You’ve known it deep down for a long time, but have constantly brushed it off. This time though, it really hits you: you’re in an unhealthy relationship. You have to get out. Now.
You may think I’m talking about a loser boyfriend, but I'm not; I’m talking about money.
Your relationships with money and with other people share similarities. Some people have a healthy and vibrant financial life, while others consider that a wishful fantasy. If your financial life could use an overhaul, here are five tips to confront the issues and leave that loser behind.
1. Ditch the idea that your financial situation will repair itself with time.
Personal finance author Dave Ramsey says, “The only difference in you now from the you ten years from now will be the books you read and the people you meet.” If you can’t manage a budget today, you probably won’t be able to a year from now just because you're older. We need new information, new people, and new inspiration to transform our negative habits. So go learn how to take control of your financial future—with skills like how to build a budget—today.
2. Stop taking money advice from people who don’t have any.
When it comes to relationships, seek out the best advice possible. If you want a long-lasting, love-filled, and over-the-top-crazy-in-love marriage, seek advice from someone who is in one, not those who have been remarried three times in the past decade.
The same goes for your money. If you want to be financially secure and in control, stop seeking advice from broke people and irresponsible spenders. Identify someone you know who manages money well, take them out to coffee, and ask them to mentor you. Or find a trusted and affordable financial advisor in your area.
3. Break the chains of spontaneous spending.
You can be thrifty with your money without turning into the Grinch. When you create your monthly budget, set aside some “fun money.” Fun money is unplanned money spent for that gum at the counter or those shoes you simply can’t resist. These situations will arise, so budget for them responsibly before spending a dime.
Fun money is different from emergency money. Ramsey teaches that you should have three to six months of living expenses saved up for an emergency, such as losing your job. If such a thing occurs, it will be an inconvenience, not a disaster, and you will have a few months’ time to job hunt without worrying about paying rent.
4. Trash the “if I win the lottery” mentality.
Does “If I only had a boyfriend” sound familiar? Or in the case of money matters, “If only I won the lottery, everything would be ok”? With the sluggish economy and many people looking for work, it’s very easy to get sucked into this trap.
Those with an "if only" mentality live under their bank account’s control. If your happiness depends on how much dough you have, you’re never going to be fully satisfied. Your inherent worth, value, and dignity have nothing to do with a dwindling bank account or paltry salary. Shed the mentality that more equals better and regain control over your happiness.
5. Stop avoiding the situation.
The biggest hinderance to personal progress or fulfillment is denial. If you think you may have issues with money, create a list on paper and say them out loud. Acknowledge that you need help and take action. Money problems could include:
Ignoring mounting credit card debt
Not tracking monthly spending
Engaging in risky behavior, like frequent gambling
Excessively buying unneeded items instead of saving for long-term investments
Your relationship with money can set the stage for financial success or crumble into emotional codependency, not to mention financial ruin. Begin recognizing your relationship patterns with your money to embark on a bright financial future. As with any unhealthy relationship, there is no better time than the present to address the issues.
Photo via flickr user Saad.Akhtar