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Changing Financial Habits Is Hard Work. Don’t Just Talk About It, Open Your Mind and Do It

July 20, 2011 · 22 comments

in Personal Finance

How many times have you said to yourself that you wish you had more money?  How often have you looked at other people and wondered how they seem so financially comfortable?  Have you ever asked these people how they have accumulated the wealth or comfort they seem to have?  I am sure the answer from some would be that they really don’t have as much money as it appears.  They just choose to charge their possessions and worry about paying for it later.

However, there is also those people out there who truly have lived within their means, and can afford to take trips when they want to or buy an expensive bottle of wine. They may have tales about how they didn’t buy another car until they had enough money saved. Or they didn’t buy a huge house even though they were pre-approved for a huge mortgage.   In other words, they thought about what their true needs were, and did not get distracted by all the ‘wants’ and ‘good deals’ that are available.  (Remember, even if a big house is lower in price relative to times past, that big house is expensive on many other levels like maintenance, utilities, taxes, etc.)

In All Honesty, Are You Impulsive Or Patient When It Comes To Spending?

If the person you spoke with focused on needs instead of wants, what did you do with such information?  Did you take it to heart and try to apply similar principals?  Or, did you take the easy way out and continue on your current path of spending freely, only to ask the same questions months later?  (In other words, did you rationalize away their reasons for financial success and felt your situation was ‘different’?)

Think Hard About This, Are You A Financial Excuse-Maker?

Quite often, I hear or read about people that want to change their financial situation. However they want it to happen magically. When real methods for cutting costs or saving money are discussed, the excuses fly fast and furious.

The thing is, quite often, spending habits are deeply ingrained.   If it was as easy as flipping a switch to turn someone from a spender to a saver, then our country would not be in the mess it is in.  If you want to improve your financial situation, it may require a reversal of life-long thinking.   This new thinking can’t just last until you are out of your current messy financial situation, good spending and saving habits need to be maintained for life.  In addition, you need to open your mind about investing.  Many people are very nervous when it comes to investing their money because they feel they don’t know enough about investment vehicles.  If that is the case, don’t just let your money sit in a savings account earning .5%.  Either educate yourself, or find someone you trust to help you manage your money.  Ignorance is no excuse.

Can You Commit To Changing Your Financial Mindset?  Or, Is That Too Hard?

Are you ready to make a real commitment to opening your  mind and really looking at how you are spending and saving your money?  Can you really make the changes required to pay off the debt that has accumulated?  Or, is the talk about becoming more financially stable just words, much like the obese person saying they want to lose weight while shoving a Twinkie in their mouth?

Nobody says that change has to be drudgery. Make changes incrementally and create a reward system along the way. Do whatever it takes to ensure success.   However, don’t just talk.  People get tired of hearing constant excuses while answering the same questions over and over.

So, next time you complain about your finances, take a breath first and think of what you have really done to help your situation. If you really are one of the unfortunate souls who have been laid off and tried tirelessly to find work and can’t, then feel free to complain.  However, much of the general population makes plenty of money, they just don’t allocate it wisely.  Change can be hard, but so can being broke.  Decide what you really want for yourself and keep an open mind about how to get there.

Do you know people that complain about money yet do refuse to alter their spending or savings habits?

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole July 20, 2011 at 7:49 am

YES. And they tend to get very upset if you suggest that maybe they do something so they can stop complaining. But no, the whole world is against them. That’s true if they have 5 kids and make 30K/year or they have 1 kid and make 400K/year. There’s never enough money to support their lifestyle.

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Kris July 20, 2011 at 9:02 am

Nicole, isn’t it amazing how quickly people can shoot down your suggestions until you have given every possible suggestion you can think of? Many people love to complain, but to actually change is a totally different story. You are so right, some people will never, ever have enough, and they are their own worst enemy. (Not that they would ever realize it.)

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101 Centavos July 20, 2011 at 8:17 am

A “financial excuse-maker”. I like that, one more catchy term to add to the repertoire. Magical thinking never balanced a checkbook, and yet I’m amazed that people are amazed by the deep dark hole at the end of the month. Out comes the credit card checks for cash, and a little deeper they go in debt. Sometime in the future, a rendezvous with Dave Ramsey. To think that all that could be avoided by spending a little time browsing through the Yakezie network, putting an end to excuses, and just getting on with it.

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Kris July 20, 2011 at 9:07 am

Or maybe a rendezvous at Debtor’s Prison.

I take my hat off for those that are truly trying and just make less money than the poverty level or whatever. But I know many people that make plenty of money, but they talk like they are impoverished. Meanwhile, there house looks nicer than mine and they definitely dress nicer. The whole cause and effect is totally missed by them.

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First Gen American July 20, 2011 at 9:10 am

Some days I feel so lucky to have grown up in a tiny and dumpy little apartment in the city. My house is a mansion in comparison. I bought way less house than the banks told us we could afford, but it was still a HUGE lifestyle upgrade for me.

