An Attitude for Change

Changing your money behavior so that you can win long term may not be as difficult as you think.

It requires accepting a few basic premises:

  • I can give up something I want now in order to achieve a more important goal later.

Many of us have allowed the marketers of the world to weaken our self-discipline muscle. Some poor souls among us have never been forced to exercise it, not even as children. We have to find this muscle and strengthen it. The same “I want it and I want it NOW” thinking that has caused us not to win with our finances in the past, will undermine our transformation if we allow it. “Later” is a word we need to embrace.

  • Lots of little victories can add up to a big win.

Most people are far less successful financially than they could be, simply because they are unintentional with their money. We can achieve our goals by making lots of small changes in our lifestyle. Quit hoping for the one big win and start collecting small victories.

  • Most people (not you!) are financial losers.

Once you’re on a plan you may find “everyone” around you goes out to eat anytime they want. They also drive cool cars and take great vacations. You’ll have to remind yourself that despite their appearance, most of these people are broke. They are deep in credit card debt; they don’t have an adequate emergency fund; they aren’t saving for their children’s education or for their own retirement. In other words they are not who you want to be.

If you can accept these premises, there is no reason for your financial transformation to be painful.

Shiny Things

The constant desire for new stuff can be our undoing while trying to build wealth.  Unlike the crow, you were not born with an attraction to shiny objects.

Marketing is powerful.

The car you thought you liked last week becomes the car you can’t wait to replace when you are inundated with ads for the newer cooler model. Every new tech toy captures your imagination, becoming the one thing that would make you happy. Not one of the 33 pair of shoes you already own will do for Saturday night, once you catch a glimpse of the latest Jimmy Choo’s.

Marketing is powerful and if there is any hope of you controlling your own life you must be prepared to fight back with some formidable strategies of you own.

Long Term Strategy: ALWAYS

Always have a plan and a goal for your money. Make both the plan and the goal specific and measurable. Having an overall plan helps you resist temporary temptations.

Once you have lived for a while with your long term goals in place, you will find in becomes much easier to be very intentional with your spending.  But until then, give these three mini-strategies a try.

Mini-Strategy One: Blow $

Set up a blow budget; allow yourself a fixed amount of money every month that you don’t need to account for. But do not spend over this limit.

Mini-Strategy Two: Wish List

Keep a list of things you want. Don’t buy anything that’s not on the wish list unless it can be paid in full from your blow money. Having a wish list forces you to consider an items worth to you relevant to other wish list items. Prioritize your list and create a goal in your account or put a jar on the kitchen counter or set aside a little extra in your savings account for the desired purchase. Make a chart tracking your progress and hang it on the wall. Wait until you’ve saved enough to buy your wish list item. You’ll be surprised how fast you can save for something you want, once you’re focused.

Mini-Strategy Three: Cooling off

Set a hard and fast unbreakable cooling off period before you buy, even if you have the cash. Wait 24 hours for decisions less than $50, a week for less than $200, a month for $500. After the cooling off period, if you still want it and you can pay cash for it and it’s the number 1 item on your wish list, go for it!