You may want to improve your money management if finance is a source of unhappiness for you. Or if money anxiety stops you from managing your money.
But money management skills are only part of the picture. First, you need to have a healthy attitude towards money.
- What is your relationship with money?
- Do you view success and happiness as being financially rich?
- Or do you think money is the source of evil?
- Is money a constant source of worry for you, no matter how much you have?
- Or do you waste money or even get into trouble by neglecting your finances?
Money – Angel or Devil
If you know you push money away or feel you don’t deserve it consider what you believe about money. Do you think money is the root of all evil? This is actually a misquote from the bible. The actual wording is ‘the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil’. It’s OK to like money for what it can do for you.
Maybe you feel dissatisfied and chase financial gain at the expense of other areas of your life. A salary increase might mean better holidays but what if it means you never see your kids in the evening?
These attitudes create a dysfunctional attitude toward money. Money is a tool to use to meet your needs. It is neither good nor bad. Money is the way you pay for goods and services. It can bring you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy life too.
So take a breath, reflect on your views and think about getting a balanced perspective. Then you can look at the practicalities of how you manage your money.
Money Anxiety and Irresponsibilities
Irrespective of your income do you worry about money? If you do not have enough money to pay your bills then that is a concern. But anxiety about the chance of not having enough in the future is pointless. Likewise, regrets about wasted money will help no-one.
The flip side of the coin, excuse the pun, is either having a laissez-faire attitude or you turn a blind eye to money. You want something, you buy it, you move on. When bills come in you ignore them or procrastinate on paying them. Your money management is non-existent. Apart from the risk to yourself, this lack of responsibility can then impact those close to you.
These behaviours can come from fear or resentment towards money. Your parents may have passed on their views. Or you have rebelled against their frugality or irresponsibility.
But this is about you. And wherever you fall on the scale between miser and hedonist this is about control.
You do not want money to have control over you. You need to identify what you can control about your finances. And you then accept what you need to let go.
And how to do this? Now it’s time to focus on developing good money management skills!
The best way to manage your finances is to budget. It may not be exciting and it does not have to be difficult. This allows you to get a grip on your reality.
And there are many apps out there to help with managing money. Want to go old school? Use a pen and paper. The important thing is, to be honest, stay calm and face facts. And that means examining all your finances.
Your Financial Reality
What essential commitments do you have to make every month? How much income do you have? If the amount coming in is more than must go out then fabulous. You’ve got money to spare.
If these outgoings exceed your income you need to consider your spending habits. And if this includes debts to pay off then you may want to get advice.
And what is essential? Clarifying the difference between what you need and what is nice to have is also important. This does not mean you will deprive yourself of luxuries. It is about being honest with yourself.
Then check that you are not overpaying for your essentials. Don’t forget the invisible costs such as loan and credit card interest rates too. You can check money-saving and comparison sites for the best deals. Take control of this boring stuff. Then review income versus expenditure again.
Not Enough Money
If you still do not have enough money at this point you may want to seek help. Hiding from the truth will not help you. Getting advice is the first step to taking control back.
Do you consider shopping a hobby or buy into the idea of ‘retail therapy’? Do you buy things that you do not need or worse still, never use? There are many reasons you may do this. Society encourages consumerism. You are fighting against advertising that tells you how your life will be better if you spend.
Challenge this mindset. When did you last buy something that made you happy? And how long did that happiness last?
You can shift this desire to buy mindset.
Before you buy anything consider the four points:
- Do I need it?
- Can I afford it?
- Will I use it?
- Is it worth it?
And if you recognise this in yourself and it feels unmanageable then take action. Shopping, like many things, can become an addictive problem for some. There is a rush in finding a ‘bargain’. The more you develop the habit the more difficult it becomes to break. There is no shame in seeking help. You do not have to suffer alone.
Money – You’re the Boss!
One of the easiest ways to ease the burden on your finances is to learn how to spend less and save your money.
If money scares or bores you consider money management as a game or a challenge. It is you vs money or companies that want your money. Use this to fuel your motivation.
One simple challenge is to see how long you can go without buying anything (apart from the real essentials of course!).
And when you think you need to buy something consider alternatives. Get creative. Could you adapt something else? If you are replacing something is there a way to make a good repair? What about pre-owned items?
If you do need to buy things consider price and quality. Look for goods that will last. Again quality and pre-owned may give you something nicer than a cheap throwaway item. Learn to recognise quality, research before you buy.
You may want to consider your impact on the environment too. How can you minimise your carbon footprint? Spending less does not mean that you have to compromise your values.
Money – Your Future
Keep your future in your money management plans too. Knowing that you have taken steps for the short or long term will alleviate some of your money anxieties and show others your new responsible focus.
This can mean putting money aside in case of problems or saving for a pension. Again, there is plenty of advice to be found.
Just remember money is a tool. Use it wisely and don’t let money manage you.