Surround yourself with constant reminders

By glblguy

Bart Simpson
Photo by: Sue Waters

When I was in college, my Dad printed off a sign that simply said “The future is now”. That simple sign, placed on the desk in my room, served as a constant reminder of why I was working so hard to get my degree. It kept me motivated, focused, and persevering during those sometimes all night coding projects and homework assignments (thanks Dad!)

When my wife and I were saving to buy a home, I kept a picture of the house we wanted hanging on my cube wall at work. Each day I would come in, that sign would remind me of why I was there and remind me of why I needed to work hard and do a great job. We purchased our first home a few months later.

Surround yourself with reminders

That first sign, given to me by my Dad not only helped me get my degree, but it also taught me a valuable lesson and technique that I still use today: Surrounding yourself with constant reminders helps you stay focused and keeps you from getting off track. The best part about this technique is that it’s incredibly easy to do and costs little to nothing yet the benefit is huge.

Right now, as I write this article I have 3 reminders directly in front of me:

  1. The desktop of this laptop is a BMW 135i. I’ve wanted a BMW for a very long time, and even though I’ll continue to want one for a while, the picture reminds me of why it’s important for me to sacrifice in the short term to gain in the long. I want a BMW and I’ll get one someday, but I just need to patient. I need to get out of debt first, then save, then I can buy it.
  2. A sticker I made sits right above my screen and says “God meant for you to be here now”. Again, simple, but a powerful reminder to me that no mater what the circumstance, no matter how hard my day is or how buried in work I am that God met for me to be right where I am doing exactly what I am doing.
  3. There are numerous pictures of my family all around me. Those pictures serve as a reminder to me that I have 6 children and a beautiful wife that depend on me, love me, and support me. What greater reminder and encouragement could there be?

Ideas for constant reminders

Here are just a few ideas you can use to help keep you constantly reminded about various things in your life, including your personal finances and goals:

  1. Signs – Like the sign my Dad made for me, printing up a simple sign with an encouraging phrase or goal printed on it can serve as a very powerful reminder. I can’t recall where I read this, but one personal finance blogger posts the total amount of their debt in various places throughout their house and updates them each time they make a payment. A debt countdown if you will.
  2. Labels – I love label makers. My hand writing is terrible and I use labels for all kinds of things so I don’t have to struggle to read my own writing. Labels can also be used as constant reminders. Have a financial goal you want to meet? Say, establishing that $1000 emergency fund? Create a label that says “Only $300 more to go” and place it on your computer, in your car, or maybe even on your debit card.
  3. Pictures – Instead of just words, try to find a picture of a goal or something else that is important to you . Trent over at the simple dollars wrapped his credit cards with a picture of his son to help him consider his purchase a little more. My 11 year old really wants a Porsche when he grows up, so I printed off a copy of a Porsche with the price listed at the bottom. Not only does this give him some perspective on how much things cost, but also reminds him to work hard in school so maybe he can get one some day (and maybe let me drive it!)
  4. Slips of paper – In the cash area of my wallet right now is a slip of paper the same size as a dollar bill. This paper contains a list of the goals my wife and I have set for our financial lives. Each time I open my wallet, that slip of paper is visible. Just seeing it in there is enough to remind me to really think through what I am purchasing. I often just open it up to read through it.
  5. Google Calendar – Add entries to Google calendar and have it email you every so often with a reminder of a goal, a picture, some inspirational quote, or scripture verse. I place various Proverbs throughout the year and have it email them to me weekly. Almost every week I forget I’ve done this and get a little surprise in my inbox.
  6. Review your budget often – One of the most powerful reminders we use is reviewing our budget weekly. It keeps our spending focused and on track. My wife and I manage our finances together, so we also serve as reminders to each other during this process of the commitment we made to follow it, and to support each other when one of us gets a little off track.

While all of these are simple little things to do, and maybe to some might even seem silly, they really work. If you are anything like me, staying on track financially is hard. Retailers work overtime to tempt us into buying their products and their tactics are very effective. Reminders like the above are just one tool to help you stay focused, avoid temptation and stay on the path to reaching your goals and dreams a little sooner.

What reminders do you use? Share you creative techniques for reminding yourself constantly by adding a comment!

