How to Solve Financial Problems by Changing Your Attitude About Money
- Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Carrie Rocha's new book, Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes that will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make (Bethany House, 2013).
If you’re struggling to manage your money well but can’t seem to change unhealthy behaviors such as spending too much and saving too little, there’s hope. You can solve your financial problems by looking beyond your behaviors to the attitudes behind them – and then relying on God’s help to change those attitudes to ones that reflect His wisdom.
Here’s how you can solve your financial problems by changing your attitudes about money:
Overcome the “If only I had more money” attitude. Although it’s natural to want more money when you’re experiencing financial problems, it’s important to keep in mind that simply getting more money won’t solve your problems. You could have a lot more money fall into your life (from a large tax refund to a generous Christmas gift) and yet still get into financial trouble if you don’t change the way you manage money. What’s important isn’t how much money you make, but what you choose to do with the money (of any amount) that you have. So shift your focus from changing your income to changing yourself. Ask God to show you what unhealthy behaviors you need to change (such as over-spending, under-planning, over-borrowing, and under-saving) and to help you change those behaviors by changing their underlying attitudes. Take personal responsibility for the financial mistakes you’ve made in the past, and learn from them. Choose to forgive yourself for your mistakes, and to forgive other people who have made financial mistakes that have impacted your life. Look forward to a healthier financial future.
Overcome the “I deserve a treat” attitude. This attitude drives you to make impulsive purchases to reward yourself for hard work or give yourself some other emotional gratification, such as comfort or stress relief. Realize, though, that habitually buying things on impulse wastes lots of money as your small expenditures add up to large amounts. The money that you currently spend impulsively to splurge on little treats (from candy bars or cups of coffee to new outfits or gadgets) can help you save up toward more meaningful purchases that would add much more value to your life. Spend some time reflecting on what you’d most like to spend your money on, and why. Clarify the dreams and goals you’d like to pursue once you’ve saved enough money for them – and then remind yourself of those dreams and goals, to motivate yourself to refrain from impulsive spending and allocate the money you would have previously spent frivolously to savings instead.
Overcome the “It won’t happen to me” attitude. It’s tempting not to think about emergency expenses until you must deal with them, but since life is unpredictable, you’ll inevitably have to deal with expenses that you didn’t expect – from car or home repairs to hospital bills for emergency room visits. Rather than go into debt when emergency expenses hit, you can manage such expenses well if you’ve saved for them in advance. Work to set aside at least three to six months of income in an emergency savings fund. As you do, keep in mind four different financial priorities: regular bills (which are both urgent and important), goals (expenditures you want to plan for within the next year that are important but not urgent, such as vacations), leaks (impulse purchases that seem urgent but aren’t important), and wastes (expenditures that aren’t either urgent or important, such as money spent on alcohol or gambling). Anticipate the approximate financial cost of important purchases you want to save money for, and then set specific savings goals for each of them.
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