Money is a cultural obsession. Whether we openly accept it or simply silently nod to this reality, money is fundamental to our life.
You must not make money your only obsession, but consider it at its true value, you must therefore consider it as a means to an end; a channel that takes you to a better place than where you were 12 months ago. You should see it as a contribution to your growth and a resource to create an enriched life.
I grew up with a scarcity mentality believing that I had to work tirelessly until retirement and save enough money. This thought underlined practically every decision I made in life. I was left with fatigue from the choices I made, even before deciding how much to spend and what to spend it on, and immense guilt for not getting enough of each purchase or discount. This cycle of guilt and anxiety caused my growth to stagnate for years.
Over the years I transformed my relationship with money and achieved a better balance in my life. Do you want to know what I learned? Here are three age-old principles that can help you reevaluate your relationship with money.
1. Trade money for time
Our lives are busy, and despite the pandemic, our favorite to-do lists are still so long. This makes the time a top commodity. Pick whatever you’re working on: a project report, a side job, a house design, a song production, it often always takes longer than budgeted.
Can we make up the time? The goal here is to make up time so that you can use that time to nurture your priorities, creative activities, or micro-goals for the day. I like to keep things in the scope of one day, as that makes things smaller and more relatable.
A 16 hour day can soon be affected by various things that come our way. Some of these things are on our to-do list and we know they will need our attention, but then there are a lot of unexpected things that show up and take up our time, like unexpected calls, emails, social media. All of these things add up slowly and before you know it, an hour has passed.
So if you start with the assumption that some unfamiliar things are sure to come up and we allot time to them, that’s a great starting point. You could look at the last week and assess how long those things consumed. That helps you get into a proactive mode. Start with the weekly unexpected ratio and your prediction accuracy will be sharper each week.
“Empty pockets never stopped anyone. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.” – Norman Vincent Peale
2. Find the source of your thinking
The relationship we have with money is based on the behaviors we saw when we were little. How our parents, our role models, and that favorite crazy dude got involved with the money issue. Was money discussed at dinner, either in short supply or in excess? Or if you often had to borrow money or lend it to a friend or relatives? Have you ever been asked to pay back your borrowed money? These are just a few nuances of how subconsciously we end up absorbing ideas about money. Not only do we also absorb the emotions, reactions and statements that have been said and lo and behold, they become our rules of engagement with money.
But not all points of view can fit into the architecture of our thought process and ultimately our life. Therefore, it is very important to pause and check who you are getting money advice from.
Money is not an isolated issue but rather highlights the type of life we live, the books we read, the adventures we go on, and whether the tip we leave at a café is accompanied by a smile or a friendly greeting.
If you don’t like the way money supports the decisions of your life, then ask yourself the following question: how did I come to think this way? This question often takes you closer to the source from which the thought took shape and that gives you the choice of whether or not you want to change your relationship with money.
Don’t tell me what your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are. – James W. Frick
3. Cost versus value
Over the years, I began to ask myself the following question: “What value do I get from spending a certain amount of money?” Value = what problem of mine will be solved. Cost = the actual dollars I spend.
I was asking this question while looking at things from the perspective of the dollar amount I was paying. And the size of that figure used to be the deciding factor of whether or not it was possible to spend more or less on a certain type of solution or product.
One could argue that “value” is the degree of improvement you make in your life. Would you pay almost 60% more for a pair of wireless headphones because they don’t tangle every time and you travel well with them? Would I bother saving $ 100 on the best phone or laptop, something I’ll use every day for at least a few years? Will I think twice about helping a friend’s fundraiser? No way.
Courage is something that solves my problem and improves my life. I see it as removing irritants so that I can stop fooling around and dedicate myself to things like working towards my goals or increasing my leisure time.
Our relationship with money is for life. Make it more fruitful and kind by following the guidelines we mentioned today.