My sister has a terrible spending problem. I consider her a one time millionaire. The first thing that she asks when she receives money is “How will I spend it” or “What can I buy?”. Instead, I’m teaching her to ask “How much can I save?” or “How can I make this money grow?”. I’m trying to teach her how to deal with money and I never realized how little she knows and how distorted the mind can be regarding money.
While we were going through her expenses, I noticed that almost everytime, she has some money lent to a friend or an officemate or that she buys things that are unnecessary or that she has the latest brands of so many things. She also goes out a lot and I don’t think she doesn’t spend anything during these times no matter how she attests to the contrary.
I can’t help but realize that one of our problems is the inability to say “No” or to admit that we can’t afford something. This is one of the biggest enemies of financial independence. So long as one is unable to acknowledge and take steps to counteract this problem, the person will simply be running on the treadmill of paycheck to paycheck living.
“I can’t afford it” is a very decent thing to say. A person who can say this is honourable. I don’t think it diminishes him but in my eyes, it elevates the person to his higher self. Saying I can’t afford it takes courage, self-work, self-love and discipline. Initially, it is very difficult but I believe that in the long run, all the efforts are worth it. This is one of the important steps to financial freedom.
The difficulty lies in our inability to distinguish what we have from who we truly are. We equate money, things and status to better selves. I’m not saying that money is not important because money is important. However, money loses value when that is all we have. It loses meaning when all we can show are the things that money can buy.
The real value of money comes from its ability to enhance people’s lives; its ability to give more meaning to people, to educate, to cure, to show appreciation, to comfort, to bring peace and give dignity.
Let us all work on changing our mindsets about money. Money is good and it is a very important tool. Here are some of the things that I have done to nurture my money mindset.
1. Education. Financial education is no longer an elective. It is something that I consider extremely necessary. The ability to become financially independent does not only rest on the amount of money we earn but also in our ability to keep and grow the money. Knowledge on these aspects does not always come naturally to us. No matter how our parents taught us about money, I believe that we still have a lot to learn from other people and that we need to actively seek it out. Read books and invest on seminars and workshops.
2. Be in the company of like-minded people. Financial freedom will only become effortless once we have developed the proper mindset. We need to spend a lot of time developing this mindset. All else follows when we are in the proper frame of mind. Being outside the mindset makes the journey very difficult and often elusive. Staying in the company of the right people strengthens our belief and opens up possibilities that we never thought of. We will thrive and grow in this positive force. This energy is life-giving, health-promoting and wealth-building.
3. Use money to help other people. The real purpose of money is to make life better. After we have reached a certain threshold, the amount of money becomes unimportant. Helping other people does not necessarily mean giving to charity but may be facilitating other people achieve their own wealth as well. The best defense against poverty is not by giving alms to the poor but in building a person’s capacity to provide for himself.