There’s more to life than money. We hear that saying all the time but for many people money is at the centre of their existence and I believe, rightly so.
If you are thirsty and dehydrated you can think of nothing but water. If you are starving you can think of nothing but food. So it is right to think that when you are out of money or you have money troubles then that is all you can think of.
Poor money management creates tremendous stress. There is stress because of guilty feelings of over spending. There is stress not knowing how bills will be paid for. There is stress in knowing that you are going backwards. This stress is often the basis of many disputes and marriage break ups.
The only way out is to WAKE UP from the CONSUMER NIGHTMARE.
If you are unhappy with your present financial circumstances then you must make changes to your relationship with money or things will not improve or they will get worse.
1. WORK OUT WHERE YOU ARE FINANCIALLY – list everything you have and everything you owe. A total clean sweep – right down to that 10c on your bedside table and the 20c coin in the glove box of your car. Gather it all up and FACE YOUR FINANCIAL TRUTH.
2. LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE – If you are in debt, look around your home and ask yourself ‘was it worth it’. I remember seeing a TV programme once where a finance expert was in someone’s home and they opened up the storage cupboard and just started counting - $30, $25, $75 etc as they were pointing to board games, hairdryers, DVD collections, toys etc. How much of your money is just sitting around in cupboards. It’s a VERY scary thought.
3. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU NOW DON’T HAVE: Think about this- if you have a mortgage and you haven’t paid it off in ten years, ask yourself where that money went that could have been used for extra repayments. The answer is – thrown out! You have spent thousands of dollars that could have got you out of debt on things that you have bought and thrown away. How many clothes do you have that are more than 5 years old ? We buy them then they go out of fashion and we throw them away. We also buy popcorn makers and electric slippers, music CDs, storage baskets, doona covers, computers, TVs, lounge suites. We have them for a while and then they become old, boring and unfashionable…. So we buy new ones. So instead of now being debt free, we accidentally spent the money that we could have put towards extra repayments on …… things that we thought were good at the time.
4. KNOW THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Advertising is seduction. The sooner you understand this, the better you and your money will get on together. Don’t believe what you see. No face cream will make you look younger, no car will improve your life, no office furniture will increase your income. What will really make you feel great is being financially free, having positive relationships and finding your ‘JOY FACTOR’ – that is, something that truly gives you joy in life. Think about why companies offer - BUY NOW PAY LATER type deals. It is because they know that the majority of people don’t pay on time and they will make extra profits.
5. IF YOU HAVE A POOR TRACK RECORD, DON’T TRUST YOURSELF: I have heard people say, I can’t carry cash because I just spend it. In my experience it is a lot harder to part with cash knowing that you only have $30 in your wallet than it is to hand over your credit card and convince yourself that this is a justifiable one off purchase that you will definitely pay off at the end of the month. BE REAL – carry cash and be creative about not using it.
6.BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF: We get into trouble with money because we are lying to ourselves. We won’t accept the cold hard truth that we cannot live our current lifestyle on our current income. It’s as simple as that. If we were HONEST we would think differently about how we spend.
7. RECOGNISE THAT RECREATIONAL BUYING GIVES A SHORT TERM BUZZ: - Sure, it’s exciting when you bring something home from the shops but the buzz wears off, sometimes too quickly and you have to buy something else to get that sense of excitement. – If it were any other substance you were abusing it would be called a drug addiction !
8. START IMAGINING A BETTER WORLD Day dream about what your life would be like if you were debt free. Would it mean that you could take holidays, real, soul renewing holidays. Would it mean that one of the parents could ‘come home’. Would it mean that both parents could work part time. Would it mean that you could stop working to pay for debt and start working in an area that you are passionate about that may mean a lesser salary. Would it mean that you could leave work all together and work for yourself, create your own income or do volunteer work ?
9. WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO TRADE YOUR TIME FOR: If you are working to create income, then everything you buy you have worked for. If your hourly rate is $30 then to buy a $60 pair of jeans you have to work two hours. You may be quite willing to do that. Ask yourself, however, whether you are willing to pay for other things – Are you prepared to work 20 hours per year to pay for cleaning products that you simply pour down the toilet or the sink ? If not, use vinegar and bi-carb. Are you willing to work 26 hours a year to pay for a subscription TV service that you miss most of the time anyway. If not, borrow DVDs from your local library. What about working 40 hours just to pay for the finance charges on your credit card which are in addition to working to pay for the things that you purchased that created the finance and interest charges. Maybe the answer to some of these questions might be ‘yes’ but it’s worth asking the question.
10. PLUG THE HOLES AUDIT: Go through all your bank statements, receipts, bills etc and see where your money goes. Don’t dismiss any small amounts. If you seriously want to make some changes then plug the holes in your ship. The small holes draining away your potential savings could sink your ship. Look at every option and try to work about how to save $5 here and there. You might find cheaper house insurance that cuts $10 a month off your bill, what about grocery savings by menu planning and shopping with a list, what about using cash only when you’re out. How about driving less or changing brands of deodorant, bread or internet provider. There are THOUSANDS of hints and tips waiting for you out there when you are ready to make the change.
THE RESULTS: Having your family budget under control means that you have freedom. You can sleep at night without financial stress. You can spend freely, knowing that you have amounts in spending categories already there in your money tin when needed. If the kids have an excursion, need new shoes, are going to a birthday party or are playing sport, you can be confident that there is money to cover it. You know that planning your meals and squeezing your grocery budget is worth it for the end of year holiday that you have each year. When you have the money aspect of your life under control it frees you up to think about chasing your joy and living a more sustainable, family centered life.