22 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Surround yourself with constant reminders”

  1. Mr. Imperfect Says:

    These are all wonderful ideas. I rely heavily (like most people these days I suspect) upon my cell phone. Since I frequently turn my phone on and off for meetings and such, one thing I do is edit the start up message to remind me of a goal or thought. I see this message on average of four to five times a day-it serves as a great reminder. I have also used pictures on my cell phone and PC desktop as motivation as well. Have a great day!

  2. Nicole Says:

    “If God be for us, who can be against us?” was a little sign a mentor got for me before I went to college. It got me through some difficult times. . .

  3. Frugal Dad Says:

    A friend of mine use to have a sign on his computer monitor that read, “I know God won’t give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much!” He said it helped him keep his sense of humor when things began to pile up, and it reminded him of his faith.

    I like to keep pictures of my wife and family around to remind me why I get up and go to work every day. I am working to provide them a better future. Trent’s idea of keep a pic of his kids wrapped around the credit card is great one, too. You are basically hocking their financial future (and your own) each time you use the thing.

  4. Bettsi McComb Says:

    This is a good post. One thing that I find helpful is to change it up every once in a while too. Otherwise my little reminders become part of the background and I don’t “see” it anymore.

    Also, do you think you may have misspelled something? I think you mean to say that “God MEANT for you to be here now.” Does that sound right? Or perhaps I am misunderstanding the meaning.

    Anyway, thanks for the helpful hints. They are all great!

  5. David Carter Says:

    I liked this post. I really do believe that giving yourself a lot of reminders will help keep you inspired to work toward your goals. I will have to do some more of the items you listed right now all I do is #6 and that is only b/c I have a blog where I right about that kinda stuff.

  6. glblguy Says:

    @Bettsi – Yes should have been meant. Fortunately it’s spelled correctly on my computer screen…which is actually quit embarrassing since I can’t even spell a word correctly that’s right in front of me…LOL. You discovered my one big blogging handicap…I can’t spell worth a flip ;-)

  7. fathersez Says:

    I am total believer in reminders. I have them in the form of lists, screen savers and messages in my handphone.

    I have reminders to read affirmations….yikes, maybe I am over reminding.

    I like your reminder. Thanks

  8. Brian Says:

    Great Post!

    I’ve done this as well, and its worked so well for me. After barely failing my Microsoft exam, I was motivated to retake the exam and finally pass it.

    So after failing, I took my exam grade and put it on my desk, so that every day when while studying I could see that report card, and remember that feeling of not passing.

    This helped me work harder, and motivated me to pass next time around. I took the exam again 3 weeks ago and passed with flying colors! 98%!

    I’m also using these “reminders” to save money. Every month I look at my savings and go shopping online for a car. Then I look for cars that I can afford with my savings. Its a wonderful feeling to know that with your savings you can afford to buy something tangible, and every month its fun to see what kind of newer car you can find.

  9. Make Friends, Earn Money Says:

    For me pictures always work better, I think it’s because I like images and they stick in my memory much better. I think it’s a great motivational tool.

  10. Mrs. Micah Says:

    I like my reminders, but I could probably use more. I sometimes end up getting scared of everything and needing that boost.

  11. Crispy Says:

    One of the best “reminders” I have used is a little sticker on the lower left hand corner of my monitor reading “Is this moving you towards your goal?”. I see it every time I mouse over to the Start button – and it reminds me that my idle surfing / game playing / etc. has a negative impact on my work and personal life. Helps keep me focused!

  12. Foxie Says:

    Oh, finally, somebody with good taste in BMW’s. ;) Tell your son he could be worse… I want a Ferrari AND a Porsche… One to drive everyday (the Porsche, a Carrera 4s) and the other to have just to have and enjoy every so often (the Ferrari, a F430).

    I also keep pictures and prices of the cars in the back of my mind always. My blog helps a ton… I go there daily to see the awesome picture I’ve got of a F430 there as well as my progress on various goals. I love the motivation I get from knowing I can do it if I work really hard for it. :)

  13. Toblerone @ Simple Mom Says:

    Love all these ideas, especially #4. I think I may need to do that today. Thanks for sharing.

  14. ubonline Says:

    That’s a really good tip – not just a reminder to get out of debt, but a reminder of your positive goals (I really like the idea of putting a picture of a BMW on your desktop, think I’ll use that one).