If you are healthy and working, you should be able to save enough money to live the life you want. But if it’s as simple as that, why do so many people struggle?

Your own bad habits are usually the biggest obstacle standing between where you are now and where you want to be.

Having the right attitude towards your everyday spending is much more important than investing in the right stocks or property.

It’s time for a bit of self-reflection and honesty. Start with this five-step checklist and you will be well on your way to financial freedom.

 

  1. Ask yourself: What do you own, and what do you owe?

Grab a piece of paper and make two columns. In the left column, list every asset you have. In the right, list everything you owe. This will give you an important understanding of your net worth and whether you can afford to sell a few things to free yourself from debt.

  1. Make a list of what you earn and what you spend.

Same thing here – write down everything you make (after tax) and then have a go at working out how much you spend. If the balance is negative, ask yourself – are you letting money slip through your fingers?

Your own bad habits are usually the biggest obstacle standing between where you are now and where you want to be.

  1. Start up a piggy bank.

You’ll feel silly doing it, but I promise this works. Buy two of those metal money tins, the type you need a can opener to get inside. Make a daily ritual of putting every coin you collect into only one of the tins.

Open it at Christmas time and be surprised at how much you saved. Then start the New Year with the new tin. That’s why you already have it – so you don’t miss a day of saving. This physical act of collecting coins will help you develop a habit of saving across all aspects of your life.

  1. Get serious about your super.

Why do we ignore our second most valuable asset so much? If superannuation was a pet dog, it would have run away from most of our homes years ago. Get serious about combining your super funds and having them invested on your terms.

  1. Set a payday goal.

Set a money goal for your next pay period – it doesn’t matter how much it is, even if it’s only an extra $10. All that matters is that you write down the goal on a piece of paper at the start of your next pay cycle, then at the end write down ‘achieved’ or ‘not achieved’. It’s that simple.

Why so basic? Because most of us are lousy at sticking to goals for longer than a few days. We just aren’t made that way. This exercise is about training new money muscles to keep you on track.