Have you ever thought of yourself as having a love-hate relationship with money? So many of us do! We love having money and we hate to have to think about managing it. And some people ignore it, others feel guilty about having it and even more are stressed about keeping it. So how can we shift our perspective on money in order to form a more perfect union between our income and our expenditures, and stop stressing so much about the outcome?
People say that there’s a fine line between love and hate, yet more and more research supports that true love is not the inverse of its would-be evil twin hate. In fact, experts say the opposite of love is indifference. Healthy relationships are built on respect and clarity, and undermined by volatile uncertainties and stress. So what does that mean in terms of our wealth?
Stop and Set Goals
Well, let’s start at the outcome and work our way back. If you know what you want, you have a much better chance at achieving it than if you don’t—so know your goals. This idea has been stressed by many. In fact, it’s such a universal strategy for success and we all apply it (whether unconsciously or consciously) when we work towards any accomplishment that we’ve intentionally set out to achieve. Knowing the power of this technique, use it to set up your game plan!
What is it that you wish to accomplish in regards to your finances? Focus on the big picture, focus on desires. This big picture can be broken down into two framed images with short and long-term goals. Long term goals will include retirement and children’s’ education as well as life insurance, etc… those expenses that tie into your security blanket and allow you to move through your day to day with the peace of mind that your actions today are ensuring a happy tomorrow. But while that honey pot is so dependent on the actions we take today, it can feel distant and abstract when our hard earned income turned investments or savings is not directly translatable to anything tangible at the moment. That’s why a short term goal such as a vacation or something that brings more direct gratification is so important to have as well. The point is that if we know our goals, we can stay motivated to direct our energy (translated here as cash-flow) towards meeting them. This ties back into gauging our priorities and choosing where we want to invest our money.
Shift Your Mindset and Replace Stress with Strategy
It’s not easy to break the habit of worrying about scarcity and from thinking of money in terms of how scarce it is. Yet, especially when you’re trying to make a change, it really helps to come at the issue from a positive, forward motion angle. Making the shift from scarcity to abundance is the key to success.
When it comes to financial advice available on the internet, you’ll probably come across these two over-arching themes: mental shifts and concrete strategies. They both offer valid information and yet it may feel like you’re wading through two very different types of waters:
- an overly positive, hopeful, mind-hack-type advice pool
- a budgeting, number-crunching, bleak-yet-practical advice pool
So how do we merge those waters and navigate the currents of our personal currency?
Well, we all know that knowledge is power, so by doing a budget, we may begin to look at our income as a direct result of time invested. Hours worked yields currency used to exchange for goods, services, and ultimately experiences. It’s basic econ, right?
By being acutely aware of what’s being invested and earned, we empower ourselves to make conscious choices about our resources. Replace stress with strategy. Our time is our most valuable resource and by considering the true cost of the things that we seek in exchange for our time spent, we will be more motivated to make wise financial decisions. And by recognizing the interrelation between these resources, you may evolve in your own sense of responsibility to yourself—which leads us to the next point…
Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Falter Along the Way!
By setting goals and adopting a strategy to achieve them, you’re good to go, right? Not necessarily. Yes, you’re on the right track but what about when life happens and you can’t stick to your plan?
Unexpected expenses happen: things break, people get sick, and, unfortunately all of these hiccups come at a price. One way to account for these costs and avoid resulting frustration, is to factor extra costs into the budget. But if you can’t do that, remember all that mental shift stuff we’ve been referring to?
Here is were you must remember not to adopt the “screw it” mentality: just say no to the emotionally-charged instant-gratification beast. Take a deep breath and remember the big picture and move forward. We all make mistakes and it’s okay. But avoid the usual reaction of “Well, I blew the grocery budget this month when I got take out twice this week. This month is ruined so what’s another meal out going to hurt?!?”
The more we can remember our goals, the better we can become at staying on track to reach them. When we become clear in our desires, we can take action to cultivate them with vigor and contentment. We reap what we sow so why not begin to plant the seeds for financial success today?