We all have money and use it in various ways. I don’t believe anyone would deliberately waste his or her money. To be disciplined is to train oneself to obey rules or codes of behaviour. To discipline yourself is to CONSISTENTLY behave in a certain manner or do certain things to achieve a certain goal. We all know that athletes train themselves to achieve the goal of winning medals and being the best at what they do.
To be disciplined in any aspect of our lives, we must have a goal that is the benchmark for what we want to achieve. Financial Discipline means training yourself or deciding to manage your money, spending or savings towards achieving a specific financial target. How do we achieve financial discipline?
- HAVE A GOAL: You cannot be financially disciplined without a financial plan. There must be something that you want to achieve. For instance, you want to buy a new microwave, car, go on a holiday or save for your children’s education. There must be something that you want to see happen as a result of your financial discipline. You should have short term goals (going out to the cinema one a quarter), mid-term goals (putting money away for a retreat) and long -term goals (putting money aside for children’s education or down payment for a house). We need goals which will guide us like a map, something that you are working towards achieving. You can see it in your mind’s eye and it takes you to where you eventually want to be or what you want to do. Gool setting is very important to financial discipline.
- BOOST YOUR DISCIPLINE: You must put structures in place to boost your discipline. What do I mean? Something that will ginger your discipline. The money that you need for that holiday will not suddenly appear, you will have to do something. One of my financial boosters is to transfer money from one account to another which I do not use regularly. It has no bank card and for me it’s a forgotten account. You may join a thrift group with your friends where you make specific agreed monthly contributions depending on your capacity.
- TRACK YOUR MONEY: Know where your money goes on a daily basis. Check your online bank balance daily. Some people just look at the statement without seeing what is happening because they do not pay attention to details. Some deductions and charges could be duplicated or simply taken in error. Know the dates when your direct debits are due on a weekly and monthly basis and who the beneficiaries are.
- RESIST IMPULSIVE PURCHASE: Buy only what you have listed on your shopping list. For instance, I have a shopping list all the time and have disciplined myself to buy what I have on that list. That is not to say I do not sometimes buy what is not on my list. Train yourself to buy what you have on the list and resist impulsive purchases which will derail your overall financial goals. You end up spending more than you can afford. You just cannot buy because its looks good.
- SAVE REGUALARLY: This is another way to discipline yourself financially. It could be any amount depending on your capacity. Take note that the seemingly “small” amount will add up with time. You can just see it as another monthly bill you must pay especially when tempted to spend it. You will need it for emergencies as we will all have them in our lives because we usually have fixed income.
- DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN WANT & NEED: We usually find ourselves caught between deciding whether to spend our money on what we WANT or NEED. A “NEED” is essential to your existence while a “WANT” is something that we desire to have BUT can do without in the short term. They usually fan our egos. You may need a jumper in the weather as opposed to going out and having a meal with your friend during the pandemic. It is very important for you to weigh your options because reaching your financial goal requires discipline.
- AVOID PEER PRESSURE: This is one factor that can affect your financial discipline either positively or negatively. The saying goes that “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”. If you are easily influenced by other people, the likelihood is that you will not be able to make decisions about your finances. The desire to belong and always wanting to have the latest things because your friends have them can derail your financial goals as you. Be yourself, maintain your lane and stop competing with others. This can cause a lot of financial strain on you and you lose financial focus.
It is very important that you maintain financial discipline if you want to achieve your financial goals. There will always be a financial emergency but we can reduce the impact if we are financially disciplined. You must train yourself to abide by the financial rules that you have drawn up to achieve your financial goals.