By Amanda Mitchell, AFC® Candidate
Change is hard. It can be difficult and often scary, especially when it pushes us outside of our comfort zone. But that is also the beauty of change. It can cause us to grow, learn new things, and become more resilient. The magic happens outside our comfort zones. Military families are no stranger to living outside of their comfort zones. We are asked to do so frequently. Every time we are asked, we learn to adapt and figure out the new normal. This high level of resiliency and familiarity with change can be put to great use when creating financial goals. So, let’s check in with our old friend change and see where some growth can happen.
What is the status quo?
Maintaining the status quo refers to our natural tendency to keep things the way they are. It is comfortable and familiar. We know what the results will be. It requires no extra effort on our behalf. Businesses realize we have this default setting and use clever marketing that plays into it. Do you know those ads for companies selling subscription services that offer a free trial for 30 days? The ones that you have to actually call or speak to someone to cancel before the 30 days is up? These are the types of things that play into our inclination toward the status quo. This is how we get sucked into paying for something we don’t use.
Maintaining the status quo can also keep our less-than-ideal financial habits alive. Small things we repeatedly do, like buying a $5 coffee every morning, become the norm. These small habitual actions are often the cause of leakage in our budgets.
Why fix what is not technically broken?
If you are happy with where you are financially, it can be tough to push yourself to change. If what you are doing is working, then why change at all? However, over the years, our finances change. The things we think are important and what we want to accomplish change. Even though you may be happy where you are and what you are doing is working, there is always room for improvement.
Ways to Combat the Status Quo
- Set it and forget it. Automating your savings is a positive way to use the status quo to your advantage.
- Set financial goals. Make sure that when you set the financial goals you want to accomplish, you are creating long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals. Having goals on different time horizons keeps us engaged and motivated.
- Perform Regular Financial Check-Ups. Write it down on your calendar when you want to do your financial check-up and stick to it. Ideally, you should do this twice a year to evaluate your progress toward your financial goals and catch any areas where you may be overspending.