Ten Be-Attitudes for Expense Control
My financial mantra is simple: money management is lifestyle management. Money is inanimate; no one can handle it. Think about it. You use money to implement decisions; is not it? You decide to buy a car, a house, a toy. You use the money only after your conscious or unconscious decision.
How do you choose to buy? Do you look at yourself, your condition, and then select a path? Surely it is your call; you choose when to spend, how you will spend and how much to spend. Money is just the medium, the bridge between you and the merchant.
That’s why you need to focus on managing your choices. So how do you see the lifestyle alternatives? The keys are your ABCs: your attitude, your behavior and your choices. Your attitude is your beliefs, your view of the world. This leads to your behavior and your choices.
It all starts with attitude. If you understand the specific attitudes that lead to poor spending decisions and decide to be aware of them before and while you spend, you will find that you are in control of your behavior and manage your spending more effectively. In popular jargon, you will handle money well.
Here are ten attitudes that will help you develop the right approach to spending, get you out of debt, especially consumer debt, and help you stay debt-free.
1. Be responsible
Accepting that you need encouragement and a periodic nudge to follow healthy lifestyle choices is a healthy attitude. Ask a trusted friend of the same sex to hold you accountable for your good stewardship. Define the role precisely. This person just has to ask you how you are. He or she doesn’t have to know the details of your finances unless you choose to.
Do you know your spending habits? Do you know when or why you spend healthily, excessively, irrationally, impulsively? For three months, track your spending and record the process you follow before spending and your emotions afterwards. Note the areas where your spending seems out of control. Be aware of these vulnerable areas and develop strategies to overcome them – this will allow you to plug these leaks.
3. Be contrary
Do not aim to maintain your neighbor’s high standard of living. Probably, she financed her lifestyle with debts. Just when you catch up, she refinances! Accept where you are and what you have, and grow from there. It’s good to be contrary; above all, it is less expensive than following the crowd!
4. Be creative
Use your creativity, talents to give gifts, especially to family members on birthday, Christmas and other celebrations. Also, consider giving to charity or needy individuals or groups the money you would normally spend on these gifts.
5. Use good judgment
Learn to recognize and manage the conflicts of interest that exist when someone claims to be an adviser, but is a salesperson – insurance agent, mortgage broker, banking representative, non-independent financial adviser. Only you should benefit from the advice received from an advisor.
Always read the fine print. I once read that large print gives, but small print takes away!
6. Be determined
I love Daniel’s determination that we see in the Old Testament book of Daniel 1:8-9. When asked to eat and drink at the king’s table, Daniel resolved not to defile himself; God showed him favor, and Daniel did not eat that food. Likewise, each of us must determine that we will lead a debt-free life and allow God to work in and through us.
7. Be loyal
Debt causes major emotional trauma in the home. Don’t put your household at risk by going into debt. Understand the effects of debt on your family and be true to the trust your family places in you to be a good steward.
8. Be patient
Don’t spend on impulse. When the urge arises, seek God’s direction. Pray, wait up to a week and answer this question: Is this a fleeting desire or a longer term need?
Save to buy all items. For a home, save a deposit which results in an affordable mortgage.
9. Be grateful
Set your expenses below today’s income for a specific period. Ask God to show you how to deliver to His Kingdom the excess income you get during this time.
10. Be thrifty
Always buy with a list; comparison store. Use coupons, but don’t let them dictate your spending. When possible, shop in sales, but again, don’t let the sale dictate your spending.
Decide never to buy when pressured by salespeople. Walk away, if you stay you will spend more than necessary. Remember that you are not saving on a sale; you spend less than the listed price.
Use these attitudes consistently for 30 days and you’ll notice a major shift in how you spend, why you spend, when you spend, and how much you spend. Plus, you’ll be convinced that sticking with them is the way to control spending!
Copyright (C) 2011, Michel A. Bell