I have the same two New Year’s resolutions for 2013 as everyone else: losing weight and shedding debt. I’m resolved to achieve both by focusing on the long-term benefits I will achieve.
I know that sounds simple. But I motivate myself to achieve my goals by visualizing success.
For example, I think about how much better I will look and feel if I can lose 10 to 12 pounds. As I think about this goal day in and day out, it helps me eat the right foods and exercise more; soon enough, I begin to lose weight.
The same process works for achieving my financial goals. Even though I’ve owned my home for only five years, my new goal is to pay off my mortgage within 10 years. For motivation, I think about the benefits of being debt free and having all of that extra money. Once I achieve this goal, I will have the freedom from debt and new investment opportunities for all of that extra capital.
When I visualize these possible scenarios, it motivates me to cut back my spending even more and do whatever I can to reach this goal.
For example, once I pay off my mortgage, I want to purchase a second home. I was on vacation at Hilton Head Island, S.C., recently and spent time with my realtor looking at homes for sale. There are some good deals available on foreclosed property that will make a good investment, in addition to providing a permanent vacation home for my daughter and me.
The dream of purchasing this property has spurred me into action.
I started by cutting out my long-distance telephone service for my home phone. Next, I organized all of the receipts for day care and medical expenses, which are eligible for reimbursement as part of my employer’s flexible spending plan.
I spend more than $3,000 annually on day care and I submitted more than $800 in medical expenses. When I get reimbursed for these expenses, I will use this money to make extra payments on my mortgage and other debt.
Next, I’ve started to organize all of my expenses and deductions for my federal and state income tax filings. Like many people, I usually receive a sizable refund, and this money, too, will be used to make additional payments on my mortgage.
Do you see what is happening? I’m making progress toward my goal, and it’s so much easier because I get up every day thinking about the benefits of paying off that mortgage, becoming debt free and having the capital available to increase my wealth and improve my life.
If you haven’t already done so, write down one financial goal for 2013 and envision what it will be like if you can achieve that goal. Next, put a plan in place that includes a timetable with a focus on ways to reduce your spending and increase your savings. Most important, determine what actions you will take that will motivate you to achieve your goal.