But according to Anna Goldstein, New York City life coach specializing in business, fixing your money problems doesn't start with moving dollars around—it's actually all about mindset. "I work with clients' mindset because the way you think profoundly influences the way you feel," Goldstein explains. "Learning to think differently can enable you to feel and act differently."
To help you find the right mindset, we tapped Goldstein to share her happiness tips for people in all financial situations—whether checking your bank balance is a weekly source of stress, or if you're just wishing you could level up your financial savvy.
Scroll down for 4 happiness tips to help you feel better about your financial situation—no matter what your bank account balance is.
Step 1: Accept where you’re at financially
According to Goldstein, the number one action item for financial happiness is honesty—AKA identifying your personal financial reality. "Be honest with yourself," she says. "You can't change what you aren't aware of. Get clean with where you are and where your money is going. Look at your finances head on."
That honesty includes being kind to yourself about your financial situation, instead of comparing yourself to someone who seems better off.
"The truth is we never really know what’s going on with someone else, even when it looks like they have it all on the outside," Goldstein says. "If you’re comparing yourself and judging yourself based on the state of someone else’s finances, you are likely not giving your own finances enough attention, and it’s a wake-up call to turn the attention back to yourself."
Step 2: Come up with a financial goal
Just like accomplishing goals at work or the gym gives you that rush of feel-good vibes, setting financial goals is equally rewarding—but first you have to figure out what that goal should be.
Goldstein recommends picking a goal by "prioritizing your priorities," and asking yourself the following questions: What is the most important and urgent goal? When do you want to accomplish it by? How will you accomplish it? Why is it important to you?
Pro tip: If you keep your list of questions and answers in a journal or a note on your phone, you can do periodic check-ins to make sure your goals are still aligned with your priorities as they change over time.
Step 3: Put that plan into action
Once you have the answers to those questions, you'll be well on your way to setting (and achieving!) your goals. But no matter what you land on, Goldstein recommends they include making saving an automatic.
"Even if you can’t save a lot, it’s important to build the habit of savings," she says. "Setting up automatic savings can alleviate the need to think about it. Set it and forget it! Then when you start seeing your money grow, hopefully it will inspire you to continue."
Step 4: Stay positive
But even if your savings don't grow as quickly as you'd like and progress toward your other financial goals feels slow, Goldstein emphasizes the need to stay positive.
"Think positively about money. If you are constantly telling yourself you don’t have enough, your mind will look for evidence to prove that to be true," she says. Instead, she tells her clients to focus on both what they already have and what they can envision themselves achieving.
"I recommend writing down three specific things you are grateful for daily," she says. "It’s also helpful to create 'future gratitude' lists, where you become grateful for things you want to manifest. This will help you start to embody the feelings you want to feel now. It’s important for self empowerment, because if you feel good, you are likely to take more action."
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