intentions. Having email offers appearing in your inbox daily is just the same kind of temptation. Human beings are hard-wired for pleasure and we are impulsive about seizing it. Anything that tempts you to spend needs to be re-directed during your re-boot to help you resist the lure of great deals, discounts and limited time offers. If sending all those emails to a special folder and putting your credit cards in a bag of water and freezing them is what you need to do to resist spending then go for it! The less temptation that crosses your path, the easier your re-boot will be.
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Whatever your goals for your money re-boot, there’s a good chance that spending less would help you achieve them. The re-boot is a time to ditch the bad habits (like wandering through your favourite store when you have time to kill, or surfing online shopping sites when you’re sitting at the computer, or that daily trip through the drive through or out for lunch) and to get used to a simpler way of spending money on what you truly need rather than buying everything you want. It’s about giving yourself a spending break so that you have time to figure out what you actually want to spend money on and what's just habitual spending that’s keeping you from your goals and from achieving better financial health.
Making changes can be uncomfortable, not just for you but for those around you too. Some people may admire your goals and your plans but some may be less than supportive because your drive to change makes them feel badly about not wanting to change their own situation. It’s important to find people who will support you during your re-boot and also to find people who want to make changes with you. That way you have support, encouragement and people to celebrate with as you work your way through your re-boot.
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Once Joe’s re-boot was over, he continued on with his new healthier diet and exercise habits and his health continued to improve. Similarly, once the money re-boot is over we need to keep working on our leaner, cleaner spending style in order to keep moving towards our goals and improving our overall financial health. The money re-boot is designed to give us a spending break and allow us to re-think and redefine our financial goals and the habits that we need to adopt in order to achieve them. Why not try it for the next few weeks and see if it gives your financial health a boost?