How to be successful in financial discipline

How to be successful in financial discipline
Published: 02 August 2017
Given we are left with four months to year end, are you on target to achieve your financial targets.

What went wrong and how can you correct it? It all boils down to financial discipline. Financial discipline is about controlling your spending and making sure you pay for the things that need to be paid.

The hardest part for most people is controlling their spending. If you cannot control your spending then no matter how much money you make it will never be enough.

Our wants will always be able to expend whatever income we acquire. Thus, controlling spending is a necessity for everyone.

It is being able to say no to purchases you normally make on a whim. These impulse purchases are the primary contributors to people not following their budget.

You can set aside an amount for impulse purchases but then make sure you do not exceed that amount on a monthly basis.

Those who do not have discipline must acquire it the hard way. Acquiring it comes from learning to practice it in small amounts.

Start by simply trying to follow your budget. Once you can do this then the next step is to be able to save money.

Saving money requires that you say no to yourself when you have the urge to spend it. We often think we "must" when in truth there is no urgency other than that which we have created in our mind to justify something.

The starting point of financial discipline is the ability to restrain yourself through coming up with a budget and strictly adhering to it.

This is important because failure to adhere to your budget shows lack of discipline just like someone breaking his or her own rules.

A solid financial budget heralds the success of any financial plan. After planning out your budget, you are more likely to make timely bill payments, save up cash for big-ticket items and put money aside to purchase investments.

For motivation to stay the course, your financial budget should begin with goal setting. From there, you can put together a budget that preserves enough cash flow to meet your goals.

A budget allows you to tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it all went.

Without this basic financial tool in place, you will not be able to maximise the money you have worked so diligently to earn.

One of the greatest benefits of budgeting is being able to stop the morning routine of checking your bank account balance!

You should prepare a budget every month, and it should be completed before the month actually begins.

This systematic approach will allow you to review your financial performance over the previous month and make any adjustments necessary for the upcoming one.

This will allow you to eliminate a lot of insanity from your life simply by preparing and living by a budget.

By preparing your budget before the month begins, it will provide you an opportunity to recognise upcoming financial challenges and implement steps to address each one.

For example, suppose your budget revealed a gap of $150 in the approaching month.

Because you prepared a budget before the month began, it provides you the opportunity to eliminate that amount of expenses in the budget or devise a way to produce an extra income to cover that shortfall or both.

However, if you encountered this scenario without a budget, when would you discover the $150 gap?

That's right. When your money ran out! This would leave you with little option beyond putting the extras on a credit card borrowing from colleagues or using overdraft if you are allowed one by your bank.

You can eliminate a lot of insanity from your life simply by preparing and living by a budget.

As you approach the end of each month, follow these two simple steps: Firstly review your budget for the month you are completing i.e. what went well?

What surprises did you encounter? What do you need to adjust for upcoming months?

Secondly, update your budget for the approaching month i.e. what items need to be included in this budget?

Do you need to make any changes to existing budget expenses?

Remember it is important to prepare your budget before the beginning of the month. One important thing to consider is that discipline is a skill and can be learnt just like anything else. Another corollary to this is that spending is a habit too.

Thus a key part of financial success is learning the skill of discipline and breaking the habit of spending.

When you are able to accomplish both of these objectives then you will be well on your way to financial solvency and a well-managed portfolio. So how does one go about learning these skills? You simply learn by trying but there are tricks, which can help you along the way.

It is important to understand that discipline is a skill that gets better with practice. That means that if you can just begin applying it in one area of your life soon what you learn will transfer to other areas of your life.

When you are able to apply discipline to any area of your life the results will dramatically improve

Dr Sanderson Abel is an Economist. He writes in his capacity as Senior Economist for the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe. For your valuable feedback and comments related to this article, he can be contacted on or on numbers 04-744686 and 0772463008.
- the herald


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