My wellness journey includes my financial wellness. So, the Psychology of money is one that I have been studying these days, especially Mine. It’s like peeling the layers of an onion. It’s been interesting using the observations I’ve made of my life and that of others as a source of lessons to improve my future:
So, I’ve done all the things I’m supposed to do; go to school, get good grades, get my masters, find a job at a big company, make more money… But something wasn’t right.
Actually, a couple of things were not right with me financially. In thinking through the money pattern in my life, I made a few observations. First of all, the more money I made, the broker I felt. How is that possible? I felt broker than I did when I made half as much. I realized that when I got an increase in income, I’d set up a new goal that was more ambitious than the increase, typically paying off a debt. I’ll set it up in such a way that if I previously had $200 to play around with, now I only had $100, making me feel ever more strapped for day to day cash.
Hmm, why didn’t I allow myself to enjoy my increase? It was like I was I standing in my own way. What is the thought in the back of my head that makes me want to diminish my joy? I haven’t figured that one out yet, but what I do know is that I want to change that.
If more money doesn’t bring me more happiness or enjoyment, then what is the point of making more? For me to have more, I think I have to learn to be happy with what I do have. If I could crack that code, then I could always be happy. This starts with me being a good steward of what I have right now.
Another observation was that, I never had enough money to give. I was always too broke to give a guy a dollar. “We will be able to give, but not now”, I’d say. But I always had the funds to do what was important to me. Someone had said that money flows through the path of least resistance and a closed fist is more resistant than an open one. Because my fist was tight and I wasn’t giving much away, nothing flowed in either. I realized being tight fisted wasn’t doing me any good and I had nothing to show for not giving to other.
It became clear that my current money philosophies were not serving me. So, I decided to seek out wisdom, anywhere I could, to discover a better approach to dealing with money.
Change One: Tithing & Giving
The first guidance I knew to follow was biblical, which was to “Pay tithes” no matter what and make that a priority. At this point, my financial dilemma was beyond me, so I decided to trust in a higher power and follow the instruction. This was the only clear guidance I had discovered at that time. I also saw this as a way to get into the habit of giving.
I would get the money out and take it in cash to church. I wanted this experience to be as tangible for me as possible, more reminders for me to have faith and give up control to the universe. Sometimes, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get by, if I paid tithes, but I believed that everything will be ok.
Discovery number #1, I was ok. Not sure how I got by sometimes, but I was ok. My world didn’t end, in fact, I felt great. I felt good because I had taken a leap of faith and the universe didn’t fail me.
Discovery number #2, I adapted the giving spirit! I found myself giving any chance I got. I saw it as a way to liberate myself from more of my money. I also started getting rid of my excuses for not giving. If one reason was that I didn’t have change, then anytime I got a dollar, I’ll keep it within easy reach on me. So, I couldn’t also use the fact that I couldn’t get to my money fast enough as an excuse not to give.
After reading the book “The Diamond Cutter“, I also found myself giving more of my time. Giving of our time, I’ve discovered, is a way to escape from thinking about ourselves and our problems. So, now I appreciate that time off. This is a habit I want to pass on to my kids because I believe they would reap a lot of rewards from the seeds sown by giving. So, my family and I will be volunteering at least once a month at a food pantry.
Giving & tithing are also habits of very successful people and they have credited that habit for part of their success. People like Robert Kiyosaki, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Stephen Covey, Oprah and more. See, I’m in good company.
Change Two: Paying Myself Next
Working hard and not leaving room for me to enjoy my hard work has been demoralizing. I realized I had to take care of myself a little better and take that stressful note out of my money equation. The next thing was for me to give myself permission to keep a certain percentage of my income for myself. This way, I got to enjoy it a little. And if my income increased, that amount will increase accordingly, allowing me to tangibly feel and maybe appreciate it.
It was really hard for me to accept this step. It made sense, but when I did my budget, it didn’t add up. There was no room in my budget for me. I’ve decided to do it anyways and I’m still trying to figure out how this will work exactly.
FYI: After adopting change one, I got a pretty significant pay increase :).
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