Now that the 2012 Summer Olympics have ended many athletes will return to their countries and continue to do what’s necessary to return in four years. That is to train. That is what many people forget, these athletes train for years to become Olympians. It didn’t happen overnight. Few goals are achieved without encountering some challenges, working hard and overcoming those challenges. It is no different when you are working towards your finances. What is it that you want to achieve when you are looking at your financial situation?
Track and Field
Many people view their finances as a sprint when they should be looking at it as a marathon. You must have endurance and be able to weather the many obstacles that you may encounter along the way. You must know where you are going. That is why it is so important to set financial goals. Are you hoping to build up your retirement account? To travel? Write down on a piece of paper your short-term (under 1 year), midterm (1-5 years) and long-term (over 5 years) goals. Be as specific as possible. Maybe attach a picture. Put that paper somewhere you can see it, such as in your wallet or on your refrigerator. This will serve as a constant reminder to continue working to achieve that goal.
There is nothing more painful than getting punched and knocked down and having to get up again. But sometimes that’s how life feels. You must do, as the saying goes, “roll with the punches”. In order to do this you need to anticipate them coming. That is why it is important to have a spending plan in place. An effective plan accounts for every dollar coming into your household being allotted to a certain expense or to savings. Establish a weekly routine where you are sitting down and looking at the week ahead. What bills are due? What is your schedule and how will your meals fit into that schedule? What repairs might be needed? By asking these types of questions, you will see the punches coming and be able to establish a strategy to keep them from knocking you down.
If you have ever watched this event, teamwork is essential in achieving the final result. View your finances the same way. Surround yourself with trusted advisors that can guide you to positive financial outcomes. Do your research about a person or company before sharing any of your monetary information. Be especially careful if they are asking you for money in order to work with you. Enlist the help of your friends. You can all work together to find the best discounts or offer each other encouragement and support. For example, suggesting going to the park instead of the mall.
Ever feel like you are free falling out of control and don’t know which way is up? Surely, that’s how a diver feels when they are beginning to learn the sport. But you don’t have to feel that way. You must have a plan to ensure that you arrive to where you want to be without creating a big splash. One of the things that might be free falling is your credit score. Things in life happen – job loss, medical issues, divorce – that could have jeopardized your good credit standing. However, all is not lost. The good thing about your credit score is that what you do today has more impact on the score than what has happened in the past. So if you pay your bills on time and focus on reducing your debt, your score will increase over time. There are also many financial institutions that offer credit-rebuilding loans that can help you achieve your goals.
An Olympic athlete has a chance to win a gold medal only every four years. The opportunity for you to take the gold, your financial gold, is within your reach. Establish your short term, mid-term and long term goals. Create a spending plan and develop a routine to examine upcoming financial challenges. Enlist the help of your friends to offer each other encouragement and support. Finally, work on rebuilding or maintaining your credit score and you too can feel like an Olympian.
Jana Castanon is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Apprisen. Apprisen is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.