Money is work. Given the chance, it will manipulate our decision-making. The question is: Who’s supposed to control the behavior of money? That would be us.
When we have too little money to get what we want, we borrow and pay interest. When we have extra money, we invest and hope for gain. Too much borrowing and interest eats up what we earn. Poor investing means loss. There’s a lot of “woe is me” around money.
When you control the money, it can’t control you.
We all need money to live. That’s why we work. We need certain basics: a means of transportation, place to live, furnishings, food, and clothing. We also need to embrace life, advancing our interests and talents. There’s a cost to that.
When it comes to spending money, the big issues are speed and magnitude. How fast must we have the things we want and need? And how grand is our thirst?
Early on, most of us don’t really know what kind of life we want to live. There’s just so much out there to figure out. We often make decisions about cars, houses, clothes, vacations, and all manner of stuff based on what others own or what people say we should have. So we just follow the pack, spending away.
The problem: Once money is spent it’s gone. That means you need to replace it. So, you keep reporting to work each day, volunteer for some overtime, hope for a raise or promotion, or look for a new job. Maybe you even add a sideline to raise some extra cash. The cycle keeps spinning.
We control the money by controlling our spending. Pretty complicated, eh?
The snafu here is that spending is about behavior—ours! We spend money for lots of reasons, not all of them too admirable. Here are some typical lines:
- I deserve to treat myself. I work really hard.
- My job is so boring. I’ll feel better if I go shopping.
- Life is short. I need to enjoy these things while I’m young.
- Everyone else has these things. I can’t look like I’m a loser.
- If I don’t stay in style, I’ll be left out.
Controlling spending gets easier when you know what it is that you’re working toward.
We all make bad purchasing decisions. Each one is a lesson.
When we spend our money on dumb stuff, we need to revisit the “why” of our buying decisions. I’ve made a few bad purchases myself.
1. I was once obsessed with Longaberger baskets. I bought scads of them, especially the ones with the plates. I used some, decorated with others, and kept some in the boxes. I convinced myself that they were “investments” that would eventually turn a profit. Nada! (Lesson: Unless you have a market in-hand, don’t borrow to buy and resell.)
2. I’d always wanted a baby grand piano but couldn’t afford one. I knew an antique refinisher who was restoring a baby grand that I could have for under $2,000. I was blind over it and forgot about the “if it’s too good to be true” warning. The piano became unplayable in short order. I felt like an idiot. (Lesson: Don’t let your heart rule your head and then squander your money.)
3. As a horse breeder, I was approached about investing with a partner in a well-bred stallion from Florida. There was a string of “experts” attesting to the quality of this horse. The price was right but not a bargain. To make a long story short, soon after we bought him, his underlying health issues surfaced and he was dead of natural causes in 6 months. (Lesson: Always do your own due diligence on any major purchase.)
It’s your money. Treat it like it matters.
Your life is your business. Your money makes up your budget, your investment portfolio, and your solvency. Be mindful of the life you are trying to build for yourself over the long term. Remember: business fitness is about being prepared and ready to move your life forward. You money is your wheels!
Have you had any money “experiences” that have been eye-openers for you? What are important lessons you’ve learned?