What’s Your Financial Attitude Pt. 3

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by Pat Hodges

What’s a Comfort Zone?

Have you ever noticed some people seem to stay stuck in a certain place in their lives, maybe even making the same exact mistakes over and over again without seeming to being able to learn from them, or maybe you’ve seen people stuck in a mentality they can’t seem to change. More often than not this is a type of a “comfort zone”. Take the proverbial bachelor (male or female) who repeatedly chooses the wrong type of person to get romantically involved with. We often see this with repeated abusive relationships; the person gets out of one abusive relationship, just to eventually find themselves in another abusive relationship. Why does this phenomenon happen over and over? It can often be a “comfort zone”.

Several years ago I met Jennifer (names have been changed to protect true identities). She had been in a extremely bad relationship previously, in-fact she’d had a whole string of bad relationships. But then one day she met David and they fell in love and eventually got married. In the early stages of their marriage Jennifer would purposefully go out of her way to try to start arguments and fights with David. David, being the type of person he was, would refuse to argue or fight. This would only infuriate Jennifer even more and she would do and say even more outrageous things to try and initiate a fight. All the while David would find himself retreating emotionally from the one he loved. This further provoked even more outbursts from Jennifer. The day came when David was at his wits end, and he brought up the subject concerning his wife.

After going into frustrated detail concerning his wife’s behavior I asked him point blank if he knew any details about his wife’s home life as she was growing up. He stated that from what she told him, her home was in an uproar most of the time, chaos and conflict were the norm and she never knew when her father was going to fly off the handle over the smallest of issues. Suddenly the realization of what was underlying her outbursts hit me. She was accustomed to and quite comfortable with ongoing conflict in her relationships as that was all she’d known in her home as a child. To her, conflict was a part of a “normal” relationship and on going conflict was her comfort zone. With the absence of strife she felt totally out of her element and very uncomfortable.

Comfort zones can play a huge part in finances also. Ask yourself this, “what account balance am I comfortable with keeping in the bank? $2000, $1000 maybe $500 or less? How about almost $0? Maybe you’ve never even thought of it. I can tell you this, if you analyze your average monthly balance over 6 months to a year, that average amount is right where your comfort zone is. If you’re averaging $2000 that’s your comfort zone, if you’re averaging $500 that’s your comfort zone . . . believe it or not, for many it’s almost $0. For many, their comfort zone is barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. As soon as they perceive they have over and above whatever amount that is their comfort zone, they’re out spending the “surplus” as fast as they can. I’ve seen this same pattern in my own finances, once I stepped back and really took a look at it. I was shocked! My personal comfort zone at one time in my life had been “up to my eyeballs” in debt and with hardly any money in the bank come payday.

Change Your Comfort Zone

If you aren’t happy with where your financial comfort zone is, you can change it! Yes, I said YOU can change it. It isn’t up to your spouse, your best friend, your parents or your banker. It isn’t even up to God! The power is with you! For us to really change our comfort zones, it requires discipline . . . and not necessarily the kind of discipline one might expect. Of course the spending habits have to change, but a change must come before even that. There must be a change in the mindset about your financial condition and position.

Start daydreaming . . . start picturing yourself with more money in the bank than what you’re presently comfortable with. I’m not referring to suddenly thinking about millions in the bank. How about starting with $100 to $150 if you’ve been living too close to the edge of $0. If you’re accustomed to keeping $1000 to $1500, step it up a notch and start daydreaming about there being a consistent balance of several thousand dollars. when you daydream about it, try and get a sense of how it would feel to live life everyday without the nagging thought in the back of your mind, “If I spend this amount of money, I’m going to be almost bankrupt until payday.” Start imagining yourself with more than enough finances to get you through to the next payday. In fact, start seeing yourself in your minds eye with money left over in your account when your next paycheck arrives. It could be $50, $100, $200, $500 or even several thousand!

Be realistic, but make sure that amount, whatever it may be, is beyond your current comfort zone.

Every comfort zone we have begins in our core beliefs. Every decision we make in life and our finances begins in our core beliefs; what we believe concerning our world round us, our present circumstances, our future and what we believe concerning ourselves . . . all of it originates from our core beliefs. Whether right or wrong the core beliefs we hold to affect every decision we make and how we live day to day.

If we want permanent changes in our finances, it requires that we change on the inside, not just in what we do or don’t do.

Stop The Impulse Buying

Much has been already written on this subject by others, so I won’t deliberate on it a whole lot except to say that impulse buying is nothing more than emotional buying. Maybe you’re having a rough day and need an emotional “pick me up”. You go down to the corner store and grab a Snickers and a Coke, or maybe you go to a clothing store and buy a new outfit . . . ahhh . . . that feels better, you tell yourself. But your wallet and budget suffer for it. Mix the credit card into the situation so that the bank account doesn’t immediately suffer and without realizing it you’re potentially digging a bigger hole yourself.

I realize the Snickers and Coke won’t do the harm immediately, but habitual impulse buying sure will! Keep it regulated and under control.

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