Change the Way You Think About Money to Change Your Financial Situation.
If you are in debt there are few things that can change your financial situation better than changing your mind about money.
No, I don’t believe you can just wish your way out of debt. If that were true, I would have been completely debt-free years ago! But I do believe that when you change your mind about the role money plays in your life you can change your financial situation and become happier, wealthier and debt-free.
How does changing my mind about money change my financial situation?
Let me answer your question by asking one of my own: what do you think money’s role in your life is?
Regardless as to what you believe about your money, I argue that if you are in debt, money controls your life. Debts must be paid; therefore, the money you are making is already spent before it hits your bank account. It’s that simple.
If you have already realized this, that’s great. You are on your way to success! If you have not yet realized that by owing someone else money you cannot own yourself, I’m about to give some tough love lessons.
There are many problems with the way we perceive money, and a lot of them are due to pop culture and the competitive nature of life today. You may think you’re immune, but you have probably done at least one of these recently:
- Saw a car and made a judgment about the driver’s financial situation, or whether he has “made it.”
- Felt pricks of envy at a friend or acquaintance’s recent vacation.
- Made a purchase based on the emotional pull of an item that you didn’t really need.
I have done two of these in the last few days alone. Judging others, or even judging yourself, based on material possessions is ingrained in us from a young age. It’s a hard habit to break.
But when you do change your mind, great things start to happen.
You really can change your financial situation just by thinking about money a little differently. Try to answer these three “what if” questions to see if there’s room for improvement in the way you look at money:
- What if you didn’t think of money as a way to secure happiness through the accumulation of material possessions?
- What if you didn’t feel the pressure to compete with others, or prove that you’ve somehow “made it”?
- What if your lifestyle didn’t inflate whenever you received a raise or bonus?
Your financial situation would be changed for the better if you thought about money as a tool you can use to get the lifestyle you want.
Choosing a lifestyle over possessions.
A lot of purchases are tempting because they promise to enhance our lifestyles. A friend of mine pays almost $50 per month on her gym membership, even though a cheaper gym is closer to her. The gym she has chosen is more glamorous than the cheaper gym, with more attractive models and sales people. The gym’s marketing plan is to sell you a slim, glamorous life.
I’ve seen many people purchase cars they can’t afford, often replacing cars that are only 2 or 3 years old. Their new cars promise to demonstrate their success in life; clearly when you are able to switch out your car so often you must be someone who enjoys luxury and can afford to meet your every whim! For some reason cars are a very clear way of demonstrating power and success in our society.
Even purchasing a home can be fueled by a promised lifestyle. The biggest example of society trying to buy an idealized lifestyle, however, is what we fill these homes with. Flatscreen TVs, new electronics, designer clothes, paintings, new furniture — the possibilities are endless. All of these things, whether they’re designed to make our lives easier or more elegant, probably came into your life because of how they made you feel.
Change your financial situation by choosing to support your lifestyle instead of these material objects. For the sake of an example, I will share my ideal lifestyle:
I want to live debt-free so that my husband and I have the ability to choose when, where, and with whom we work. I want to have time to spend with our growing family. I want to be able to say yes to events with family and friends, instead of having to excuse myself early to get to work.
This lifestyle is not possible with my current financial situation, and it is not attainable through the purchase of material goods. It is not attainable just because of the car I drive. Money cannot buy me this ideal lifestyle; it can liberate me from the one I already live.
As I said earlier, you can change your financial situation when you realize that your own mind is sabotaging you. When you change your mind about your money, by resisting the temptation to buy into things that promise you an ideal lifestyle, you can change your financial situation to allow you to actually live this lifestyle.
How to change your financial situation when you are in debt.
The tough-love, no-frills method for how you can change your financial situation by changing your mind in 5 easy steps.
1. Realize that while you owe money to others, none of the money you make is actually yours. You are living off credit.
2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle. If you change your financial situation, is that lifestyle in reach?
3. Identify things you spend money on that are supposed to improve your lifestyle, but don’t.
5. Remember that money is a tool; use it to fix your financial situation by applying the money you were spending on false lifestyle-improvement possessions to debt.
How do you think about money? Do you believe that you can change your financial situation by changing your mind about money?