We all were programmed to look at money a little differently. We didn’t come out of the womb with the knowledge built-in on the way we handle our finances. No, instead we learned from these three things: we heard something, we saw something, and we experienced something. These three things have shaped our view on just about everything in life, however right now we are talking about money, your money.
I remember going to get the mail for my parents as a kid as this was one of my chores. How did I ever survive, right? I didn’t know what the mail meant at the time, but I did know there was a certain envelope that was from the bank Mom and Dad used. This envelope would immediately spark a little fear within me because I knew in a few minutes my Dad would be sitting down at the table, having a heated argument with what was inside the envelope. Again, I wasn’t really sure what was inside that made him so mad, but I subconsciously knew that an envelope from the bank resulted in Dad yelling.
Think about what you can remember as a child. Did money cause fear, panic, anxiety, or an unexplained argument created by a piece of paper inside an envelope? Or, maybe you had just the opposite effect. Maybe in your house growing up, money meant you were going to get a new something or other. Instead of fear, money meant joy because of what it meant to you at a young age. Or, maybe when money entered your house, mom and dad were proud people. Money was a trophy to show they had made it, however lack of money also showed they were once again a failure. I like to refer to this as the the yo-yo money effect. I remember experiencing this in our house growing up. The point to take away here is what we heard, what we saw, and what we experienced with money at a young age has created our feelings about money today.
Let’s take this a step further. How do you handle money? Are you an extreme saver? Do you hoard cash in a can up in your closet? Are you Chicken Little saving for when the sky falls? Is having money a sense of accomplishment for you? Do you feel that you never have enough saved and you are constantly on verge of one big disaster wiping out your entire financial future?
Or, are you the person who can’t carry around cash or you will spend it right away? For you, money actually feels slippery, and if you have any, it is gone. A sale isn’t really a sale unless you are there to check it out, and when you walk into a store they know you by name and even know your zodiac sign. Do you feel the need to constantly get rid of your money? If not by spending it on stuff, do you feel you must buy something for others or give some or all of it away? The actions you take with your money are a direct result of the thoughts and feelings you have about money.
I can tell you that the way I handled money early into my adult life reflected that of a spender. I felt like I always had to have the newest gadget, the nicest truck, the nicest clothes, and the best vacations. I even would pay more for something because I figured if it cost more, than it must be superior. Looking back, I am a lot like my dad with money and my dad is a lot like his dad with money. All three of us are good at making money, but we were even better at spending it….often before the money ever came in. For the three of us, saving meant we would just have to earn more money later.
My wife on the other hand grew up a little differently. She grew up in a family that moved around quite a bit and always seemed to be in a panic mode with money. Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, and suddenly packing up and moving to avoid a late bill. She heard the arguments, she saw the panic, and experienced money in a completely different way. However, she didn’t follow in the same footsteps with her money. She instead did just the opposite and became very good at saving money….and spending it too! You see, sometimes what we hear, what we see, and what we experience, causes us to take opposite action with money based on our thoughts and feelings from earlier in life.
No one handles money perfectly. I don’t, you don’t, and the federal government….well you get the point. However, if we want to be financially free, then we need to do something different. The first step for the 12-steppers is to admit defeat. Admit powerlessness. Admit that maybe my way isn’t working and maybe it has to do with the way we were programmed to handle money. Once you realize this and can step away from yourself for just a moment, you find that you now have hope. Hope, ladies and gentleman, is a powerful thing.
Think about this: What would life look like if I handled money differently? What would life feel like if we didn’t have debt? What could I do and what would I do? As someone who once asked these same questions and now has the answers to those questions….I can tell you it’s better than you can imagine.
So, now that I have you all jacked up on life, where should you start? The best place to start is by getting on a budget because it works every time. If you get on a budget, actually do the budget, and stay on a budget, one thing is guaranteed to happen: you will start to handle money better. Period. I have listened to and talked with countless people who have changed their entire financial future and the number one thing they all say when asked what saved their financial future: The Budget.
I have created a FREE budget for you to start using and winning with. Go to my “Budget” page at the top and read how to use it and download it from the link.
Lastly I leave you with this quote:
“If you don’t change the direction you are going, then you’re likely to end up where you’re heading…”
-John C. Maxwell
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