Is money driving you, or are you driving your money? It may just seem like I switched some words around in that question, but actually there is a BIG shift in perspective depending on which way you approach money.
Money can be a really big deal…if we make it that way. It seems to consume much of our time and energy. When “money is driving you” it doesn’t feel like you have control of your finances, and you will feel anxious and easily frustrated. But if “you are driving your money,” then you feel more control, empowered, and more energized.
My grandparents somehow survived the Great Depression. Those were really hard times and resources were really much more scarce than they are now. When I think of how my grandparents approached money, it was definitely with a sense that they were in charge of their money.
Perhaps you have family members who survived those times too. What words of wisdom do they impart to us?
Financial Tips from the Greatest Generation
Here are just a couple smart money tips from those in that great generation who grew up in the midst of the Great Depression and were successful in driving their money (and not letting money drive them).
- Don’t worship money. Worship God and remember that all blessings—including money—come from God. We are stewards of our money, not entitled, selfish folks. If you see yourself as a steward of your money, you will use it humbly, wisely and with a thankful heart. But if you’re obsessed and worried about money, you are likely to become more greedy and compulsive in your spending.
- Be sure you are bringing in more than you are spending. It is such a simple principle, and yet we all fail at some point or another. Use a budget, so that you know how much is coming into your bank account and how much needs to go out to cover your living expenses. There is only one person in the world who is in charge of managing your money—you. So make friends with a budget and keep tabs on your cash flow.
If you are sharing finances with a spouse or other family members, be sure to talk with them calmly and clearly about financial goals and concerns. You need to create and maintain a “secure environment” with your family members as you discuss financial matters. Make it your goal to remain honest and non-defensive.
Did you know that money is almost always one of the top reasons for why people divorce? Why? Because couples get defensive with each other over financial differences and they end up hurting each other through chronic misunderstandings.
Use the KISSS principle (notice there are three “S’s”) to help you set up a “secure environment” with your loved ones when you discuss money matters:
K – Kind
Remember this quote by Ian Maclaren, “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle.” Maybe write it out and post it up on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator door.
When your loved ones get reactive, defensive or frustrated, don’t take it personally. Remember they are fighting their own great battles, so instead slow down, listen and try to understand where they are coming from.
Make it your goal to remain calm and partner with your family members. You don’t have to give up on your ideas, but do listen to theirs and realize that their emotions come from their own fears or concerns. Together, with kindness, you can generate and decide on win-win solutions.
I – Interested
Be interested in the financial (and other) goals of your family members. What do they enjoy? What goals might they be pursuing that require saving or spending money? Just because family members have different financial priorities, you can still work together to manage your shared budget and work toward individual goals.
Don’t compete with each other’s interests, but rather focus on being interested in each other’s interests. Be sure to share your interests with your family members, and take steps toward your goals. Ask them to join you in your financial goals. And enjoy discovering shared goals…shared goals are often the most fun!
SSS – Share, Save, Spend
So it may seem too simple, but actually the three-way distribution of money through sharing, saving and spending is a great goal and an effective strategy toward you driving your own money.
If you commit to NOT living off 100% of your income, your worries about money will actually improve. Adopting the SSS financial habits helps you enjoy your money a whole lot more.
Just imagine how it would feel to distribute your earnings toward sharing with others (i.e. charities, causes that are important to you), saving it for future goals, and spending the rest on your bills. The share-save-spend perspective keeps money it’s place; as a tool for honoring God, contributing to the lives of others and supporting your own life goals.
If all this sounds like a fantasy, I recommend reading a book or taking a course, like “Financial Peace University” by Dave Ramsey, to provide you with practical steps to get you back in the driver’s seat.