Most people looking for better money skills turn to the money pros — certified financial planners or advisors.
Yet sometimes a nonmoney maven can get you on the right track.
Marija Jovovic | E+ | Getty Images
Marie Kondo, the anti-clutter crusader, has some useful things to say about spare change (don’t let it sit around uselessly in a bowl). Gretchen Rubin, the happiness expert, says a certain level of spending can bring happiness (a modest splurge that doesn’t break the bank). You can even borrow some yoga principles to be more intentional about your money.
Money will not magically appear by closing your eyes and thinking positive money thoughts. But you can definitely learn to be more intentional and more proactive about your money.
Have a money date with yourself
Get your favorite beverage — wine, coffee or a soothing hot tea — and get in tune with your inner financial self.
Bari Tessler, a financial therapist and the author of “The Art of Money,” recommends scheduling regular money sessions to clear the air and get a grip on your finances. Just 30 minutes to an hour is all you need.
No one’s money date is exactly the same. Some people might want to look at balances or expenses, or progress toward a financial goal. Consider learning QuickBooks or Quicken, or hire someone to do some financial hand-holding.
The point is to make peace with your financial life and see it positively. Set an optimistic mood with writing supplies you like or something you enjoy eating: “Create the space,” Tessler said. Candles and music are essential for Tessler.
Stop feeling poor
Your internal messages — “There’s not enough” or “more is always better” and “that’s just the way it is” — are toxic and may be causing you harm, says Lynne Twist, an activist who is interested in issues of hunger, racism and overconsumption.
“People don’t even realize they are there,” said Twist, author of “The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Life.” “Scarcity dribbles into every area of our lives.”
Most people’s first thought of the day is they didn’t get enough sleep, they have nothing to wear and there isn’t enough time. A common last waking thought is, “I didn’t get enough done.”
We live in a country of enormous abundance, says Twist, who spends time each year in South America. Pursuing more may lead people to attain more, but ultimately ends in wanting still more — and not actually feeling satisfied.
Instead, people need to more accurately assess what they actually own. “We have very little relationship with sufficiency or what we already have,” Twist said.
If you want to experience abundance, switch to believing you have enough. “That’s the source of real prosperity,” Twist said.
Don’t turn coins into clutter
Respect your paper money
Before 48-year-old Dylin Redling became interested in saving and investing, he was a server at a New York restaurant. He left work each night with his pockets stuffed with cash.
He says the way he treated money was thoughtless, disorganized and even disrespectful. And that lack of care carried over to how Redling treated his finances in general. He spent thoughtlessly, didn’t keep track and had no strategic plan for saving or protecting his money.
But his then-girlfriend, Allison Tom, 49, was horrified. “You worked hard for that money — put it in your wallet, and put [the bills] in order,” she said.
So Redling began to smooth out bills and tuck them neatly in his wallet, the first domino that led him to financial independence. He became more mindful about how to grow the money he’d worked hard for. He and Tom, now married and living in Oakland, California, retired in their early 40s and have a personal finance blog.
That simple lesson of putting it in order had a real impact. “It forever changed how I thought about money,” Redling said.
Ask the right money questions
We all know the pitfalls of retail therapy. Try taking a deep dive in the “why” of spending instead.
People commonly ask how much they can afford to buy, or what they’d like to buy next. Allison Tom thinks this is the wrong question.
Tom recalls a job she didn’t much like. She habitually went to Target on her lunch break, combed the sales racks and usually bought something that brought her an hour of happiness — until she realized she already owned similar items.
When your identity is wrapped around money, you may feel you have to work harder and earn a higher salary. Then, you want to buy more things — and unhappiness can be the driver for many purchases.
“At the end of the day, money is a green piece of paper that doesn’t strengthen your friendships or family relationships,” Tom said. “Are there other things you can do to bring joy into your life?”
Thinking more stuff will equal more happiness is a short-term mindset, Tom says.
The longer view would be asking how you can be happier with yourself and your life without accumulating more.
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