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How to Make Difficult Financial Decisions

Chris Gottschalk

Chris Gottschalk About The Author

Oct 4, 2022 4:45:00 AM

Most financial decisions are pretty easy, like choosing what brand of toothpaste to buy or deciding between seeing a movie or buying a new book. Some financial decisions, though, are a lot harder. Decisions like whether to buy a new house or rent an apartment, what type of car you should buy or even whether you should stay at your current job or start your own small business can stress anyone out.

The reason why these decisions are so hard isn’t just because of how much they’ll cost. These decisions will also have a significant impact on your life, and the consequences of these financial decisions can affect you for years. How can you make these difficult financial decisions and feel good about the choices you made?

Know Where you Stand

The most important thing you can do to make difficult financial decisions easier is have a clear idea of where you are in life. Okay, this admittedly sounds like something a self-help guru might say, but it’s true. If you don’t know what your core values and priorities are, how will you know if a big financial decision is going to take you closer to your goals?

For instance, if you’re a manager for a Rochester company and you get offered a job in New York City for double the salary, you’ll have to have a good grasp on your values and priorities before accepting the job. You’ll have to think about where you ultimately want to live, how far away you want to be from your immediate family and even whether you want the increased stress you’ll probably face if you take the job, among other things.

You’ll also need to think about where you stand financially. While your values and your priorities will help you figure out where you want to go, your finances will let you know where you stand in the present. If you want to buy a new car, your priority might be a sports car, but if you can’t afford the auto loan payments, you’ll have to settle for less expensive vehicle.

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Balance the Present and the Future

Man standing at a fork in the roadAnother way to make difficult financial decisions easier is to weigh your present needs with your future needs. Unfortunately, too many people tend to consider one over the other. Either they like to live totally in the moment without planning for their future, or they focus on their future goals and end up being miserable in the present.

Balancing the wants and needs of your present and future self isn’t easy, but it can be done. One solution is to write down the short-term pros and cons for a decision, then make a list of pros and cons for the long term. Once you’re done, review these lists and see what decision will make the most sense to you.

Get Some Help

You don’t have to make hard financial decisions by yourself. In fact, the more people you talk with, the more information you’ll have when you ultimately make your choice.

Start by talking with people in your immediate family who might have faced a choice similar to yours, like your siblings and your parents. From there, you can also talk with extended family and friends. They’ll be able to share their experiences, both good and bad, and you can learn from their successes (or failures).

Financial advisors are another good source of advice if you have a big financial decision to make. For instance, you can talk with our friends at Round Table Wealth Partners, or even reach out to our First Alliance team to get some help setting goals and considering your financial options.

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Take Your Time

Important decisions shouldn’t be made in the heat of the moment. Give yourself some time to look over all your options, consider the risks you’re taking and weigh the pros and cons against each other. If you get rushed into a choice, you might overlook an important detail or fail to consider a possible outcome.

You can’t wait forever, though, which leads to the next point…

Don’t Procrastinate

Feeling scared about a big personal decision is natural. In fact, a lot of people are so worried about the consequence of making poor financial decisions that when faced with a big financial choice they simply stick their heads in the proverbial san until the decision goes away.

Woman in front of a computerProcrastination can come in several forms, from “having to take care of more important things first” to “having to get more information.” However the outcome is always the same—the deadline to make a decision passes, and the person no longer has to worry about the consequences of making that decision.

However, in the words of the rock band Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” If you’re going to make a decision no matter what happens, don’t you owe it to yourself to make your choice the best one possible?

Improve Your Decision-Making Skills

While no one can really prepare for big financial decisions before they arise, you can at least practice your decision-making skills. You can start small with decisions like deciding what you’d like for dinner, and only give yourself 30 seconds or so to do it. Of course, you’ll have to stick to your decision.

When you get practice making small decisions, you’ll get used to thinking through questions and coming up with a definite answer. Of course, you won’t make the right choice 100% of the time, so you’ll also learn to cope with the consequences of making the wrong decision. As you do, you’ll also learn that by and large these consequences aren’t that scary.

Get Help Making Difficult Financial Decisions With First Alliance Credit Union

Making difficult decisions is stressful, especially since you might have to live with the result of your choice for years. However, there are steps you can take to help you make the best choice. Know what your values are, get additional points of view, and don’t rush your decision.

If you need help making big financial decisions, become a member of First Alliance Credit Union. In addition to talking with our knowledgeable staff about your financial options, you can also look in our resource center to get help on guides on things like saving money and budgeting, as well as worksheets that will let you plan out your financial goals and pay off your debts.

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We do our best to provide helpful information but we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article, under no circumstance does the information provided constitute legal advice. You are responsible for independently verifying the information if you intend to use it in any way. Additionally, the content is not intended to be reflective of First Alliance Credit Union’s products or services, for accurate and complete details about our product and service information you must speak to an advisor at First Alliance Credit Union.