NEW YORK (MainStreet) One of the painfully funny films from the '90s, "Groundhog Day" struck a chord with many of us. Committing the same mistakes over and over again may seem unavoidable at times, but Bill Murray's character, Phil, gives us hope that anyone can break the spell.
If your finances are trapped in their own kind of Groundhog Day, we've got some tips to help you find a way out.
You have to be ready to change.
Let's face it, old habits die hard. Even if you really want to improve your money habits, it's easier said than done. Some people might be able to force themselves to change, but more often there is a defining moment, much like Phil has in the movie, when we decide we're tired of the same old thing and are ready for something new. When that happens, it's important to act on it. Take advantage of the momentum while you can.
Live for today, but plan for tomorrow.
Making the most of our money requires walking a fine line between enjoying the moment and sacrificing for the future. If you're blowing your paychecks each month, you're probably having fun, but it will eventually catch up with you. Then again, if all you do is worry about retirement, you may look back with regret over missed opportunities. So, strike a balance. Live for today, but plan for tomorrow.
There is value in helping others.
After exhausting all other options, Phil eventually starts helping those around him. And that's when his luck really starts to improve. A lot of people feel hopeless or give up when they're discouraged about their financial situation. But that simply doesn't work. A better approach would be to gain perspective by looking outside of your own problems. Helping others can actually help you move forward as well.
If it's broke, fix it.
The bottom line is this. If what you're doing isn't working, it's probably time to try something different. If your issue is overspending, take your credit card out of your wallet. Stop visiting storeseither in person or online. Or, if you've been day trading your funds in a downward spiral, perhaps it's time to work with an advisor, or pick out a mutual fund. The key is to change the behavior. Different behaviors lead to different outcomes. And if there's one thing we can control, it's our behavior.
Apply a lesson or two from the movie to your finances, and you might just be pleasantly surprised. There was a happily-ever-after ending, after all.
--Written by Lauren Lyons Cole for MainStreet