Picture this: It’s a Sunday night, you’re feeling motivated, and you’re planning the productive things you are going to do this week. A long walk on Monday followed by an evening of cleaning the kitchen; on Tuesday, a working dinner with a coworker to get ahead on a big project; grocery shopping on Wednesday; event planning on Thursday… and so on.
And then, the day comes, and nothing sounds better than sitting on the couch and watching TV. Does this sound familiar? Especially when it comes to finances, it’s easier to make big plans for productivity when you’re feeling motivated and inspired, but it’s much more difficult to follow through and execute these plans when it comes time. If you find yourself in this financial cycle of struggling to follow through, commitment devices can help.
Commitment devices can help you stay on track by allowing your current self to make decisions for your future self. They help us to make decisions now to put limits on our future behaviors. It’s easier to make these future commitments when we’re thinking critically and logically, and when our motivation is high.
Having a partner help you to pursue a goal can help you stay on track. Social accountability can be a powerful commitment device. Social accountability is basically finding an accountability partner who isn’t afraid to dish out some tough love when you need it, and for many of us, not disappointing someone who is trying to help us is highly motivating.
There are a few options for people you can connect with who can hold you accountable for pursuing your goals.
1. Family or friends: Who is a trusted friend or family member that you can count on? It could be a friend with similar goals, a partner, a sibling or a parent. Have check-ins with them to make sure you’re staying on track and ask them to hold you accountable if you are going off the rails.
Tip: Ask your accountability partner to help you with things that may distract you from achieving your goals. For example, if you tend to scroll aimlessly on social media for hours and put off important tasks, ask your accountability partner to hold you accountable to limiting your screen time until you’ve completed your task.
2. Trusted professional: Working with a trusted professional when it comes to managing money is a great way to stay committed and get great advice along the way. These are people who can help you create a plan that works best for you and your specific situation.
Tip: Declare your goal publicly. If you are working with a professional to help you with your goal of owning a home within the next two years, tell your family and friends about this goal. When people know your goal, you may feel more responsibility to make sure you stay committed, even when you want to quit.
3. Goals coach: You may be looking for an unbiased partner from whom you can receive tips and guidance to achieve your goals. A Goals Coach at U.S. Bank is a great resource. Goals coaches can help you build a plan to achieve anything, from sticking to a budget to building a business, while sharing tips and tricks to create positive habits along the way.
If you aren’t comfortable asking a friend or family member to be your accountability partner or buddy, try talking with a goals coach. Goals coaches are impartial and ready to help you objectively work through your wants and needs.
Tip: Make it fun! Create a game out of achieving a goal you’re aiming for. For example, if you have a goal of saving a certain amount of money, promise yourself that if you don’t reach that goal, you’ll do a hard task, like running 15 miles or deep cleaning your storage closet.
Schedule your future
Scheduling your future during times of high motivation can help you follow through on your goals.
1. Pay yourself first: Paying yourself first can be a great way to prioritize saving. To do this, set up automatic transfers or mechanisms into accounts dedicated to savings. That way, you’re adding to your savings before the money can be utilized for something different.
Tip: Revisit the amount you add to your savings every couple of months and try to add more to your automatic transfers as time goes on.
2. Send yourself calendar invites: When you are feeling motivated and want to ensure you follow through at a later date, send yourself calendar invites. For example, if you find yourself on a Wednesday morning feeling motivated to get taxes done on Saturday, send yourself a calendar invite for Saturday to sit down and do your taxes. Inviting yourself to complete a task means blocking a specific amount of time and showing up rather than just another reminder notification that you can quickly flick away.
Tip: To encourage yourself to follow through on your calendar invites, reward yourself with something you love during or after. For example, get your favorite coffee and donut while you do taxes, or reward yourself afterward by watching your favorite show.
3. Set up appointments with your accountability partner: One of the hardest parts about working with an accountability partner is getting started. An easy first step to financial wellness is to take five minutes out of your day to set up an appointment with a goals coach or other accountability partner.
Commitment devices can be a great way to achieve your goals. Choose one – or several – of the ideas from this list today to help you remain focused on your financial success.
Continue reading for more ways to create positive money habits.
Goals Coaches do not:
U.S. Bank assumes no responsibility for and makes no claims concerning the merit or sufficiency of your goals and does not assume any responsibility or liability for any losses or other outcomes resulting from decisions made by you, actions taken or not taken by you, in connection with U.S. Bank and U.S. Bank Goals Coaching services.