Is your money situation a bit out of hand? Are you making some bad choices, but don’t know how to break the cycle? Are you longing for the peace of mind that comes with repsonsibly managing your finances? Here are just a few helpflul tips to turn things around.

Define Your ‘Why’

Without a strong motivator, it will be very hard to change bad money habits. They have been really deeply ingrained, and sometimes we feel like these habits are just part of our DNA, hopeless to shift them. But, nothing could be further from the truth, and the first step in making lasting change is defining your ‘why.’ Why do you want to improve your money situation? Why do you want things to get better? Why do you need them to?

Write down all the reasons you want to improve your finances, and then ask yourself why you want those things, and then those things…you see where this is going. Each time you ask yourself this question, you get deeper into your core motivation. Once you define this, you will feel much clearer on your path. You will feel much more motivated because you will have identified the benefits of these changes at the deepest levels.

Changing Bad Money Habits

Create a Plan of Attack

Now that you have identified your core motivators for improving your finances, you need to make a plan of attack. Too often, we say we want to make certain changes, and make some vague declarations of how we will do so. We tell ourselves we will watch our spending, try to save more money, pay down our debt, and this is a good first step, but you have to take it further. These sentiments, without a concrete plan to execute them, will be nothing more than words. There may be some half-hearted attempts, but by and large ,things will stay the same.

Taking specific steps will keep you focused, and makes it much easier to act. First, you want to decide where you will be directing your efforts, and prioritize. What specific changes are you looking to make? What are your biggest money problems right now that need attention? Is it your anemic savings account, or extravagant weekend recreation? If you haven’t made a budget, that is a non-negotiable.

Also, think of things you can do that will make this endeavor seem fun, or help you be more organized with it. That can make a big difference. For example, maybe you want to buy some nice, personalized checks with flowers, horses or some other item you like personally—you can find a large selection online. Get some budgeting software, or if you are more old school, and like a good old pen and paper, get a nice notebook.

Don’t Focus Too Far in the Future

Do your best to focus on the here and now. When you think of how long it will take to pay off your debt, or reach your savings goal, it can feel discouraging because it may be kind of far off. You think of your limited funds to tackle these issues, and it hardly seems worth it, so you don’t even start. But, we all have to begin somewhere when it comes to cleaning up our money messes. Just take things one day at a time. Celebrate your good choices.