6 Ways Happy People Approach Money

6 Ways Happy People Approach Money

When talking about money, some people like to quote the First Epistle of Timothy and say, “for the love of money is the root of all evil,” others prefer The Notorious B.I.G.’s sentiment, “Mo’ money mo’ problems.” Whichever way you choose to say it, most people’s relationship with money is… complicated.

For many of us, money is cause of a lot of stress – there never seems to be enough of it. College students go into crippling debt trying to pay for their education, half of American families are living paycheck to paycheck, and 47% of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency.

Now before this article gets too bleak and you’re left wondering why you ever clicked on here in the first place, I’m going to tell you that you can have a good relationship with money:

Yes, you. Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, even if you’re paying off multiple debts, even if you feel like you’ll never see the light; you can get to a point where money isn’t a big weight on your shoulders.

Follow these six tips and begin to feel that weight lifting:

1. Plan Ahead

Budget, budget, budget! Know exactly where your money is going ahead of time so that there are no unwanted surprises. One of the worst feelings is forgetting a bill and having that late fee tacked on.

Avoid that by:

  1. Noting all of your expenses on a calendar. You can download a free monthly 2017 calendar created by iMom here. Write down your pay days and every future expense that you know you’re going to have including bills, rent, loan payments, birthdays, vacations, etc.
  2. Create a budget that works for you. Take a look at these five budgeting methods to find one that works for you. Every time you create your budget, look at your calendar to see what expenses are coming up in that pay period and make sure you allot the proper amount money to each expense.

2. Create an Emergency Fund

No matter how well you plan your budget, life will always throw you curve balls. That perfect budget has nothing on a broken A/C in the middle of August, a tire blowout, or a broken arm. To avoid having to spend this month’s grocery money on repairing a cracked windshield, you should have $2,000 available in an emergency savings fund.

I know that most people don’t have $2,000 just lying around to put in an emergency fund. That is why I put together this challenge to save up $2,000 over a 12 month period. This challenge breaks down the savings into bite-sized pieces so that it’s easier to see where you should cut your budget to save money. If you need some inspiration on where you can cut areas of spending to accommodate the savings, check out this blog post.

To save even more:

Put your emergency fund into a POECU savings account to enjoy larger compound interest rates than a savings account at a big bank. Call 504.885.6871 to find out about becoming a member with POECU.

Once you’ve saved up $2,000 in an emergency fund, use the same challenge to start a long term investment portfolio. Check out this blog post by Dave Ramsey to see just how far $2,000 a year can go. And remember, while it’s best to start investing early, it’s never too late to invest in your future.

The biggest tip that I can give you is to save (or invest) first before doing anything else with your money. Your future self will thank you.

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3. Embrace Simplicity

A huge house isn’t worth it if it comes with a 30 year mortgage that you struggle to pay, designer labels aren’t worth it if you end up in credit card debt, accumulating stuff isn’t worth it if it’s preventing you from reaching your financial goals.

I am in no way saying that you should give up things that bring you joy for the sake of saving some money, but I am saying that you need to take the time to reflect and truly decide if the things that you spend money on are worth it in the long run. We have all been raised in a materialistic culture, so it is very hard to remember that the joy that we get from buying a new item is temporary – very temporary.

Most of us are drowning in things that we do not need, some of which we don’t even like. In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo talks about surrounding yourself with only things that bring you joy.

This is very good advice to live by:

Surrounding yourself with only items that bring you joy shows you that you really don’t need all that much to be truly happy. You’ll stop chasing down the temporary thrill that you get from buying material items and begin finding happiness in more meaningful and sustainable places.

4. Stop Impulse Buying

This goes hand in hand with embracing simplicity:

Impulse buying gives you a temporary rush followed immediately by crushing guilt. You knew the second you swiped that card that you shouldn’t have bought that new item, but you couldn’t help yourself. We have a whole section on this topic in this blog post, so check that out if you struggle with impulse buying.

Just remember your financial goals whenever you’re tempted to buy something on a whim. Whether you’re building your emergency fund, investing in a portfolio, or saving up for a big-ticket item, think about how that purchase will affect your goal (no matter how inexpensive the item may be).

5. Curb Your Jealousy

It is so hard to not be jealous of others’ success, especially when you scroll through it every single day on social media. Your friends are having fun at a dinner that you had to turn down because of a tight budget while your college roommate just got a major promotion and your ex just bought a brand-new Mercedes. I get it – the FOMO is real.

 You just need to remind yourself that you’re only seeing what they want you to see. They have their own struggles just like you (financial and so on) that you don’t get to see.

As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy:

You have your journey and they have theirs. It is good to be ambitious and want more for yourself, but only because it will bring personal fulfillment, not because it will bring you status. And remember, there will be things that you will have to give up in order to reach the financial goals that you make for yourself, but it will be worth it when you reach that goal.

It is so important to stop comparing your financial success to others’ because the jealousy that it causes breeds an unhealthy relationship with money.

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6. Invest in Yourself

When was the last time you invested in yourself? I don’t mean investing in a stocks portfolio, paying down debt, or treating yourself to something nice, I mean investing in bettering yourself.

Is there a skill that you’ve been wanting to learn? A class that you’ve been wanting to take? A hobby that you’ve been neglecting? Rather than spending money on new stuff that you’ll probably tire of in a few months, spend it on bettering yourself.

It is worthwhile to invest in yourself. New skills will last a lifetime while things won’t. It seems ultra-simplistic, but we seem to forget this.

If you want to invest in yourself but you can’t afford it right now, make it one of your financial goals to save up for that class or equipment that will help better yourself. Investing in your own betterment will bring you a lot more sustainable joy (and return on investment) than buying a new item will.

You can have a healthy relationship with money:

 I can’t promise that this journey will be fast or easy, and I can’t tell you that you will be financially stress-free for the rest of your life if you follow these tips. But, following these tips will move you towards a better relationship with money.

 If you find yourself struggling to make ends meet and feel that money is a huge stress factor in your life, you’re not alone. POECU members can call 504.885.6871 to make an appointment with Kristy, a certified financial counselor, to get financial advice.

Rachel Morris