Overcoming Money Problems
Money problems are probably the biggest complaint people have after health problems. Sometimes we are in so deep (with debt) that we figure there is no way out so we may as well live with it. We tell ourselves that it is a normal part of life, a necessary evil. After all, pretty much everyone we know has some kind of debt. We may think that there is no other option, no other way of doing things and meeting our bill payments.
What if I told you that there is a way out of the money problems? It is possible to regain control of our money situation and use it to our advantage. By changing the way we see money and it’s role and understanding that we can be in charge, we can turn our situation around.
There are three main reasons we get tripped up with money and never seem to have enough of it to pay our bills and climb our way out of debt:
Everything Around Us Offers Suggestions On How We Should Live
We almost can’t even get out of bed without someone, or something suggesting that we need this or that. We turn on the tv and we are bombarded with advertising telling us what exactly we can not live without. We go to the grocery store with a list and as soon as we get in, there are tables up front with items we had no idea we wanted and had no intention of buying, but there they are, staring at us defiantly, daring us to say no.
They know what they are doing, don’t they? Advertisers spend millions, sometimes, just trying to get into our mind with alluring visuals, hoping to manipulate the 4 billion neurons in our subconscious mind and get us to buy on impulse. Logically, we know we shouldn’t buy on impulse, but our senses tell a different story. The smells, the visuals, the context and even the season all play havoc on our sound mind.
The advertisements create desires to make us think that we need what they are selling. and we justify /rationalize our spending. Sometimes we can’t even logically explain why we spend. And further, we become desensitized to the advertising to where it becomes normal and expected.
And then, there is social conformity-a kind of social standard for how we should be living, usually measured by what the Jones’ have or how the Jones’ are living. Kids are phenomenal at picking up on what they “need” to have because “all my friends have it or are doing it.” And parents often get “suckered in” to this pressure if they are not careful. Basically, we all fall into this trap at some point.
The only winners in this game are those (usually, banks via credit cards) loaning us the money.
Cheap Credit is Readily Available
It is so easy to get credit and collect credit cards like baseball cards (if you want). What bank is not interested in cashing in on unpaid interest? Of course, there are cultures where this is not the case and the people can not relate to the North American or European problem of debt. But, on the whole, it is incredibly easy to stack up debt to where you are literally drowning under credit card payments and other kinds of debt.
And, in a system where they can print money digitally, virtually out of thin air, -money that doesn’t even exist, it is easy to become upside down in one’s finances. Anytime we agree to pay with the most valuable asset we have (our time) and lots of it, for something that a financial institution can pretty much rip out from under us in a split second (for example, a mortgaged home), we should probably exercise some caution.
The media convinces us that payments are easy and sometimes there is “no money down” or we can “pay next year.” It is that easy. We purchase on credit (cars, sofas, TVs- just about anything we want to have) because the offer is alluring. Just because it is possible, doesn’t mean we should. And the sad thing is, we actually don’t even own what we thought we bought – the bank does.
We buy things with money we haven’t earned yet to get something we shouldn’t buy with the money we don’t have.
Not only this, as we increase our credit, we increasingly lose control of our life, because our life becomes dictated by what we owe and not what we want to do.
Quite naturally, we have difficulty waiting. We have difficulting denying ourselves and denying gratification. Patience is generally not our strong point. So, when we add this to the constant advertising pushes to get us to buy, we get caught up in the now and fail to think of the long-term impact of our short-term decisions. Essentially, we buy in impulse.
But. what if we took a long view of things? What if we looked at what we want to accomplish in life – where we want to be financially, in our work or in our family relationships and dreams? When we keep a long-term focus front and center, we can ignore the impulses (the subliminal subconscious messaging) and make decisions more in line with our goals.
What future do you want and what decisions are you ready to make to bring that future into existence?
What is delayed gratification? Many believe it is just not buying what you want. But if you are not buying what you want because you don’t have the money, that is not delayed gratification. It really means making the decision not to buy, even if you have the money to do so because you are making a decision based on long-term thinking.
Some Practical Applications
Of course, none of this suggesting that we need to be penny-pinching everything or recycling paper towel to save money. It simply means we can start to become aware of where our money is really going and take steps to cut back on spending that doesn’t contribute to our satisfaction or well being. It simply means cutting back on wasteful or unnecessary spending.
We can think about doing some long-term and preventative planning such as building a “what if” emergency fund to tide us over when things are rough.
Being in control of our money rather than letting it control us can bring great satisfaction. And, for each little victory, we can celebrate in small ways – each time we take a step toward regaining control of our financial situation. We may have to say “no” to ourselves more often at first, but eventually, we will be able to make the purchases we wanted.
What does long-term mean? Actually, long-term is not all that long and will come by very quickly. We may not have the advantage of those who begin good habits early, but we can all benefit from leveraging the power of compounding -getting money to work for us. We can start the snowball rolling in our favor by putting away money and using the power of compounding over time. Albert Einstein said:
Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world.
We are all living, so we might as well try to live life debt-free, while we’re at it. Remember, it is not about being a miser or socking away money and never spending; it’s about being pursuing financial health. The thing is, most people are saddled with debt, so why not be the new one on the block who is not going down that path?
Overcoming our financial difficulties is possible. We can be in control of our money situation and don’t have to be overwhelmed by financial troubles. As the saying goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time and I believe the same is true for overcoming money troubles. Taking the steps to be in charge can be enormously rewarding. Thinking long-term, having goals, resisting the pressure to buy on impulse and learning to say no to ourselves can be important steps on the way to becoming financially healthy.
Disclaimer: This post is purely for educational purposes. It is not to endorse or facilitate any financial decisions. Before engaging in any financial transaction, you should always consult a professional advisor. I am not a financial advisor, nor a legal advisor. I do not offer financial or legal advice.
Have a great day!
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca