How to Develop a Positive Money Attitude
Do you know how it feels to look at unpaid bills, yet with nothing to pay them for?
I do. Though it happened a long time ago, thinking about them still make stomach form knots, draw perspiration from my forehead and raise my blood pressure a bit. They make me cringe in fear that they might come and pay me another visit.
That experience urged me to write a blog post three months ago hoping that other seniors can avoid the financial mess I was in years back.
And they are many. According to the NCOA (National Council on Aging), one in three Americans, aged 65 and above, cannot afford to pay for their basic needs like food, housing, and health care.
You are, indeed, blessed if you are not one of them. But it doesn’t mean you are exempted from developing a positive money attitude, because no matter how financially capable you are, money is a very perishable commodity. A hiccup in the financial market can evaporate your savings faster than an early-morning dew.
1. Let go of your past financial mistakes:
There is probably no person, dead or alive, who has not made a financial mistake. The best and the brightest have. But they moved on, carrying with them bitter lessons that have guided their future actions.
Not being able to let go is to be a prisoner of the past and a hostage of the future. Developing a positive money attitude is starting all over without any hang-ups of the past.
2. Learn how to value money:
Seneca said, “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
Money is an instrument, a wealth, a resource meant to serve your needs, not to splurge on your wants.
It takes hard labor to earn it, so don’t spend it if its supply will last forever because it won’t. Let it serve you, not enslave you.
3. Don’t compare yourself with others:
Comparing yourself with others is probably one of the reasons that got you into a financial mess. Stop it. Your situation is peculiar to you, not of other people.You have your own needs and wants which are different from theirs.
Besides you don’t know the inner devils they are fighting against each day. You don’t know if you are financially better off than them.
So focus on your own goals, savor on your achievements, adjust your direction if you are veering off course.
4. Develop a budget:
The word “budget” always fill people with dread because it automatically means restrictions. On the contrary, having a budget is freedom.
It allows you to live your life without any financial hassle because you are aware where your money went; you are aware that you have the means to cover for your needs.
Without a budget is like flying blind. And it is very stressful to realize that you have nothing left to pay for an obligation.
Here’s an easy way to do it. Follow the 50/30/20 rule of making a budget. This means using 50% of your earnings for your basics, i.e., housing, food, gas, medicines, etc. Use 30% for leisure, i.e., vacation, special classes, or on a hobby. The rest, 20% for savings. If you have obligations, use that to pay them off before setting up a savings account.
5. Develop good habits:
Once you’ve set the goal of developing good money attitude, then develop habits to support your goal. You cannot just let things happen by themselves. You must make them happen.
One such habit is to develop and budget and track your expenses against your budget. Set a specific time of the day to see how you are financially performing against your goals.
Make it a habit to make a cost-benefit analysis of your purchases. This way, you won’t end up buying something that will just gather dust in your closet.
Another is a simplification of your lifestyle by going “minimalist.” Get rid of things you don’t need. Check your buying preferences and see how you can make substitutions to save a dollar here and there. Start to “trim your sails,” so to speak.
It’s not that you need to save, per se, but it will rid you of the tendency to go overboard with your spending.
6. Develop a grateful heart:
I know how difficult it is to be grateful if you have practically nothing, you are down on your luck, and the bills are piling up.
Yes, it is. But what could a better alternative be? Six feet under the ground?
The fact that you are alive with all your faculties intact, is a good enough reason to be thankful because you can get back into the race.
Developing a grateful heart takes time and practice, just like anything else. But it can be done.
The easiest way to do it is to recite a gratefulness mantra every day.
Here is a good example:
“All challenges are an opportunity for growth and I am thankful for the chance to evolve.”
I got out of my financial mess several years ago through sheer will power (and a little help from a kind-hearted cousin). It strengthened me and made me resolve never to gamble my financial future again on things without a clear end-game.
It instilled in me a positive attitude towards money.
Please share so other seniors with money problems be motivated to make their own strategies.