You walk into the store and you see it. It’s that breathtaking pair of shoes that you’ve been eyeballing for months. They’re the right color, size, and guess what? They’re 25% off today! BOOM! There is absolutely no reason NOT to buy them….or so you think.
Sure, those shoes might complete your ensemble, and yes they are discounted below the regular retail price, but the absolute truth is that you’re already $2,500 in consumer debt and you really shouldn’t spend any money whatsoever until you dig your way out. You should really do without the shoes.
Unfortunately, many people’s money mind is not programmed this way. They see something that they’ve been wanting for a long time AND there is a sale on it – this basically spells an immediate buy without another thought. This is the story of a weak money mind. Many of us have it and it often keeps us from getting out of debt and becoming rich.
What Causes Our Weak Money Mind?
When you find an item that you really like (let’s stick with the shoe example) and are tempted to buy before you leave the store, there’s an actual battle going on inside your head. This is the battle between the sensible, logical, forward thinking adult in you, and the no good rotten kid that wants it all right now (or maybe even yesterday).
As you stand there gazing at those amazing shoes, the adult stands on your left shoulder and says,” Yeah…I don’t know about this one, Jimmy… you already have 3 pairs of shoes that look pretty similar to those, and we were really trying to put some money into our savings this month. I realize that they are 25% off, but do we really need these shoes? Probably not.” This is about the time that the kid stomps in (imagine him eating a lolly pop and dirty from head to toe) and kicks the ‘adult you’ in the shin, “Whoa! Look at those shoes! I’ve never seen anything quite like those! AND they’re 25% off? BUY THEM BUY THEM I WANT THEM BUY THEM BUY THEM!”
And, just like the kids you see throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, they almost always get their way. You inevitably give in, buy the shoes and can’t wait to show them off to your friends. All the while, your bank account continues to suffer because of your childish decisions.
So what causes us to do this day in and day out? What causes our weak money mind that continually gives in to our childish desires? First of all, I blame marketing.
Now let’s be clear, not all marketing is bad. I’m marketing to you right now in fact, by “selling” to you my ideas on debt and spending. Just like in this example, sometimes marketing can be good for us. However, it seems that the majority of the time marketing is only hurting our bank accounts.
The retail sector desperately wants to sell you their products, so they begin to study your behavior when products are placed in a certain spot in the store, when there is a sale, when their product is marketed with a famous celebrity, when the sales staff advises the purchase of only that product, etc etc. By following your actions, your tweets, your Facebook shares, and your web searches, companies can find out exactly what it is that will break you, and that’s exactly what they’ll do to sell you their product. For them, this is simply a game to sell larger quantities of their product. But for you, the victim, it strikes me as a repeated malicious act, focused on draining your bank accounts into their pockets. Unless you begin to understand their game, they will beat you. every. time.
2) Your Upbringing
The second, and potentially larger, factor of your weak money mind occurred while you were growing up. Your parents, whether they realized it or not, had a significant impact on your money mind. When you’re a child, you learn by modeling. Your first words were put together by watching your parents and doing as they do. The same was true for walking, and so on and so forth. Is it any surprise then that many of us model our financial actions after our parents as well? If they were big spenders, you will likely be a big spender. If they blew a lot of their money on lavish trips and expensive vacations, then you will probably do the same (or maybe even outdo them). The same holds true for living within your means. If your parents intentionally saved money, were charitable, and retired well, then you will likely model their actions into adulthood.
Just like in AA, the first step to ridding yourself of your demons is to actually admit that you have a problem. If, at this moment, you are already getting defensive, then you almost certainly have problem. And, to be honest, many of us have problems with spending. Even I, the owner and author of this personal finance blog, have had problems with spending in my life. Almost every single one of us have a weak money mind and have the opportunity to improve it. So stop making excuses and take action on the steps below:
1) Use Only Cash – Yes, cash can be annoying to use, but it is extremely effective if we want to know exactly what we’re spending our money on. Many times we don’t understand the impact of our purchases when we use plastic, but with cash we feel the hurt almost immediately. Start using cash and you will understand what it is that I’m talking about.
2) Read a Book – In order to beat those marketers and win at your own financial life, you flat out need to learn more about personal finance. Seek to learn about money behaviors and what it takes to be happy with your money. There are so many great reads out there. If you don’t know where to start, have a look at these:
- The Richest Man in Babylon – by George S. Clason
- The Total Money Makeover – by Dave Ramsey
- God’s Plans for Your Finances – by Dwight Nichols
- The Behavior Gap – by Carl Richards
- The Cash Flow Quadrant – by Robert Kiyosaki
3) Set Long Term Goals – The absolute best way to stop giving into that weak minded kid that sits on your shoulder is to figure out what it is that you want in your future. When you figure out what you want in life, set some long term goals in order to achieve it. If you really want to retire early and move back home near your family, then that is going to take a lot of work. You are going to have to tell that rotten no-go kid in your head “No!” quite a few times. To succeed in this, be sure to plaster pictures of your home-town by the door of your house, in your purse or wallet, and on the mirror of your bathroom. Continually remind yourself of your long-term dreams in order to shut out the short term wants.
4) Use the Power of Technology – No matter how much of a weak money mind we have, technology can often come to our rescue. Set up spending alerts on your credit card and start putting automatic deposits into your savings account each pay period. These two simple actions can go a long way toward accomplishing your long term goals.
Turn Your Weak Money Mind Into a Rich Money Mind
This article has been fairly long winded, but that is because it is incredibly important. If you want to continue being a kid and living for today, then just ignore everything I just said. If, however, you want to change and develop a rich money mind, then this post could be the beginning of something truly great in you. Make a decision to develop your mind today. Listen, read, grow, and change. You’ll never regret that you did.
Are you ready to ditch your weak money mind today?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.