How to control your money instead of it controlling you
Let me start by asking you a few questions. Do you live paycheck to paycheck? Do you feel like you never have enough left at the end of the month? Do you earn a good salary, but never seem to know what’s going on with your money? Do you or someone you know has a problem with hoarding material possessions? If you can say yes to any of these, or you think perhaps a close friend, relation, colleague, or partner is affected, then read on to learn about strategies for wealth.
We need to learn to live within our means, regardless of what income we have, or else we are just getting ourselves into debt aren’t we?! Trust me, I have been in this situation. I was in debt once, partly through suddenly being made redundant and partly through my own fault for being irresponsible with money. Following my redundancy, and throughout student life, I lived on an income of less than £10,000 per year. According to the Rowntree Foundation, this was below the amount required to have a ‘acceptable quality of life’ in the UK. However, I was happy and content (happiness and contentment are two very different things) with my life, despite being on what was considered to be a very low income.
Money and Emotions
Money has a strong pull on our emotions. So, rather than instantly give you a bunch of strategies for wealth, which will supposedly fix all your monetary problems, the first thing to deal with is our emotional connection to money. The strategies for wealth come after we understand what our relationship to money is all about.
We do not need to be millionaires to be content in life. You have probably seen figures or stories in the news media about how many lottery winners are broke within a few years, because they just spent all their money like crazy. In little ways, we can feel like this too. When we spend our money on something trivial, and then regret it afterwards, we feel guilty and frustrated too. This is a good sign – we are having a reaction which shows that we realise we’ve done something wrong, but the important thing is that we do not allow guilt to take a hold of us, but rather recognise the negative feeling and decide to act in a positive way to make our lives better.
A good way to help us get through this is to make a series of small rewards for ourselves. For example, we do not go for a quick beer after work 5 nights a week. Instead, our reward for not going for a drink every day is to have 2 drinks on a Friday when we get home. Little rewards are great because they build up gradually, like getting “merit marks” or “gold stars” in school – once we hit a little target, we get a reward. Then we will look forward to getting the reward, rather than getting the item every day and then feeling guilty about it. We could use a similar example such as dieting. We could go without eating sweets/cakes/chocolate/etc. for 2 days, then have a Wednesday as our treat day, when we are allowed 1 treat. Then we go another few days and have a treat on Saturday.
Having more of things, especially money, will not make us happier. Many of you will have heard the phrase: ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’ (from the Bible). This essentially means that greed/selfishness (the lust for more ‘stuff’, objects, power, money, food, clothes, etc.) is at the core of all evil things. It’s easy to point the finger at politicians who we accuse of being greedy for power, but we act greedily ourselves too, albeit in smaller ways – such as leaving the shopping trolley in the middle of the car park without taking it back to the shelter where it should go (this is a bugbear of mine!). Money is really crucial to our lives, we need provisions of clothes, food, water, etc. and money is what we use to get these basic essentials. So it’s imperative that we have a right relationship with our money, in order to make sure we are responsible and provide for ourselves and anyone we’re responsible for like our children or a spouse. We can also give of our own time and wealth to help others charitably if we manage our own emotions and our relationship to money properly.
Your Money Blueprint
Understanding our relationship to money comes about by understanding our “money blueprint”. This is a concept you’ll find in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (*) by T. Harv Eker (it’s a great little book, I highly recommend it). Essentially, we have a money blueprint which, just like a house blueprint, is a plan of how something should happen. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are all involved. We form our money blueprint through experiences in the past, especially those from childhood. We aren’t born with our attitude to money, it’s taught to us explicitly or implicitly from all the authorities around us such as parents, teachers, our culture, etc. We heard things as children, we saw things, and we remember highly specific events. All these have developed our brain’s programming when it comes to money, amongst other things of course.
Replacing Your Money Blueprint
So we need to investigate and possibly re-write our programming. If we have a dodgy attitude to money, such as living paycheck to paycheck and never having spare, then we need to re-write that programming. We need to think back to what we heard, what we saw, and what specific events we remember from childhood with regards to money. Go ahead and write down your memories. You need to know what you’re starting with in order to know what needs to be changed. As Harv explains it, you need:
- Awareness (of what you heard, saw, specifically remembered;
- Understanding how these affect your financial life;
- Disassociation – these thoughts are not in your genes or bones, they are not part of you and can be replaced with empowering thoughts instead.
This will help you understand why you are where you are and that you can change things. Next you need some practical help.
Practical strategies for wealth
The first practical step in getting our money back under control is to learn about budgeting. This is basic and is the foundation on your new money blueprint. Then you will build on this learning. Here are the different things you will learn:
- Budgeting and staying in control of your money
- Generate passive income
- Spend less on groceries
- Save for your children
- Save for retirement
It’s not especially important to follow them in this order, as long as you start with budgeting first. Once you crack budgeting, savings are the next most important. If you’re struggling on a really low wage, spending less on groceries is one of the easiest ways to reduce monthly expenditure. I took a self-imposed groceries challenge and found it quite easy, although there were some side effects. However, I saved a ridiculous amount of money, so it’s definitely easy to do.
Good luck in your new journey to wealth, and please contact me or comment if you have any questions, observations, or suggestions 🙂