Money is the root of evil, and it can’t buy you happiness; who hasn’t heard these and similar sayings? Throughout history and across cultures, people have disdained those who value money above all else.
From Shylock the Jew to Ebenezer Scrooge, we cast them as villains. Real-life figures such as Jakob Fugger and John D. Rockefeller were widely criticized during and after their lives to pursue wealth to extremes. Money has historically been associated with sin; those who capitalized on it were seen as evil.
But at a traditional funeral service, when we celebrate both a person’s accomplishments and how they gave support to their loved ones, we overlook the importance of money. Without sound financial practices, our ability to achieve and to provide for our families is handicapped.
Many people take it to another extreme; they disregard financial management entirely. It becomes something that is beneath them. In taking this approach, they ignore the value of money as something that enables a better quality of life.
Have a positive outlook
If you’re struggling with your finances, you probably need to change your attitude towards money. And financial management is a multi-faceted skill. It benefits from a systematic and deliberate approach, instead of picking up haphazard tips from the internet or less-than-reputable sources.
This change begins with your outlook on finance. You need optimism to believe that you can change. If you’re having difficulty making ends meet, you might be surrounded by several negative factors. Jobs can demand too much effort on your part for too little reward; they might not be aligned with your values or passion.
Since the rich tend to stick together, people you associate with frequently, from co-workers to family and friends, might be in a similar situation. That generates negativity, which tends to rub off on each other. It increases the risk of falling into bad financial habits, such as impulse shopping, after-work partying, and generally not giving sufficient weight to the need for tomorrow.
Start improving your attitude by cleaning up the various influences in your life. Distance yourself from negative thinking. Unfollow brands and people on social media if they are bombarding you with temptations to spend. Moving from a difficult financial situation to one of stability is an uphill battle; you hardly need to be surrounded by things that pull you down.
Develop the necessary skills
Next, financial literacy is the set of skills we need to develop to improve at managing money. And it’s a combination of math and mindset. You have to interpret the data points in your own life and come up with an analysis to guide you in making the necessary adjustments. But you also need the discipline to see these changes through each day.
If you’re in debt, whether it’s due to student loans, excessive credit spending, or paying for a car or mortgage, you aren’t just in the negative. You’re continuing to ‘bleed’ financially due to cumulative interest. The math tells you that it’s not enough to run a budget that lets you live paycheck to paycheck. You need to be able to set aside money that pays off that interest, and then some.
Whatever you’re currently doing isn’t enough, so you have to find more ways to control spending. That might come down to how you handle your disposable income. But it could also be a matter of the cost of living; are you living in a city that’s too expensive relative to your job? Facing that reality can be difficult, but it could be the only way to confront the real problem and decide to move somewhere more affordable.
Pass on what you know
Finally, we all need to consider the issue of financial socialization. This involves how we learn and acquire financial literacy. It concerns not just ourselves and the present, but the future and those who will follow us.
No matter if they have long since mastered their finances or are currently learning to bring them under control, parents should also strive to teach their children. Even if you don’t have kids, you probably exert influence as a mentor, friend, or role model to younger people.
As you mature, you can help others to grow and engage in more responsible practices. The knowledge you’ve acquired through hard-won experience and trial and error can be passed on to others facing your previous predicament.
And in the process, you can change their attitudes toward money. It’s not something to be worshipped or feared, but merely understood and used wisely to enjoy a sustainable quality of life.