Perspective and losing that sense of entitlement to certain things is more than 1/2 the battle. I sort of feel bad for people who grew up in nice big cushy houses and then go way into debt to try to maintain that same lifestyle as young adults. People have lost that idea that they have to rough it for a while to get ahead . That’s too bad because it hurts so many people and they end up having to do a financial do over in their 30′s or 40′s due to bankruptcy, job loss, etc.

To me, it’s too scary living on the brink of insolvency and no gadget or thing is worth that amount of stress in my life. I really am glad I have a negative physical aversion to debt. I’m just surprised that others do not.

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Kris July 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

I have often wondered about people that grew up with everything and the shock they must feel when they have to manage life on a entry-level income after college. Do they spend like they are rich, or do they get a dose of reality and learn some hard lessons? (Or, do their parents given them a huge down payment for a house and everything is fine and dandy?)

I am glad I am not prone to buying gadgets or an expensive wardrobe. (Although my poor sense of fashion might have more to do with the latter than anything! :) )

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Crystal @ BFS July 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Sadly, I don’t know many people that don’t fit into this category. My most recent example would be my next door neighbors – he has been having a hard time finding contract work and has even told me that his emergency envelope of money is almost empty, but I still see them drinking and smoking in their driveway most evenings…that seems to be stupid expenses to me if you’re broke…

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Kris July 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Oooh, nice neighbors! What will they do when the emergency envelope slated for beer is empty? People like that exist in droves. I think people with that mindset also like to gamble away any money too.

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Barb Friedberg July 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm

In hindsight, I have done many things which at first glance seemed quite difficult. Those accomplishments have given me the confidence to believe I can do anything if….. I break it down into small goals, focus on the process, and not the outcome.

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Kris July 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Accomplishment is a great feeling. I think that is part of why some people get caught in ruts, they haven’t advanced or grown and just feel stuck. That is when people need to learn something new or something.

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krantcents July 20, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I know someone who is in that situation, although she does not complain. She makes excuses when we travel why she cannot join us and resents us for going. It doesn’t stop there she has excuses for a lot of things. Unless someone is willing to change, it is no use giving advice.

The habits I wanted to change related more to personal habits such as exercising more, eating healthier or becoming more patient. It takes 21 days to form or break a habit. All it takes is will power.

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Kris July 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I have heard about 3 weeks to stop a bad habit too. Sometimes when life gets tough, it is easy to backslide though.

I just don’t understand those that resent others for their ability to do things. (Unless it is via ill-gotten-gains.) People like that won’t ever heed any advice because they already have all the answers.

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Money Reasons July 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Some people refuse to believe that it’s possible that other people work harder and smarter than they can, so they make up stories why some people are richer…

A guy at work that I know is constantly complaining, but he bought a leather sofa not too long ago…

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Kris July 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Isn’t it hard to listen to stories like the leather sofa and not want to just scream? Some people love to complain, and are hoping that people will tell them that they are getting screwed over or whatever. I can’t bring myself to say that though if I don’t feel it.

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Steph July 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I am married to one. It’ makes for an interesting financial relationship. I am a saver and have always been frugal. My husband is a spender.
One if his problems is many years ago we did a major class jump. From 25 years of poverty to strong middle-class. Our debt from the previous years is still hanging over our heads, but since all of his colleagues grew up well off and never had to go without, they spend like crazy. My husband gets resentful and spends too. I find myself constantly reminding him that just because other people had parents who could provide for them as kids, help with college, and even dig them out of tough binds, doesn’t mean we should be irresponsible and try to keep up with them.
Most of them had help. We didn’t. So be it. It isn’t an excuse to be bitter or overspend.

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Kris July 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Steph, I imagine that it is very hard when spouses have different spending habits/goals. It is easy to get resentful, and some people do spend emotionally. I imagine your husband feels he was deprived for so long, and he shouldn’t have to be anymore since the family income is so much higher. However, I would be like you and not be comfortable until the debt is gone. Even after the debt is gone, it will probably be hard for you to be a spender (it is for me).

Good luck, and thanks for commenting!

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Money Matters Guy July 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm

It’s easier to just complain about not having enough money and blame everyone else for your problems. I did that for a long time too, but then I looked in the mirror and realized that a lot of the choices I was making were to blame. It isn’t easy to admit you are part of the problem and to actually take responsibility to change your situation.

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Dmarie July 24, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I just recently had a similar talk with myself regarding healthy eating. It’s time I did the same with savings. thanks!

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debt management company July 29, 2011 at 7:31 am

My sister is a financial excuse maker she claims that she is so far away from saving for a house that there is no point denying herself little luxuries. So she spends needlessly on things which I would cut out in order to save. I have told her she will never get there with that attitude but she won’t listen!

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Kris August 1, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Oh my, that is a frustrating situation. So your sister just justifies her spending because saving for a house is just too big of a goal I guess. That is so sad.

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