The decisions that we make with respect to our money are based on habits that we develop, which in many cases are passed down from generation to generation. The habits are often caught, rather than taught. We saw certain behaviors modeled, and we unconsciously emulated those behaviors. If your parents were spenders and focused primarily on materialism, you are probably doing the same. If they were frugal and intentional about the way they spent their hard-earned money, you are probably doing the same. Regardless of where you stand today, it is possible to change. However, unfortunately for most people, the behaviors are so ingrained that things don’t often change until pain is experienced. The pain can be in the form of things such as financial distress after a job loss or carrying a large amount of debt and realizing that you are in over your head financially.
Poor money habits don’t just affect us. They are also apt to impact the people that we love. This can lead to problems for the family in the form of not having enough money for essentials such as food and healthcare. I have heard stories about the tendency of people to purchase homes they could ill afford justifying the decision by saying that a house is a good investment. All the while there was little furniture in the beautiful homes. When they entertained, some times they rented furniture. What impact would witnessing behavior such as this have on those in the household?
If you are not willing to make the effort to break conditioning for yourself, do it for your children. They deserve a great start in life and this can occur if they have a proper view of money and how to manage it well. Financial literacy can bring a sense of peace and joy. To help others, we must begin by helping ourselves. Here are a few steps that can help to identify your money mindset and make the necessary adjustments if they are needed.
What are my current behaviors and what impact are those behaviors having on the people around me? To get a good understanding of this, take time to reflect, look at your checkbook register or credit card statements. I often encourage clients to track their spending over a period of time and to complete a net worth statement, (assets minus liabilities). You can also request feedback from someone who knows you well and is willing to be honest with you.
This is often the most difficult step. As human beings, we are quick to resist change. That is true even if we know that our behavior is detrimental. It takes a level of humility to admit our weaknesses or failings. One thing that can be helpful is to gain an understanding of the impact that your habits are having on others, including those you love.
Decide and move forward. Set a goal and write out the steps that you need to take to achieve it. Be sure to establish time frames. Good examples might be committing to cut up a credit card by the end of the week or making an effort to pay cash for the majority of your purchases.
This occurs when one continues to take an action until they become unconsciously competent at this new behavior. For example, if you utilize cash more often than credit and become more judicious about how you spend, over time the behavior may just become your new normal.
Positive financial conditioning is achievable. It is important that we not mirror our parents or others that we’ve known in our lives, who made poor financial decisions. We can get control of our finances and build positive money habits. Some of the rewards for doing so are less stress and more joy and peace of mind. Another wonderful benefit is that we can become positive influencers and perhaps, mentors to our children and others whom we know. This can lead to a much-needed transformation in our homes and communities. Let’s work to change our behaviors and the conversation about money. It can benefit us and those we love, lead and serve today and for generations to come.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Kelly Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.