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8 Things You Must Give Up for More Financial Success

To create more success, sometimes you simply have to give up what's holding you back. Money Girl covers eight ways to achieve your financial goals more easily. 

By
Laura Adams, MBA
6-minute read
Episode #623
financial success

We talk a lot about what you need to do to be financially successful. But sometimes succeeding isn't about what you do so much as what you don't. 

I recently watched Last Chance U, a Netflix docuseries about collegiate football players who are struggling for success despite being incredibly talented athletes. Each of the young men got kicked out of Division I schools for different reasons. Now, they’re forced to prove themselves by playing ball at the junior college level. They hope to graduate and catch the attention of a recruiter so they can return to Division I football.

Last Chance U is a great series, and not just because the boys are full of personality. As a viewer, it’s easy to see what’s holding the players back, and you’re rooting for each one to turn it around while there’s still time.

The show inspired me to consider that making positive changes in your life and finances isn’t necessarily about doing more but instead may come down to what you should get rid of. Let's talk about eight things you must give up to have more success, no matter how you define it. 

1. Give up unhealthy habits

Getting sick can not only drain your energy, but it can drain your finances. It’s challenging to enjoy success when you’re not physically and mentally healthy. Taking care of yourself by dropping unhealthy habits is where it all starts. 

There’s no end to the benefits that come from eating high-quality, unprocessed foods, and giving up too much fast food, alcohol, and sugar in your diet. Living longer, maintaining a healthy weight, and feeling good are just a few of the upsides. We often forget that nutrition affects us on a cellular level, and a poor diet is the cause of many chronic illnesses.

Getting plenty of exercise and sleeping at least eight hours a night can work like a miracle. You’ll have more energy, feel happier, look better, and crank out better work. Adding extra movement into your routine—such as a quick 10-minute walk, taking a yoga class, or playing on a sports team—will clear your mind and help you stay focused on what’s most important to you.

RELATED: Nutrition Diva and Get-Fit Guy

2. Give up perfectionism

Often, when we have a plan that doesn’t work out perfectly, we get frustrated and give up. It could be a budget that went off the rails, a promotion that didn’t happen, or a class you didn’t pass. It’s rare not to have setbacks in any meaningful endeavor.

To avoid financial slip-ups, consider automating your savings goals.

You might even avoid dreaming big or reaching for a new opportunity because you’re afraid of failure. If you wait for the perfect time to take action, you’re just procrastinating and wasting time. Instead, take small steps forward by focusing on what you can control.

To avoid financial slip-ups, consider automating your savings goals. You might enroll in a workplace retirement account or ask your employer to split your payroll deposit into one or more separate accounts. This allows you to build savings without having to think about it.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Challenge Your Perfectionism

3. Give up your excuses

Successful people know that they can’t let excuses get in the way of achieving their dreams. Blaming others for why you don’t have the career, savings, or lifestyle you want will always hold you back.

Successful people know that they can’t let excuses get in the way of achieving their dreams. 

No matter your background, you’re responsible for what happens in your professional and personal life. Instead of making excuses for bad financial behavior or choices you made in the past, own it. Then take control by creating a simple plan that outlines your next steps.

4. Give up multi-tasking

These days, multi-tasking while you’re watching TV, having a conversation, or driving, is too common. Successful people know that distractions keep you from being fully present and can cause your work and relationships to suffer. When you're struggling in other areas of your life, it can be challenging to stay financially healthy. 

Just because you have the internet in your pocket doesn’t mean you should be on email and social media constantly. Consider removing most alerts and notifications and scheduling your online time as a reward.

No matter if you’re exercising, working, or spending time with friends, stay dedicated to one thing at a time. Try not to take out your phone during meals, meetings, or peak work time unless you’re waiting on an urgent message. Giving up distractions and staying focused and engaged will lead to more success.

RELATED: Is Your Smartphone Good or Bad for Your Relationship?

5. Give up short-term thinking

Reaching big dreams and financial goals rarely happens quickly. Most significant achievements, such as retirement, are the result of long-term planning that may have taken years or decades. If you make small, continuous improvements that compound over time, you can achieve any desired outcome. It’s the collection of daily habits that precede the results.

If you make small, continuous improvements that compound over time, you can achieve any desired outcome. It’s the collection of daily habits that precede the results.

For example, if you want to retire with more than a million dollars, you need to invest $300 a month starting in your 20s, $800 a month starting in your 30s, or $1,200 a month starting in your 40s. The more time you have to make investments that compound, the less money you need to invest to achieve your goal.

The sooner you take a long-term view, the easier it is to build a secure future or achieve any dream you have. Start now, even if you start small and give up short-term thinking.

6. Give up overspending

The only way to get ahead financially is to make sure you live within your means and have money left over to invest each month. Living paycheck to paycheck may take care of your immediate wants and needs, but it’s dangerous because you’re kicking a financial can down the road.  

Calculating the value of your time is a powerful way to understand what something truly costs. Before you reach for your credit card, do some quick math.

For example, if you earn $60,000 a year, you earn about $30 an hour. If you see a pair of shoes or something you want online that costs $300, you’d have to work 10 hours before taxes to pay for it. To figure an after-tax ballpark, take about 20% to 25% off your hourly rate. That leaves you with approximately $23 an hour and means you really have to work more than 13 hours to pay for a $300 item. If you wouldn’t happily trade 13 hours of work for the item, forget about it!

To be comfortable later on, you may need to feel slightly uncomfortable today.

The trade-off for spending all of your paycheck today is a future with no financial security. To be comfortable later on, you may need to feel slightly uncomfortable today. So, evaluate your priorities carefully and give up unnecessary spending that’s holding you back from achieving more.

7. Give up people who don’t support you

The people you spend the most time with are the ones who influence you the most. Hanging out with people who encourage you to overspend, want to borrow money, or don't support your financial goals when you’re on a budget, can decrease your likelihood of success. Likewise, spending time with people who support your goals and want the best for your financial future allows you to stay on the right path.

It’s time to give up or minimize time spent with toxic people. Instead, find better friends, relationships, and mentors who boost your opportunities for personal and financial success.

RELATED: How to Handle a Toxic Family Member

8. Give up wasted time

We only have one life to achieve the success we want. If you're spending too much time playing video games, surfing the web, or watching TV, be clear about the fact that those activities probably aren't moving you any closer to your goals.

Doing the same things you've always done will give you the same results that you've always gotten.

Sometimes you need to say "no" to invitations from friends, work colleagues, and opportunities that stand in the way of what you truly want to achieve. Yes, scheduling time for recreation is important, but don't let it be an escape from accomplishing what's truly important to you.

Doing the same things you've always done will give you the same results that you've always gotten. In other words, repeating the same bad choices gives you the same problems. Your success comes from your choices—will you spend your nights and weekends improving yourself or waste them on meaningless activities? I gave up TV for many months so I could go to bed earlier and then get up early to write my first book before commuting an hour to a full-time job. That sacrifice ultimately led to many other opportunities and financial rewards.

Also, consider how you spend your downtime at work. Use your lunch hour to read, study, build your professional network, or start a small business. Successful people generally aren't smarter or luckier than every else. But they do use their time more efficiently and make better choices more often than the average person.

You owe it to yourself to give up wasted time and make the most of the precious 24 hours in a day. Be courageous and forge your path to personal and financial success. You'll be glad you did!

About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a trusted and frequent source for the national media. Her book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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