Can you believe it’s already October? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions or vision board post about achieving a financial goal? If you just cringed at that question, chances are you’ve gone off track. If you are on track—kudos to you! 

One of the top statements I hear in regards to a person getting their finances back on track is: I have so much going on…I don’t know where to start. Many people feel like they’re on a hamster wheel, just spinning round and round and not going anywhere. Hopefully, the tips in this article will get you off of the hamster wheel!

My Own Hamster Wheel

In college, I had a “hooptie” so I always had monthly car repair expenses. In order to get to work, I had to get the repairs done. If I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. The income I was making didn’t allow for me to save for another car and make needed repairs. But the job I had was very flexible and worked around my college courses. I felt trapped; it was like a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get out of.

Whenever I saved the money for the upcoming semester’s book cost, I would have a car repair or some other unforeseen expense. The burden would wipe out my savings or end up going on my credit card. The cycle continued until I reached $4,000 of debt. I explored my options to get off this never-ending hamster wheel. I realized that if I asked for help, I could catch a ride with a friend to work. I decided to forgo my car for a few months to pay off my debt and save for a new car. It wasn’t an easy choice, but I had to make a sacrifice to get off of the hamster wheel.

Your Turn

What is keeping you on a hamster wheel? I encourage you to journal or ride in silence on the next car ride to figure out what is keeping you on the hamster wheel. I will throw out some probes:

Scenario 1: I don’t make enough money to cover my bills. There is nothing else I could possibly cut back on to balance my budget. 

TIP: Listen to this podcast discussing strategic ways to negotiate a raise.

Scenario 2: I spend so much money dining out because I don’t have time to cook. Have you considered meal prepping on a particular weekend day?

Scenario 3My credit score is preventing me from reaching my financial goals! 

TIP: Click here to get tips to improve your score today.

Scenario 4: Online shopping gets me every time. It’s so easy to hit “Proceed to Checkout.”What void are you trying to fill with buying all this stuff?

After identifying the item that’s keeping you on the hamster wheel, think about the sacrifice you need to make to get off of it. For example, I knew that if I rode with a friend, for 3 – 4 months to work I would have enough savings to buy a car. It was easier to swallow the sacrifice when the length of time was known.

Whatever is keeping you on the hamster wheel, create a doable plan to get off. Use these tips and tools I shared to start getting back on track to reaching your financial goals. You can do it!

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