How to Stick to Your Budget Using Micro-Actions
Face it: it’s hard to get motivated to conquer your finances when you know it might mean creating and then sticking to a budget. If this sounds like a lot of work, you’re not alone.
In a survey conducted with The Harris Poll, we found that despite the fact Americans feel consistently busy, 73% reported that time isn’t the issue when it comes to getting and staying financially fit. Instead, the problem is psychological.
The truth is most people simply can’t bring themselves to deal with their money head-on. Their finances make them stressed out, they procrastinate, and they wind up sticking their heads in the sand instead of sticking to a budget.
But one simple change—a micro-action—might be all you need to supercharge your financial motivation and help you make real progress toward your money goals.
What are micro-actions?
Micro-actions are tiny, non-intimidating tasks that are super quick to complete. We’re talking one minute to 20 minutes at the absolute max.
What makes micro-actions so powerful?
First, they are contagious. The simple fact that you’re taking steps—even if they’re tiny ones—toward a goal means you’re making steady progress.
Second, you’re building major confidence. Success breeds success. As you conquer one micro-action after another, you begin to see what you’ve achieved, realize your goals are attainable, and create the momentum you need to keep going.
How can micro-actions help you stick to your budget?
So how can the idea of micro-actions benefit you when it comes to your money? Try these three ideas on for size:
1. Add micro-actions to your regular routine
The beauty of a routine is that it requires zero thought to execute. And you don’t need a brand-new, complicated routine to start working toward financial health. Instead, simply incorporate one or two micro-actions into the routine you already have:
- Listen to an inspiring podcast or educational audio book about money while commuting to work or driving the kids to school.
- Drop bills directly into a box by the door whenever you grab the day’s mail. (You won’t have to play hide and seek with statements when you’re ready to pay them.)
- Repeat a money mantra while walking your dog. Use your own or borrow one that works for the wealthy.
2. Make your money micro-actions fun
Many people find money management either mind-numbingly dull or intensely stressful. If that’s you, consider making your money micro-action a fun exercise, a game, or even a contest for your family:
- Set a 5-minute timer and brainstorm as many free (or nearly free) fun activities as you can. Try this exercise with your kids for an upcoming birthday, the holiday season, or a weekend together.
- Enlist your kids’ help—and their art supplies—in creating a paper chain. Add a link for every $50 of debt you carry. When you pay off 50 bucks, rip off that link and know you’re shrinking your debt.
- Download a money gamification app that transforms saving into entertainment. Try Qapital1 for making fun “rules” around stashing cash. Or look into SmartyPig1 to create a virtual piggy bank.
3. Go with what you know
When people talk about money, it can certainly sound as though they’re speaking a foreign language. Instead of trying to give yourself a crash-course in financial lingo, play to your strengths and customize your money micro-actions to how you already do your life:
- Have you ever had a professional mentor? Take advantage of your willingness to listen, learn, and support. Seek out a money mentor with wisdom to share. Or check in weekly with a friend who’s tackling similar financial goals.
- Do you use a chore chart for your kids with gold stars for a job well done? Whip up one of those calendars for yourself! Add a big gold star for every day you complete a money micro-action.
- Where do you dump your pocket change at the end of the day? Instead of tossing it on a table, start collecting it in a jar. Or up your game and throw all your singles into the jar too. Before you know it, you’ll have a container full of cash to save or spend toward a goal.
With a few of these micro-actions up your sleeve, you can maximize your financial motivation and reach your money goals sooner than you think.