3 tips for developing financial discipline

‘Self-discipline’ is a term whipped around by fitness experts, nutritionists, fashion addicts, technoheads and everyone in between. We all lack self-control occasionally, conquering particular aspects of our lives, basking in our accomplishment and rightly so, though we often neglect an essential lifestyle driver.

Financial discipline sounds a bit terrifying, conjuring images of burly bankers in pin-striped suits, twirling their moustaches while demanding another credit card payment in a booming voice. If you’re visualising this image or figures like it, you might be harbouring a drop or two of finance guilt. Instead of locking yourself away and dodging debt collectors, financial acumen can be developed and toned until it becomes almost like a personality trait. Do you have what it takes?

Consolidate debt

Just about everyone has a form debt. Credit cards, personal loans, business loans, mortgages and car finance, our lives – and pay packets – are often guided by our debt levels, ebbing and flowing according to how steady we’ve been with our repayments. Keeping up with it all, especially if you’ve got a number of debts, can be tiring and expensive – you may be paying a premium per month, but does it ever feel like you’re just staving off a flow of abusive calls by taking care of the interest? Contact a debt specialist and get a handle on your debt levels – your financial health will improve significantly, even if a little initial bloodletting is necessary.

Review your budget and be honest

Honesty is the best policy, though it seems to be the most challenging component of drawing up a personal or household budget. Two columns, money in, money out. Are you spending more than you’re earning or barely making ends meet? Make some cuts. What do we mean?

Instead of buying lunch every day, take a packed meal and save between £25 – £50 per week; trade expensive five star dinners for experimental pop up restaurants or even start a dinner party club with friends where each of you takes turns to host dinner at home. Ditch the gym and start running or cycling in the great outdoors. Slashing costs doesn’t have to be a monumental social sacrifice, it just requires a little creative thought.

Think before you leap

Do you really need a new phone? What is driving your desire for the latest and greatest upgrades, running over a clockwork period of six months? Upgrades are not required to have a meaningful technological, social or entertainment experience; marketing, while cunning and clever, is designed to suck you in, soul and all, and pump your wallet dry. Getting the latest phone every time just because it has one new additional feature just isn’t worth it. As long as you have the latest operating system on your smartphone, your phone can last 2 to 3 years. The same goes for a new dress or pair of shoes, jauntily perched in the window, positioned for maximum conversion. The Western world consumes so much without thinking about where it ends up after we upgrade to the latest iPhone or choose to buy ethically made clothing (durable clothing at that) to flimsy snap up sales that may not cost a lot once in a while, but really make an impact on your savings when you can’t walk past more than twice a week.

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