Tuesday, September 8, 2015
It's Your Money
The key to managing your money is mindfulness. It is your money. More importantly, it is your life. How you choose to live your life and spend your money is your decision. If this blog had a subtitle it would be, “Exploring Pathways to Financial Freedom.” I am not in the business of providing my readers with a one size fits all answers to their problems. Instead, I offer proven options and questions that I hope will help you begin your journey to financial freedom. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and relax. Let go of all the emotional baggage, all the hatred, all the anger, all the bitterness, all the regrets associated with money that are weighing you down When you get quiet, open your eyes and look directly into the money equation as it applies to your life as it is and your life as you wish it could become. Money In = Money Stored + Money Spent That equation integrated over the course of your lifetime will define your relationship with money. It is all you need to understand to begin your journey. For most of us, Money In is our paycheck. Whether we are employees or independent businessmen we are deciding every day to exchange a piece of our life for a medium of exchange and a means of storing value we call money. If you think your life is worth more than you are earning, develop a plan to increase your earnings to a level that you believe is more appropriate. It may be painful to realize why the market doesn’t understand or appreciate your value as a human being. Overcoming past mistakes and misunderstandings about the nature of life and money may take a considerable amount of time and effort. It took me a while to comprehend why the world did not value a degree in History and English Literature. Then it took me three years as a full time student to clear a path to a new career. There are individuals who decide that there is no dimension of their life that can be measured in dollars. They join a monastery or find a way to live off the land. I know and respect some people who have chosen this path. The big green money machine employs a multitude of highly intelligent marketing professionals, salesmen, and bankers backed by the finest computers money can buy that are programmed by statisticians and psychologists who understand your behavior better than you understand yourself. They are hard at work night and day devising new methods to separate you from your money. They will only be too happy to turn you into a debt slave, but you have the power to say, “No.” On the other hand, I will never tell you how to spend your money. That is your decision. If you want to live in a $100 a month trailer out on somebody’s back forty and spend your money in finest restaurants in town; that is your decision. If you want to make frugality an art form so you can invest more money to finance your dreams of an early retirement; that is your decision. You decide how to balance the money equation so it reflects your values and your desires. Don’t allow the big green money machine to make those decisions for you. It’s only money. That may sound like a strange thing coming from someone who has made a study of the use of money, but it is only money. Even if you end up in bankruptcy court (I pray this never happens), no one is going to take you out behind the courthouse and shoot you; your children will not be sold into slavery; the workhouse and debtors prisons exist only in the novels of Charles Dickens. At worst you will be given a chance to start your financial life a second time. No one will lend you any money for ten years or so, but unless you suffered an uninsured medical emergency, borrowed money is most likely what started your problems in the first place. Become aware of your money. Watch it mindfully as you earn it, as you use it. From month to month watch its ebb and flow. All I ask is that you make the attempt to understand the basic truths of money management. Just try to apply these principles to problems in your life. Then watch what happens, carefully, without judgment, fear, anger, guilt or shame. If you find a method that works, keep using it. If after a reasonable length of time something doesn’t work, discard it. Then look for something new. In the end it is only money.