There is something to be said about hitting the same trail. The path becomes an extension of your routine. You feel safe there. The trail doesn’t judge you or question where you’ve been. It simply welcomes you home, every time you return. 3 Tips for Winning at Your Financial Stability
Continually going back to the same trail has its advantages. If you’re new to hiking, mountain biking, or trail running, it can help you get comfortable with the sport. And if you’re training for an event, like the Squamish 50 or any of the races in the Coast Mountain Trail Series, it can help you measure your progress and even reach a personal best (PB).
In those cases, you can do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result – a better result. But when it comes to managing your money, doing the same thing will always lead you to the same outcome. If you’re not happy with your current financial situation, it might be time to jump off your usual path and take a different trail.
Throw a Debt Snowball
Carrying a heavy backpack can be an effective physical training exercise, but moving around with the added weight of having debt on your shoulders will do nothing but slow you down.
The consumer debt trail is a circle. You can get trapped in a cycle of using credit, and only being able to make the minimum payments. Around and around you will go, and the balances will only grow with each lap.
Pay Off One at a Time to Ease Your Financial Stability
If you want to escape the cycle, the debt-snowball method might be able to help. Rather than stressing out about all of your existing debts, focus on paying off one at a time. Start with whichever debt has the lowest balance and put as much extra money towards it as you can afford to, while only making the minimum payments on your other debts. When the smallest debt is paid off, move onto the next smallest debt and repeat this.
You’ll quickly gain momentum, find yourself in an avalanche (the good kind), and eventually, pay them all off and land on a new trail: the freedom trail.
Practice Mindful Spending
Whether or not you carry any debt, most of us are susceptible to making mindless spending decisions. You might walk into a store for one thing and walk out with four. Or you could get sold on a sale price and buy something thinking you’ll never see it marked down that low again.
(Pro tip: Sales are cyclical, so you probably will see it again within 45-90 days). The purchases seem harmless and the amounts seem small, but doing this repeatedly can quickly take you off the path that was supposed to lead you to your goals.
To get into the habit of making more mindful spending decisions, you need to start by determining what your values are. Ask yourself what you want your life and your lifestyle to look like. From there, you should be able to write down what’s most important to you and maybe even add a few goals.
Then start tracking your spending. You can do this digitally, but there’s something about using pen and paper that makes it more meaningful – and can inspire you to stop spending money on things that don’t add meaning to your life.
At the end of each week, ask yourself one simple question: “Did my spending align with my goals and values?” Hopefully, the answer is always “yes”.
Ask a Local
Finally, while there’s great comfort in sticking to what you know, the problem with staying on the route that feels safe is that you miss countless opportunities to see where the other trails take you. It’s not always easy to admit you don’t know something, but when you’re ready, the best person to reach out to is the one next to you.
Ask family members, friends, and fellow explorers on the trails the “stupid” questions you have about money. Remember, they had to ask those same questions once too.
Trails aren’t built in a day, and they usually aren’t built by only one person. Ask for help when you need it, lend a hand when you can, and you’ll see it takes a community to guide people in the right direction. Finding financial stability will get easier when you become stronger .