Money is a tool to sustain life, it is not good or bad, money is amoral. More money can create problems or it can solve problems. It’s all how you manage it. Ask yourself why do you think about money the way you do. Was it the influence of your parents or whoever raised you, was it one pivotal moment in your life that forever changed the way you think about money?
I’m going to tell you some factors that might have negatively influenced the way you think about money. Maybe one of these factors might hit home with you. Then we will talk about how you can change your relationship with money. It takes perseverance and hard work but it can be done. Changing your mindset can start you on the road to paying off debt or saving for something important like a home or a business. Can you Transform your Negative Relationship with Money?
Family has a huge impact on the way you think about money as an adult. Did you have?
- Family that was overly frugal, never allowing spending just for fun. So you feel guilty anytime you spend money on anything for yourself.
- Family that spoiled you and made you feel entitled to things.
- Family that never talked about money with you so you never learned how to handle money.
- Family that fought in front of you about money problems so you have negative, even painful feelings towards money.
- Family that constantly struggled to keep food on the table and clothes on your back.
- Family that was in debt just to keep up appearances to friends and relatives.
- Family that didn’t save for retirement and now you are watching them struggle.
I’m not trying to throw parents and family under the bus. Our parents did the best they could with the tools they had. Maybe they were never taught to handle money so how could they teach you all the right things to do. I am a parent and I constantly wonder if I’m modeling the right behavior towards money. Is my frugal nature going to cause my child to have an unhealthy relationship with money later on? Will she want to spend out of control because we spent our money very carefully. It’s hard to know what to do and not do so our children don’t end up in therapy for the rest of their adult lives.
Other factors that can presently influence money decisions:
- Maybe you are just done! You are so tired of living paycheck to paycheck. Are you preoccupied with the fact that you have thousands of dollars in debt and you don’t know how you are going to pay it off. You are stressed and don’t sleep at night because you wonder how you are going to pay the bills.
- Are you unable to delay gratification? You would sacrifice paying bills right now to get something that you want right now. You’ll worry about the consequences later.
- Do you avoid saving for retirement because it’s “so far away”? Maybe you are thinking that you will get some kind of inheritance to fall back on so you don’t need to worry about saving for the future. Do you think about your parents, they didn’t save for retirement and they are just fine on Social Security.
- Are you doing what everyone else is doing. Everyone else has credit card debt, it’s just what you do. All my friends and family have debt but they are still ok. I don’t have to make a decision to change because no one else is and they are still surviving.
Can you see how experiences in our lives reach their way into our current situations and decisions that we make every day? Let me just say, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO. As adults, we can make a conscious effort to change our negative mindset about money. We can be informed and educate ourselves to get the tools we need to make good money decisions. We can stop punishing ourselves for mistakes we’ve made and stop blaming whoever had a negative influence on us when it came to money. When you know better you do better so we just have to work on the “know” part. Confide in a friend, a good friend that has healthy money habits and that won’t gossip behind your back. If you put it all out there then there are no more secrets and you have to be accountable.
You might have to have a family meeting and tell everyone that you will not continue the cycle of unhealthy money habits. They can either support you or you might have to do it on your own. If you have a group of friends that goes out every Friday and Saturday night for dinner and drinks you will have to say that you are working towards a goal that will improve your future. You won’t be able to join them but if everybody wants to get together at someone’s house for a night in then you are all for it. Transforming your relationship with money won’t happen overnight, it will be hard to unlearn all the bad habits.
How do I start?
Write down your financial goals! Do you want to pay off debt? Do you want to save for a home? Do you want to send your child to college? Goals help turn your needs, wants, hopes and dreams for the future into something concrete and achievable!
Let’s get specific:
Get a copy of your credit report, this is the real Credit Report Site, it is called Annual CreditReport.com. Every 12 months you can get a free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting company, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Start going over everything on your credit report. If it’s wrong get it fixed. If you find items on your report that you don’t recognize, do some research to find out if it’s something you really owe or maybe it’s a mistake. Clean up your credit report as much as you can. It can be a very slow process, you might have to wait a long time for people to get back to you but it’s something that has to be done. Having good credit is the key to everything!
