Take Back the Money – Breaking the Cycle
What comes to mind when you think of the word money? Do you think “I really could do with having more of it?” Do you think of all the bills needing to paid or the things you need to buy, such as groceries and gas for the car? How often do you say “I just can’t afford it?” Does the word money trigger positive feelings or memories, or does it bring up images of lacking, even poverty?
The Money Thing
The money thing” is a struggle for many. One of the main problems or factors is that most of us really didn’t get much of a financial education growing up. We didn’t learn the basic principles and probably learned by trial and error (hit and miss). Many of us grew up with a foggy and somewhat negative idea of what money is, what to do with it and how to keep it.
The reality is that money (getting it and keeping it) really has very little to do with luck and more to do with making good decisions. In fact, financial success does not really depend on how much you earn, but rather on how much you keep from what you earn. It comes down to knowing what to do and then consistently doing what you know you should do.
What Does Money Mean to You?
This is a very important question to ask yourself. We need to clarify for ourselves what exactly money should be used for. If we see it as a pass to do whatever we want indiscriminately, we will have a hard time keeping it. But if we see it as a tool (in the same way as a hammer or snow shovel) to use for things that are important (families, for example), then it will be easier to make decisions as to how to spend it.
Also, we need to need to think of how much time we put into generating money. How many hours, weeks, months do we give in exchange? Time is our most precious resource; it can not be renewed. Money, on the other hand, can always be renewed. Thinking about what money means also means thinking about the cost of time.
Begin at the Beginning
Everything worth doing begins with education. If we want to improve our current financial circumstances, the best way to start is to learn more about basic principals. Getting the right information is the first step. Then acting on the information will bring about the changes you want to see. Information can only take you so far. It is not very helpful if it is not applied.
Who gets the first cut of your pay? Do the bill collectors get the first cut? If they do, it is time to change that. Ask yourself the questions “Am I worth being paid?” and “How much am I worth?” Don’t you think you should get the first cut off the top? What if you took 10% off the top and paid yourself? Think of it this way- if you don’t take care of yourself first, you can not help others. And, you will have more problems keeping up with the other expenses. So, this is the crucial first step: pay yourself first always and consistently.
Have a Vision
It’s not all just about earning and saving money. What is your long-term vision? what are you working towards? Do you have dreams or goals? How much money do you need to accomplish this? What do you want to do with your money? Without a vision or goals, it will be so much easier for your money to just disappear overtime on unimportant things. People who are successful with money have a plan.
Track Your Finances
One of the very basic financial principals is to live within your means. Not doing this will guarantee that you will struggle with money. To do this, you first need to know how much money is coming in (after taxes). The actual income (from all sources) is what is important. Then you need to know what is going out. List all expenses, and, this means all foreseeable expenses Include all payments. Basically, this is a budget.
Now, it is important to track all spending. Write everything down (every coffee you buy, every pack of gum). I like to have a plastic folder with pockets into which I put all bills and receipts for the month. I don’t keep them in my wallet or lying around on a table somewhere where I might lose them. So, in my folder, I have a projected spending column and an actual spending column. It is also helpful to use a budget application to keep track of spending. I use an app, which allows me to track spending and print out an overview of my monthly spending.
Tracking my expenses has been the number one action that has allowed me to have a visual of where my money is going and how much I am spending. I can make comparisons from month to month and really see where improvement needs to be made.
Know What Your Relationship to Money Is
We all have a relationship with our money of some sort. Some of us have a bittersweet relationship and some of us have a fear-based relationship – as in fear of never having enough. For some, money is a complete mystery; they have no idea how to get it, keep it or even how it works. For others, money controls their life – they are always thinking of bills that need to be paid and of how they are just getting by.
A Goal or an Obsession?
Some people have turned money into a monster and it causes anxiety, sleeplessness and basically overwhelms them to the point that they can not function. This can be damaging to their health and their relationships. Other people are so driven by money that all they can think about is how they can make more of it. For these people, success = more money and lots of it. Still, others find that money motivates them to higher achievement.
Limited or Unlimited?
There are people who tend to tailor their ambitions and goals to how much money they have and not strive to reach other goals. It is a tendency o give up and just accept the current situation. On the other hand, there are people who do just the opposite. These people make use of their money to contribute to some purpose greater than themselves and to reach their potential.
A Source of Status or a Source to Fuel addictions?
Some people view money as a way of achieving status or recognition. These people may use their money to pass on their “dominion” to future generations. And, finally, some people use money destructively to nourish addictions or stir up trouble.
One way or another, we all have or have had some kind of relationship with money that has gotten us where we are today.
Money problems may appear overwhelming and it may be hard to imagine a time when we are able to gain some control. In many cases, we have not received the financial education that we need to get a proper handle on money and make it work for us rather than against us. But, just like getting on the health and physically fit path after a long period of inactivity, we can get on the path of becoming healthier in our finances. It’s all about what we think, what we know and what we do with what we know.
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
This blog post was inspired by:
Financial Fitness (The Offense, Defense and Playing Field of Personal Finance), Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward, Obstacles press, 2014