This video post is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker previously featured a post on his own blog entitled, 42 Ways to Radically Simplify your Financial Life.

For many people, the process of personal finance cycles between intense motivation and devastating burnout. A life event, a powerful communicator, or maybe even a simple blog post creates an initial spark. Before we know it, we’re wound up and ready to pounce: We vow to finally get our finances in order.

We slash our restaurant budget to nothing. We research car-pooling options in our area and collect quotes on refinancing our mortgage. We start clipping coupons, cut out our spending vices, and craft fancy budgets with dozens of categories. Unfortunately, few battles in history have ever been won when waged on so many fronts. Our best intentions soon crumble to the inevitable. We become overwhelmed. Burnout creeps in, and few of our positive changes stick.

This was what happened consistently to Courtney and me several years ago. In the following video, I elaborate on the technique we employed to finally break this pattern and create positive change that lasted.

A brief summary of the video:

  • The nature of excitement and change [0:35]
  • Benefits of starting with a few, broad budgeting categories [1:00]
  • Breaking down one broad category per month [2:00]
  • Ensuring positive changes stick [2:50]
  • Don’t forget to spend one month on increasing income! [3:49]

By budgeting with broad categories and focusing on only one per month, Courtney and I were finally able to maintain our motivation over a longer period of time. Our targeted focus gave us a deeper awareness of problem areas, and enabled us to retain the majority of our new habits.

Have you experienced success with a similar strategy? What other techniques have you used to maintain motivation and avoid burnout?

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