- Managing your money is as much about mindset as it is about math.
- Knowing your emotions around money is a key part of developing your personal financial literacy
- The number one thing your finances need is for you to pay attention
- Change your mindset by focusing on the future
44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency. 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments. 38% of U.S. households have credit card debt.33% of American adults have $0 saved for retirement. Rainy days are a fact of life, and some of us might be just one rainy day away from ruin. You’ve heard the scary statistics, and you no longer want to be one of them.
Great! We want better things for you, too. Now the question is, what’s next? How can you make change in your money life?
It’s time to learn about finances and build yourself some better protection. But before we can get started, let’s talk about one of the biggest factors in successful money management: Mindset.
Personal Financial Literacy: It’s Not Just About The Money
Managing your money is just as much about mindset as it is about math.
There are a lot of feelings wrapped up in money. For those who struggle with financial wellness, money can often come attached to feelings like confusion, fear, frustration, shame. Sometimes those feelings lead us to avoid examining our finances, so we don’t have to face feelings of scarcity or failure. This can lead a lot of us to struggle with acquiring financial literacy, or from putting into practice the principles we learn.
We want help you learn about basic financial wellness–what a good umbrella looks like– but you may find that maintaining and using that financial umbrella is a lot easier if you first invest in being aware of your feelings around money. Knowing all about compound interest, improving credit scores, and which retirement plan is right for you is great, but you may actually reach your goals a lot more easily if you can figure out what it is about saving money that makes you sad, or why you’d rather clean your bathroom than balance your budget.
Feelings are powerful, and your feelings matter. Unmet needs have a way of sneaking up and sabotaging some of our best-intentioned efforts, so, just keep an eye on this factor as we learn about the elements of a basic financial umbrella.
Paying Attention vs Paying Fines
Many people avoid managing finances, reasoning that if they can’t help finances, what’s the point?
Even if you can’t add money to your ledgers, you can add your attention. The first step to solving problems is being willing to see them.
Getting your eyes on your finances can also help you avoid additional problems like missed payments and late fees. These are small leaks that can become big due to inattention, and just by knowing about them, you’ll be able to better direct the assets you’ve got.
This one act can help you immediately see which both which changes you need to make, and which changes you can make, whether it’s closing a gap in your spending, or creating more reminders around a credit card that’s about to start charging you interest.
Whether we’re grappling with chaos in our checking account, gaps in our savings, or persistent debt, doing what we can right now is what will help us do more of what we want later.
Ask Your Money To Do Something For You
Another way to redirect your mindset away from fear and towards productive action is to focus on the future and think about what you’d like your money to do for you.
The whole point of managing money is to make sure it’s working for you. Asking it to serve you can start with making a 1-, 5-, and 10-year plans describing where you’d like to be. That can give you a guide to which changes to make first.
Your plan may include general goals like these:
I need my money to get me out of debt
I need my money to help me buy a house
I need my money to build me a secure retirement
It can even be as simple as:
I need my money to tell me where it’s going
Ask yourself what you want your money to do for you.
Or, if you’re not sure what to ask, gather your statements and receipts. Your money will tell you the story of where you’ve been, and that can help you figure out where to go next.
You’re Not Alone
It’s common to feel some fear about getting to know the state of your money, because finances are as much about feelings as they are about facts. For a lot of us, that fear can lead us to avoid looking at finances, so that we don’t have to face those feelings of scarcity or failure. But you don’t have to be weighed down by shame–your past finances are a snapshot of where you’ve been, and you’re heading someplace better.
Your mindset matters just as much as your math. You can change that mindset by focusing on doing what you can now, so that you can do more in the future. Grab your courage–and your receipts!–and let’s get started.