People often say that you cannot look to the past to predict future events. I would beg to differ greatly from that viewpoint. While the circumstances that surround past events may not be duplicated exactly in order to predict the future, as in the stock market, it is very easy to take past behavior and virtually guarantee that without active attempts to change, behavior is more than likely to repeat itself. The key is to first be able to recognize those behaviors which need changing, and then be open to make a conscious effort to change the mindset that led to such behaviors. There is no better day than today to effect that change.
The most obvious thing to change with regard to finances is ones attitude about money. Too many people view money as an unlimited resource which will never be exhausted and spend it at will. These are the same people who have no reservations about breaking out the credit card and charging purchases recklessly without considering whether they have the means to pay it off or not. As is the case with quitting anything, it isn’t going to be easy to simply change spending habits at the drop of a dime (no pun intended), rather it would take determination, patience, and above all the desire to make the change.
Simply deciding to make a change is just not enough. the key is to look back and try to isolate relationships, emotions or events that may have contributed to the lack of discipline in the first place. This is where the learning part comes in. Once you can target specific situations, you can then begin to take measures to ensure that those situations to not come up again. Perhaps there was a rich friend that you were trying to keep up with. Maybe there was a relationship where you were pressured to spend in order to maintain a certain lifestyle. Or, it could simply be a case of not having enough education or information about money and finances. Whatever the root cause, the important thing is to recognize it and make a concerted effort to keep from falling back into that situation. This is the same thing that drug addicts, smokers, and alcoholics are faced with: staying away from the influences, places, and events that promoted their dangerous habits in the first place.
If it is possible, garner the support of family, friends, and even coworkers. Tell them all about your desires to break your bad money habits. Ask them to help keep you in check. There is no shame in trying to be more responsible when it comes to finances and it is always easier to make changes when you have the support of those with whom you have contact on a regular basis. The important thing is to recognize the fact that you need to make changes and are honest with yourself about the need to do so.
Have you done a self evaluation of your money management skills? What habits have you learned that were holding you back?