When I realized I needed to turn my financial life around in order  to pay off debt, and start saving and investing wisely, I had to look at life differently.  A change in behavior must happen if I was going to reach my goals.

Instead of going out to dinners, going to the movies, meeting up with friends for drinks (which can rack up to a hundred dollars or more a month very quickly),  I turned to activities that cost very little or nothing.   Here are three tips that made a difference.

  1. STOP: Going out to dinner (you’re paying more for the service than the actual food).    START:  Making dinner at home and invite family and friends over (it’s a lot of fun making dinner together and much more intimate – go old school).
  2. STOP: Going out to the movies (very expensive and there is always a distraction in the theater crowd that makes you feel like you over paid for the experience).  START:  Record a movie or favorite show on your DVR, rent from Netflix ($5), or play a DVD at home and invite friends over (there are so many sources from which to get and watch movies at home these days – you don’t have to drive to Blockbuster anymore!).
  3. STOP: Meeting up with friends at Starbucks or going out for drinks (that hits the wallet at about $4 for an average coffee and $6 for the average drink).  START:  Ask a friend to go on a walk, hike, run, or workout together (this kills two birds with one stone – you save money and get in better shape).

I’m not suggesting you should never go out to diner, to the movies, or to Starbucks, but when you are trying to meet financial goals, you may need to for a while.  I actually enjoy my START behaviors so much, even after I reached several of my financial goals, I never went back to my STOP behaviors.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”   This is true not only financially, but emotionally as well.

To achieving your goals!