Now you need to get real with your situation. Write down every bill you have, include EVERYTHING. Even if you have student loans that you aren’t paying on or you have stuff in collections. Put that number on paper, that giant, scary, evil total of everything you owe. Once you get it all out in the open it’s not as scary. Not knowing and worrying about how much you owe is worse than actually seeing the number on paper. It can’t get worse than that!
Stay in contact:
Once you get things sorted out start contacting the accounts that are in arrears. I’m talking about credit cards, student loans or medical bills, or old bills that are in collections. At least call them and tell them that you know you owe them money and you are working on a plan. Maybe you can’t pay them anything right now but at least stay in contact with them. You could even negotiate a deal with them that you will pay $5 a month, anything is better than nothing and it shows them that you are taking responsibility for your debt. If you are struggling to pay the monthly bills, power, rent, mortgage……at least call them and say I’m struggling right now. They are usually more understanding and flexible when you call them to let them know what’s up instead of just not paying and ignoring their calls.
Expense tracking is the key:
You should be expense tracking this whole time. Write down every bit of money you spend every day down to the last cent. It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking 2 bucks here 5 bucks there doesn’t make a difference. Expense tracking tells you where your money went, it’s like looking into a mirror. Save every receipt, which includes grocery, gas, coffee, eating out, copays, prescriptions, don’t leave anything out. If you don’t get a receipt write it down in a little notebook that you can keep with you or in the car.
I’ve written a few articles that have really great ideas to help you get out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle and to start saving:
If you have figured out your monthly bills and if you have been expense tracking you should know what amount goes out every month. That should include the 4 Walls. The 4 Walls are the necessities you need to live. Food, Shelter, Clothing, Transportation to and from work. You should have an entire list of spending categories that pertain to you, it should also include putting a certain dollar amount into savings. Every bill and every dollar you spend in a month should be in one of those categories and when you add them all up then you know what you spend in a month.
I don’t really promote a particular budget. Whether it’s an excel spreadsheet or the envelope system or just writing it in a large notebook using a new page for every month. It doesn’t have to be complicated, if you put the dollar amount that you spend in a month next to the dollar amount you make in a month, it will be clear as day. If you spend more than what you are bringing in then you have 2 options. MAKE MORE or SPEND LESS, it’s as simple as that.
Make More and Spend Less
If you can make more that is great, side hustles seem to be a way of life for a lot of people these days just to get by. You should not be using credit cards to get by, if you have to use credit cards you are going backward instead of forward. Look at your list of categories, go over every single category especially if it’s discretionary spending. You should have a category for buying food at the grocery store and a separate one for eating out. If that eating out number is out of control put a limit on it, make meals at home. Here is an entire page of $5 Meal Ideas to feed your whole family.
It’s your money so it is going to be your responsibility to decide what categories can be reduced, what can be cut out altogether. Less on entertainment less stops at convenient stores for energy drinks or coffee. More spending in categories like credit cards or student loans and savings! Cut out clothes shopping unless absolutely necessary, cut out subscriptions to magazines, music, tv, and movie streaming.
I’m not going to tell you what to do with your money, you have to make all those choices to cut out the excessive spending. All I can say is that you have a chance to do better and if you have children you have to model a good relationship with money so they can have healthy money habits. Let go of all the old negative talk and memories. You have a fresh start every day and when you educate yourself then you have the tools to do better. I said earlier when you know better you do better.
Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s, the Jones’s are probably in debt.
Stop feeling like you have to keep up appearances, all those other people are probably in debt up to their eyeballs to keep up their appearances. Learn delayed gratification, you don’t need to wait in line for the newest iPhone. Keep using the phone you have until it dies. Meanwhile, you have been putting money away so you can buy that new phone when your old phone conks out.
It has to become a mindset, I can give you tips but the change has to happen with you. I promise you will be happy with less, you will feel proud of yourself for paying off debt. You will be excited when you see your emergency savings fund grow. You will feel less stressed and more in control when you have a plan in place. Keep going, don’t quit. You can do this!!!!!!
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