How to Control Your Money (Without Letting Your Money Control You)
Long gone are the days when humans used to trade a pair of oxen for 10 bushels of wheat, a tunic, and a hoe. Money is that driving force that makes the modern world go round. Love it or hate it, it’s the key factor to many of the things that keep us alive and ticking, from health insurance and transportation to food, clothing, and the other staples of life.
But just because money is a critical element of everyone’s lives these days doesn’t mean it has to dictate who we are. It’s hard to remember this at times, but at its root, money is nothing more than a tool. And, as any seasoned construction worker will tell you, a hammer never built a house without a skilled hand to wield it.
However, if we want to relegate money to its proper position as nothing more than a valuable tool in our lives, we must learn how to control it and use it in order to enable us to focus on other more valuable things like the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of ourselves and our loved ones.
Gaining that Deeper Understanding
Whether you’re a young adult or a lifelong veteran of financial responsibility, it’s always helpful to keep a humble mindset towards your financial knowledge. From learning to properly adjust our living styles based on our income to picking up a side hustle, starting our own business, or even figuring out the proper way to pay our taxes, maintaining a current and deep understanding of money is always important.
One of the first elements to a healthy financial life is to remember that financial stability is largely driven not by the amount of cash in your bank account nor your status in life; it’s dictated by how you react to your financial situations throughout life. If you can keep your head on straight during both the financial strains and blessings, you’ll have a much better chance of making wise decisions as you navigate through life.
Having a Self-Improvement Mindset With Finances
If you approach your finances with a genuine self-improvement attitude to revolutionize and redefine your attitude towards money, chances are you’ll find a great deal more success than if you do so as a reaction to external pressures like debt or the advice and demands of relatives. While the latter situations can occur (and should be dealt with calmly), when it comes to truly gaining control over your financial life, it’s important to do so with you in mind. The change needs to be on a deep and personal level.
Accounting and Finance: The Past and the Present
It’s also important, on a more practical level, to understand the difference between accounting and finance. The former analyzes past financial decisions, while the latter specializes in making future financial decisions. Both are critical pieces when it comes to taking control of money in our lives. Responsible accounting allows us to see good and bad decisions as well as perform important functions like paying our taxes correctly and on time. Finances allow us to make budgets, plan out larger expenses, and save.
Bringing Order to the Chaos
Ignoring your finances rarely yields a positive outcome. It’s important that you remain aware of your financial state. It’s that age-old adage, knowledge is power. Even if you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, it can help you maintain control over your own financial situation if you take the challenge of your finances head on. Here are some suggestions to help keep your money from consuming your mind with uniformed anxiety.
- List your income and expenses. This may sound like a chore, but the benefit of seeing your finances both coming and going can’t be understated.
- Define what is a want and what is a need. There’s a huge difference here. A need must be addressed. A want shouldn’t get preferential treatment. If we muddle the two in our heads, it becomes hard to keep our budgets in line with our income.
- Carefully consider any and every use of a credit card. That thin piece of plastic is the opposite of free money. Avoiding overusing credit cards is an excellent way to keep your spending under control and can save you a boatload of trouble down the road.
- Make actionable plans to create savings, large or small. Whether you’re saving for retirement or to get a new puppy, approach every larger financial decision with purpose. Spending first and worrying later never pays in dividends. Make a plan and try to stick to it.
- Maintain an emergency fund. There are many expenses you will not be able to plan for. For instance, if you get into a car accident and are found liable, you might not only need to pay increased insurance costs, but also unexpected medical costs. You need a safety net in case you or a loved one is injured in such a scenario or develops a chronic medical condition.
Using Money in Your Favor
While addressing our attitude towards money is a critical part of the journey, it goes beyond tracking and planning our personal finances. Here are a few other ways to apply this self-reformation towards money in real-life scenarios in other areas besides our taxes and bank accounts.
An End to a Means
The health world can be a bottomless pit of costs if you go in blindly and start spending money hand over fist in the hopes that “more money spent will lead to better health.” The truth is, you really can address health concerns and live an overall healthier lifestyle without dropping hundreds of dollars a month. From taking advantage of free preventative care when it’s available to avoiding following costly health fads and looking for bargain gym memberships, you can address both your physical and financial health simultaneously with very few compromises.
The same goes for mental health, as well. If funds are tight, you don’t have to choose between therapy and keeping your finances in the black. From the sliding scale fees that many professional therapists charge to modern technology like apps that help bring affordable teletherapy care right to you in the comfort of your own home, there are many options to help keep your mind and finances on track at the same time.
Take the Time to Take Control
While the battle for control over our money is always raging, it’s one that can genuinely be overcome with careful consideration, thoughtful decision making, and the willingness to explore our options. This enables us to maintain control over our money as well as focus on self-improvement with our mental, physical, and spiritual health along the way.