October 15, 2018
The biggest battle you face is against yourself. Are you able to focus on the things you can control and pull yourself out of the mire? Are you willing to take a deep breath and drop the worries you know you can't do anything about?
From an early age, we learn the power of money. We watch our parents go out and earn every day, rain or shine. Over time, we learn that for better or worse, money will always be a part of our lives, and it’s here to stay.
What we learn later on is that money is the source of numerous emotions, not all of them pleasant.
Guilt, shame, anxiety and avoidance are just a few of the powerful feelings which often surround our spending and saving habits. We feel horribly ashamed when we’re ‘working late’ on a Friday night, as an excuse to not go out. We feel nervous when we hear of new Government policies and potential changes to what we earn, invest and save - and it’s tricky to voice our worries and concerns without losing face.
Talking about money in public is still taboo. Seven in 10 people consider it rude or inappropriate to discuss personal money matters in a social setting; and only 81% of young professional couples discuss their finances before marriage. Nobody talks about the horrible emotions they feel around money; we worry that others will judge us for being foolish. They might even pity us. So we keep them to ourselves and pretend they’re not there.
The worst thing is these negative emotions demand an outlet, so we go out with our friends to ‘forget’ our money problems, only to wake up the next day and discover we’ve exacerbated them. We make short-term, damaging bad decisions in order for a little respite. Anything to stop thinking about the albatross. We’re constantly at war with ourselves; there’s one side of us saying ‘Hold back - think’ and the other side is saying ‘Everything’s rubbish anyway, I may as well have another pint.’
The sympathetic turn of phrase ‘It’s just money’ should be banned. It’s important, and the emotions which surround it affect our working lives, our relationships, and our families. Our feelings influence our thoughts, actions and behaviours, so we’ve got to accept, challenge and ultimately change any negative emotions we have surrounding money.
How is this possible? By looking at what you can control, what you can’t, and developing a clear, confident mindset which lets you distinguish between the two.
You can’t control rising living costs, the price of houses, the Government or friends who love nothing more than going to trendy bars. It’s not lazy, passive or mindlessly-accepting to recognise this. These things will not change - and you cannot influence them.
However, you can control where you live, and how much rent you pay. You can control where you shop for food, and getting a better energy deal. You can decide where and when you go out, and how much you spend. You can vote. You can make changes to your spending and saving habits to accommodate the modern world. Life is not draining your finances as you stand by and watch.
The secret lies in having a clear overview of your finances and seeing what’s going where. Making adjustments to your spending and using a little creativity/common sense can work wonders. Why are you paying for a monthly travelcard if you work from home? Why are you still paying O2 £60 a month for a contract which most other providers can beat?
You will never win the war against the government and the modern world. By all means, protest, vote, write angry letters. Write as many furious Facebook posts as you like to ‘spread awareness’. But the only real control you have begins and ends with you.
It’s easy to be discouraged by what you read in the papers, see on Twitter and spot mindlessly splattered all over Instagram. it’s true that costs are rising and things are getting trickier. However, it’s pointless to waste even a second worrying about the things outside your remit. What you need to do is be aware that your money takes its orders from you. Everything you have, no matter how little you have, can and will work for you. And everything you do, good and bad, is sowing the seeds for your future.