Every once in a while, I come across posts that really help me change the way I think about certain things. Sometimes, the hardest part about changing the way things are to make them the way you want them to be is changing your current and past way of thinking. This post, Change Your Money Habits by Changing Your Money Story, written by Alicia Adamczyk of LifeHacker was one of these posts for me this morning. Lately, I have been trying to change my relationship with finances. I realize now that, even though I partly come from some very thrifty stock, I don’t have the healthiest view of money and finances. I just wrote this post about having one trick to stop spending money, not because I just started this site, but because I just now started realizing that I don’t have as much control over my spending as I thought. I guess I am not as impervious to advertising as I thought!
I know that you, like me, are not wealthy yet. If you are wealthy, you really don’t want to read this blog. That’d be like Ryan Gosling asking for advice about the ladies from literally anyone else on earth. Then again, I am pretty funny. So maybe you do… Anyways, starting out from a position of weakness in life isn’t always the best feeling. When we’re talking about money and wealth, being broke can make you feel like a real chump or chumpette. When you feel like a chump, you don’t exactly have the confidence you need to make the best decisions, so what happens is you end up making decisions based on emotion. When you make a decision based on emotion, it becomes MUCH easier to be swayed by the opinions or suggestions of other people, particularly powerful, wealthy, or popular people. That is what our whole society is built on, really; selling things to one another.
The problem for us fellers down here on the lower end of the financial spectrum is that, when it comes to financial decisions, we make bad decisions fairly easily and that leads us directly into more bad financial decisions. We might say things like, “Well, I only have $600 coming in on my next paycheck, and $400 is going right to rent, so it doesn’t make any sense for me to save anything until I make more money.” But that’s not the right way to think about money. Even if we would only retire with a couple tens of thousands of dollars in a retirement account, that doesn’t make it any less worthy to attempt to do our best at saving something. A little bit is better than nothing. And changing your mind to value even a little bit is going to have a big impact on how you view the rest of your finances.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Money is from from the only thing that I have a negative mindset with. I know for sure that I am harder on myself, internally, than anyone else would ever be on me, internally or not. But when you always have negative thoughts, you start to become a negative person. And don’t nobody want that shit. For real, don’t be a negative downer bringing other people your problems. People have their own issues to deal with. You don’t like your job? Don’t feel valued? Are sick of traffic? Yeah, so is everyone else. But if you can stay positive and lift people up instead of bringing them down with negativity, you’re gonna be way cooler of a dude.
That also extends to money and finances. If you only have $5000 in your 401k, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world for you to not be a multi-billionaire. You shouldn’t compare yourself to 0.00001% of the worlds population. If you find yourself comparing who you are to a tiny sliver of the population, and that is the only way you apply value to yourself, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Just as in health and fitness or body image, you should never compare yourself to what someone else has goin’ on, you should simply strive to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Focusing on improving yourself changes the way your mind thinks in a lot of ways, but the best way is that it takes away the time you have to be jealous about someone else and it lets you focus on the fact that you have stuff in your own world goin’ on. It also takes you out of the mindset of “Man, I don’t have as much as that feller, so what’s the point?” To instead be in the mindset of “Man, I only have $5000 in my 401k this year, but my goal is to have $10,000 next year!”. That’s a growth mindset, and it’s probably one of the most powerful mindsets there can be!
Couple the growth mindset with a mindset focused on positivity and you’ve really got something there! My wife has one of the most positive outlooks on life and on her situation in it that it’s infectious to everyone around her. She has an ability to lift people up and that increases her ability to influence others around her. Even though small in stature she might be, her attitude makes her quite mighty. And since she isn’t ever worried about how much someone else has, and instead focuses on saving as best she can, she is the one in the marriage with the bankroll to put a down payment on our house and to pay for college out of pocket, two things I would give my left nut for at this point in life!
I think the most helpful thing about this post and reviewing the content therein, as well as doing all of the activities she recommends, is that it brings you to the point of self reflection. I know what being on the lower end of the financial spectrum is like. That’s the whole point of this blog in the first place! That’s why I am the Financial Feller instead of the Finance Grand Master! Aside aside, when you’re on the bottom it can be easy to point the finger elsewhere, but we must also take some moments to point the finger inward. As fellers who are trying to improve our finances, we should also take a good hard look at what we are doing now and how we can change things to get better, day after day.
If I was ever going to recommend anything to help you get your finances on track, it would be Intuit Mint. It’s free, which means you’re the product, but it’s still good to have. Personal Capital is also good, but I feel like that’s geared more towards people who are ballin’ already, as opposed to ballin’ on a (tight) budget. Mint is probably better at tracking expenses and categorizing them for your review whereas PC is maybe better at collecting your investments and providing you with planning and advice about them. Either way, you can’t control your spending if you don’t first know what you’re spending money on!
I don’t get paid shit from either of these sites, so I am recommending them as a user because they have helped me get my finances to a “better” position.