Surround yourself with constant reminders
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!