Nothing changed my ingrained money habits until after I left my corporate job for entrepreneurship. Not the money snowball, not the spare change savings plan, and not the frozen credit card trick.
In spite of my failed efforts to save more than I spent, the first month that chunk of change didn't land automatically in my bank account, my money sense made a very dramatic pirouette to stage left.
I went from flitting through the aisle at Target to scanning every item with the mobile app to get an extra 5 percent off. And even more shocking, my savings account grew from dollar-store piggy bank size to months in reserve. The shift happened almost without me realizing it.
When I knew that money was hitting the bank without fail, it was easy to spend it before it got there. It was easy to say "we can cover that by the 1st" and swipe the credit card, knowing I could pay it off later. Now that the regular paycheck is gone, I not only live within the money I have, but I spend less knowing that it might need to stretch a bit further than anticipated.
Here are some ways your thinking might shift once the paycheck quits hitting the bank account:
Every Dollar you Spend Takes on Tangible Meaning
That new shirt? The question is no longer "Is that shirt worth the money?". The question becomes "Is that shirt worth the amount of work that I do? It takes an hour of web design to buy that shirt," I'll think to myself. I've literally walked away from items I'd have purchased without a second thought just a few months ago. As a result I only purchase things that truly make me happy. And, purchases I've made in the past that are hanging around and cluttering up my home are starting to bother me. I'm going to have a huge donation for the Salvation Army this year as I get rid of the physical items cluttering up my home.
Money Stress is Almost Non-existent (or at least changed).
I never thought that the loss of a regular paycheck would result in LESS money stress. I know it seems backwards. I never realized that our spending habits were based on our future income. Now that money comes in irregularly, I live based on what I have in my account and how many months in the future I have covered. I have a healthy savings account for the first time in my life. Do I still worry about money? Yes, I still need to be aware of my budget and make sure I have enough savings to stay ahead. I still sometimes lie awake at night worrying about a money emergency. But one look at the books and I can relax because I know I've got it covered.
You Stop Spending Your Future
In the past when we've planned big vacations or large purchases we bought first and paid it off later. Now, I plan ahead. We're hoping to take a cruise in the spring and I began adding extra income generating efforts to the plan in October so that the money will be ready when the bill comes. When you're trapped in a salary that is under someone else's control, you can't adjust the effort/income ratio to match your needs and wants. As an entrepreneur, you can.
You Invest in Yourself More
Most people don't send themselves to a conference or sign up for workshops if they have to pay for it out of their own pocket. They expect their employer to pay for those things. And if the employer doesn't have a budget for employee development? They go for years without developing their skills. As an entrepreneur, I'm more likely to buy a marketing course than a pedicure. And I've learned that when I'm footing the bill, I focus a lot more on listening and using what I learn when I get home.
If fear of the financial shift is what's keep you from making the leap to entrepreneur, you don't need to be afraid. Get very real about how much you need to make, how you're going to make it, and what you'll do if you need a fall back. And then sit back and enjoy the ride.