By Pat Hodges
What Controls Our Money Habits
The subject of money habits can be a very lengthy and involved subject, however in this post we aren’t even going to attempt an exhaustive write up on the subject. We will go over some key factors when it comes to our money habits.
First up, many of us get the basic foundations of our money habits from our parents or other authority figures in our lives. If our parents tend to have expensive tastes, more than likely we will too. If our parents were tight with their spending habits, more than likely we will have the same tenancies. If our parents found it difficult to live within an established budget, we will too. If overspending was an issue with our parent’s more than likely we will struggle with the same thing.
The good news is even though we may find ourselves following in our parents footsteps, we can change! Some of the key how to’s in bringing changes will be addressed later.
Circumstances are another defining factor that can dictate our money habits. If we grow up in an insecure environment, with numerous geographical moves or unsteady employment in the family or maybe the vocation of the breadwinner in the household had a feast or famine dynamic to it. There may have been the issue where our parent’s struggled with correctly prioritizing where the money needed to be spent. They might have put discretionary spending over bills, such as going out to eat and going to movies rather than paying the electric bill or even making the car payment. All of these factors affect money habits. Our experience with money forms not only our money habits, but invariably form our financial attitudes as well. Our attitudes about money stem from our thoughts about money, both conscious and unconscious thoughts.
What’s Your Mindset?
Proverbs 23:7(a) says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . .” in other words if a person thinks of themselves as being poor (regardless of how much money they have or don’t have) they will act poor with their money. They have what I call a poverty mindset. I’ve even seen the wealthy with poverty mindsets.
A poverty mindset can manifest any number of different ways. Years ago, I used to work in the field of personal protection for those who had considerable wealth. Some were famous, others were not famous. The interesting thing I noticed was with certain people, it didn’t matter how much money they had they were always thinking they didn’t have enough. I worked for millionaires and billionaires that had that mindset! The poverty mindset says, “I’ve never had this therefore I deserve it, regardless of the cost or amount of debt it’s going to put me in”. This is how “overnight” millionaires wind up dead broke in a matter of a few years. We’ve all heard stories about how people have won the lottery and in a matter of years they’re right back where they were financially before they won the lottery. How does this type of thing occur? It doesn’t just happen. There are mindsets and attitudes about money involved that bring about wrong actions, wrong decisions and wrong ways of handling money.
On the opposite end of the spectrum I’ve seen those who had limited funds that didn’t have a poverty mentality at all. Even though their funds were limited, they never walked around wringing their hands, sitting up all night worrying about how they were going to make their bills, but lived comfortably within an established budget, not buying or going into debt up to their eyeballs because they were trying to keep up with the Jones’ or buying vehicles they could not afford to maintain, or buying real estate they could not afford to pay the property taxes on. Instead, these individuals exercised great wisdom with the handling of their finances and as a result, they visibly were enjoying life more that some of the ones who had boatloads of money.
So, here’s the question. What is your mindset and attitude? Are you one who worries over your lack or even over your prosperity? Do you lay awake at night fretting over what you’ve spent, or how you’re going to pay that next bill because of your misappropriation of your money. Or are you the person who lives within a realistic budget regardless of your prosperity or lack of it, and has learned how to use wisdom in the handling of your finances?
In the next blog installment, we’ll be addressing comfort zones and how to go about changing that poverty attitude and mentality that you may be living with.