In personal finance, nobody's perfect

It can be difficult to stick to your personal finance goals, but nobody's perfect, Hamm writes. The trick is to think positive and focus on successful personal finance decisions.

Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters/File
A woman takes a deposit box out of a compartment in the safe room of an Austrian bank in Vienna.

When I’m writing articles for The Simple Dollar, I’m always scouring my life for positive personal finance stories to share. What things have I done that have worked for me? What principles have I seen show up time and time again in my life? How do I keep myself positively motivated?

Over a long period of time, it all presents a very positive picture. When I read through my old articles, in fact, I keep thinking to myself, “Wow, I wish I was as strong at personal finance as that guy!”

The reality is that I fail at personal finance things, more often than I like.

For example, my biggest temptation and spending failure is books. I still have a strong desire to purchase books, often as fast (or faster) than I can read them. Sure, I’m more efficient at buying them than I used to be as I utilize more used book services, Kindle Daily Deals, and so on, but I still spend more money on books than I should and I often give into book impulse buys. 

When I go grocery shopping, I do a good job of sticking to my list when I shop by myself, but when my children are with me, it’s a lot harder. It’s not because they ask for things or put stuff in the cart, but because my focus is diverted. I end up making less-than-perfect shopping choices and I know that I am.

I often forget about leftovers in the fridge. It’s not that I don’t want to eat them, but that when it’s lunchtime and I go downstairs to find lunch, I might not see them or they simply slip my mind.

I could list dozens of things like this. Little failures, sprinkled throughout my life.

I know I fail at these little things, quite often, in fact. What I try very hard not to do, though, is to use them as an excuse to do even worse.

Just because I impulsively bought a book doesn’t mean that my big goals are never going to happen. It just means I made a mis-step, one that I’ll think about for a while and push myself not to repeat any time soon.

At the same time, I try to keep most of my thoughts on the successes. A day without a mistake is more likely to stick in my mind and bring me pride and joy than a day with a mistake or two in it.

I use that great day as inspiration. “I can do this,” I’ll tell myself, and I’ll strive to repeat it.

Yeah, I might stumble and fumble some days. I might buy something I don’t need at the grocery store or forget to take care of something I know I should be handling.

Even then, I know I can do this. I know I can succeed. I’ve witnessed myself do it in the past and I know I have the ability to move forward on anything I want to do. That’s where I keep my focus.

I’m imperfect, but I don’t dwell on my mistakes aside from asking myself how to correct them. Instead, I remember my successes and strive to match or, better yet, top them.

Instead of feeling bad about my imperfections, I focus on feeling good about those moments when I transcend them and achieve something better. I feel great and I have an example for tomorrow.

The post Imperfect appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.