Happy Star Wars Day! Today, Star Wars fans worldwide celebrate their favorite movie franchise, wishing each other “May the fourth be with you” in honor of the films’ most iconic line.
Though it may be difficult to imagine Obi-Wan Kenobi ever balancing a checkbook, there’s much to emulate from the Jedi Order when it comes to improving your finances. Self-discipline is a key tenet of Jedi life, as well as the foundation to keeping your money goals on track. Unfortunately, we all know human nature is sometimes at odds with fostering self-discipline. So, in honor of May the Fourth, consider these four Jedi-worthy “mind tricks” – inspired by Yoda himself – to help you stay focused on building a bright financial future. No light saber required.
“You must unlearn what you learned.”
“Unlearning” your bad spending habits requires that you discard temptations to return to your old ways. E-mails from your favorite shopping destinations arrive in your inbox daily boasting sales, deals and shiny new product arrivals. Each time you click to a website – even if it’s “just to browse” – you’re opening yourself up to the temptation to spend.
Help yourself avoid the allure of spending unnecessary dollars by unsubscribing to recurring e-mails that urge you to shop. Use a free service like Unroll.me to unsubscribe from hundreds of newsletters with one click. Catalog Choice helps you opt-out from receiving paper catalogs and coupons at home. Your budget and the environment will benefit.
“The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the future is.”
Psychologists have touted the benefits of visualization for decades, with studies showing that goals are more easily achieved by creating a mental image of the future state you desire.
Take visualization a step further by creating a physical image of your inspiration to hang up in your home or office. It can be a print out, a drawing or even a post-it note describing your financial goal. Look at this image daily and re-charge your commitment to long-term financial health.
“Patience you must have, my young padawan.”
Patience may be the hardest virtue, but it’s well worth cultivating in your financial life. Whenever you are considering a purchase – especially larger purchases – slow down, walk away and sleep on it. Putting time and space between yourself and the register allows you to determine if the item is essential to your life or simply an impulse.
Your will is stronger than you think. Luke Skywalker also needed help trusting his abilities, too. Never forget: the force is already strong within you. Slow down and you can save money in the long run.
“You will find only what you bring in.”
More than 60 percent of Americans don’t have savings set aside to manage a $500 emergency. While putting aside money is challenging, it is one of the most important parts of a healthy financial life.
Consider making your approach to savings more automatic. After ensuring you’re putting enough of your pay aside into your 401(k) or investment account, consider deferring a portion of your payroll directly to your savings account. After a few months, you’ll find you have a “rainy day fund” set aside just in case you need it.
Connecting your spending to saving is another great way to make saving money more painless. Several banks and apps allow customers to round-up purchases to the next dollar and save or even invest that money in a risk-based portfolio. You’ll enjoy the benefits of compounding interest, but you don’t need to be an expert at investing.
Yoda famously said “Fear is the path to the dark side.” Fear can play a big role in keeping people from achieving their financial goals.
Readers: Are you a financial Jedi? How do you avoid the dark side and stay on track with your money goals? Leave a Comment here or share your suggestion on Twitter with hashtag #FinancialJedi.