How to Make Better Money Decisions

Our relationship status with money is complicated. There are ups and downs, trials and tribulations, but ultimately it’s our set own decisions that either make or break the partnership we have with our wallet.

If you feel like you need to start making better money decisions, the good news is that you can! With a few calibrations to how you think about your money, you can leave those regretful money decisions behind.

Here are six decision-making tips you can implement today to help make better money decisions.

Remember your goals.

A key to successful goal-setting is being specific Having a goal to ‘save more’ is too vague. In contrast, having a goal to ‘ save $5,000 to save up for a new house this year’  gives you both a concrete number to work towards and timeline. Each time you open your wallet to spend money, you’ll be more likely to remember that you’re working towards a bigger, long-term goal vs. spending in that moment. Goals help keep you engaged over a long period of time, and they give you something concrete to work towards.  

Remove yourself from the situation.

Money is deeply personal, and sometimes we get in our own way when it comes to financial decisions. Studies have shown that thinking about our own situations as if you were in someone else’s shoes helps people to make wiser decisions. So take a step back. Try and assess your situation with an outsider’s point of view. Using this technique will give your brain a chance to view the situation from different angles that may not have considered. 

Be present.

Making better money decisions is often an exercise of presence.  Don’t let past decisions influence the decisions you are making with your money today. A common trap known as sunk cost fallacy is often to blame for this backward-looking decision making. For example, let’s say you bought tickets to a concert but aren’t feeling 100% well. You still want to go to the concert because you perceive not going as a “waste of money.” The reality is that the money is already spent and you are probably better off resting and saving the $30 dollars you would have spent at the show. Past expenditures tend to cloud our judgment so simply being more present and aware of this of this behavior can help you make more rational decisions in the future.

Know your spending triggers.

We all have spending triggers. A spending trigger is something that causes you to deviate from your budget and overspend. It can be emotional or physical. A few years ago I used to drive past a Burger King on my way home from work. Seeing the sign set off an alarm in my brain that said ‘milkshake time.’ I must have spent $100 on milkshakes over a few months before I got myself together. Identifying your spending triggers can help you gain control over them, and in turn, make better money decisions. If you know that those Burger King signs make you crave a milkshake, you can avoid it by taking a different route home.

Go with a bank you love.

I had a bank account for five years with a bank I couldn’t stand. They were unresponsive, they charged outrageous fees, and they were invested in companies that ran against my beliefs. It was a bad match and it made managing my money a chore. After years of trying to justify my banking choice, I finally realized that there is no reason that shouldn’t love my bank. After all, banks are entrusted with our financial future.

Having a bank that is aligned with your best interests can fundamentally change how you feel about managing your money. The good news is that there are bank accounts, including Chime, that never charge you unnecessary bank fees and provides a banking experience that’s designed to make managing and saving money easy. These new online banks also offer unique features that most big banks do not offer, such as financial automation, that can help you save money without even thinking about it. 

Never stop learning.

You don’t have to go it alone. There are millions of money articles, tools, and experts out there for you to access. Tap into this network and find the resources that you need. When I got serious about paying off my student loan debt, the very first thing I did was search ‘how to pay off student loans.’ I felt lost, and a simple Google search sent me down a path to financial literacy.

Personal finance blogs are a great resource. They are written by real people sharing their experience conquering money problems which I’ve always found helpful. Here are resources that helped me:

StudentLoanHere.com is a great place for help with student loan debt.

BravelyGo.co is a company that helps connect women and money.

OurNextLife.com is a blog that talks about pursuing early retirement.

DearDebt.com is a blog about paying off debt that emphasizes community and mental health.

Making better money decisions is well within your reach. Remember, money is simply a tool. You can learn to use it in the exact same way you’d learn a new language. With the right help, there’s no money issue that you can’t conquer.

Tell us, what’s the money issue that you’ve started making better decisions about?

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