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Have you ever looked up a spiral staircase? The stairs turn in and around on themselves over and over. They’re very beautiful. And they demonstrate something so many of us can learn from: one step at a time, even a very small step, can take you from where you are now to where you want to be.
You don’t have a travel a big distance to be making progress. Just take that first step. Then the next. Up you go.
Getting to debt-free forever, accumulating a stash of cash to send your kids to university or college, setting up an emergency fund can all feel like impossible feats. When you look at the demands on your time, how will you ever manage to keep up with your spending journal? And if your buddy just will not keep his or her hand out of your pocket, how will you ever save the money you want for retirement?
It is so easy — so much easier — to just keep on doing what you’ve always been doing. How’s that workin’ for ya? Not so much?
Well, if you don’t change your behaviour, you won’t change your outcome. So today’s the day you take your first step on the spiral staircase to success.
Change one thing. Just one thing. If you’ve never been good at tracking your spending, make a label and stick it to your wallet. The label says, “Ask for a receipt.”
Collect a receipt everywhere you go. Even if you buy a cup of coffee, get a receipt. And if you forget, that’s just a small slip. It’s not an excuse to dump the whole exercise!
Next, get a notebook. Every night enter all the receipts for the day in the notebook. The point is to develop a new habit: to become aware of where every penny is going. Only then will you find the money you need to accomplish whatever it is you want to do.
Once you get used to tracking what you’re spending, start using your notebook as a spending journal, deducting what you’ve spent from your bank balance to keep track of your money’s ins and outs in real time.
Got that down pat? Figure out how to make a budget. Then start tracking your actual spending against your budget to see how you’re using your money. Set up an excel spreadsheet and start holding yourself accountable.
Don’t rush it. Sometimes people start new habits with huge enthusiasm only to find their motivation seeps away and they’re right back where they started. Well, maybe that was trying to take two or three steps at once. More distance covered, but a lot more effort.
If that hasn’t worked for you, step back a stair or two.
Whatever it is you’re trying to do, break it down into the smallest possible steps. Take one step at a time. Feel secure on that step. Know where you are. Then take the next step.
Your progress may be a little slower, but you’ll feel safe in every step you take. And you’ll spiral your way to success.