Turn Your Money Around With Attitude

So much of learning to turn your money around has to do with attitude and perception. For nearly two decades Rick and I had the perception that there was “nothing we could do” to change our financial mess. And guess what? We didn’t change our financial mess!  Then one day we became desperate and overwhelmed by our situation. Overwhelmed with living paycheck-to-paycheck and constantly worrying about money.

The stress became severe enough that we started searching – desperately – for stories about people who had overcome their own complete mess of a financial situation. And guess what? We found LOTS. Google “how to pay off debt” or “debt success stories” and you’ll suddenly be inundated with scores of people who were swimming in financial trouble and found a way out. When we started seeing these stories we realized that the answer to our financial problems – as Dave Ramsey says – in the mirror.

Attitudes that Will Turn Your Money Around

Over time, we realized that there were several attitudes we had about money that had to be changed if we were going to make this “getting out of debt” thing work. Here they are, in no particular order.

I am Responsible for My Money

We used to say “I have no control over my money situation” and “it is what it is”. Then we learned that our daily money decisions had consequences, and that if we changed those daily decisions that our money situation would be different. This sounds silly to many of you, I know, but when you’re raised with the perception that there are “haves and have nots”  and that your money situation is just “luck of the draw” it’s tough to turn from looking outward to looking inward regarding your finances.

Once we did that (and it was NOT easy – don’t kid yourself) things started to change. It’s a tough attitude to adopt, but it’s the first one you need to adopt in order to change things.

Buying Things Doesn’t Fix Problems

There’s a short-term thinking mindset among broke people that buying stuff will make your problem all better. And it may, for a few hours. But then the “new and shiny” of whatever you’ve purchased wears off and you’re left with more debt and the same problems. It’s like when you go out for a night of partying, bathe in the laughter and fun of downing dozens of jello shots, and then wake up the next morning with a serious hangover (not that I would know anything about that 🙂 ).  It may be “fun at the time” but the ramifications of the actions have made the problem worse.

Emotional Healing Improves Financial Healing

This one was TOUGH for us. We didn’t realize how much our childhood troubles affected our management of money. Once we uncovered that, we had to go through the whole process of revisiting the wounds, cleaning them out and bandaging them up so that they’d heal properly. When that looooooong process was done, we saw our money issues much more clearly and had the strength to conquer them and manage our money in a way that was truly beneficial for us and our family.

Perseverance is My Friend

Perseverance is a good thing, but it takes time and strength to develop it. After years and years of attempting to manage money well and then throwing in the towel when roadblocks came (which usually took about thirty seconds) we decide to start pushing through those roadblocks and keep on going. We started looking long-term at our progress and realized that the financial setbacks were only a blip on the radar compared to our overall progress. This encouraged us to keep going and realize that any progress was still progress, no matter how slow.

One of the reasons Ruth and I blog so passionately about personal finances is that we desperately want to see people overcome their financial struggles. As Ruth and her hubby have learned, and as Rick and I have learned, life with diminishing debt and a flourishing savings account is a much more peaceful way to live than our former paycheck-to-paycheck “systems”.

You deserve a life of financial peace. Don’t give up on your dream of being debt free!

What attitudes are – or were – stopping you from turning your money around?

20 comments on “Turn Your Money Around With Attitude

  1. “What attitudes are – or were –stopping you from turning your money around?”

    I’d have to say, my husband’s. He continually wanted newer, shinier, always needing to upgrade to the latest and greatest. He was the biggest obstacle. I still see it bubbling to the surface now and then, but then I have to wonder if I’m just too far in the other direction. I just want to find the sweet spot, but I’m starting to wonder if there is one!

  2. What stopped us from turning our money around? I think we saw debt as “normal” and inescapable. Though we never had credit card debt, we certainly had consumer debt – in the form of new/new to us cars every couple of years. I think we just thought we’d always have a car payment…so we did. It took years to finally change the mindset once and for all. But changing that one thing – vowing not to take on mountains of consumer debt ever again, completely changed our financial lives.

    1. So true, Amanda!!!! We’ve been taught in this culture that debt is indeed normal. It’s hard to buck the system when “everyone” sees it that way, but those who have reached debt freedom know that if you’re not normal, then you’re likely doing well. 🙂

  3. We were stopped from an attitude of everyone has debt, so why shouldn’t we. We felt like it was normal to carry credit card balances each month, to use them to make purchases for things you didn’t have the cash for.

    It took us years to come to terms with this mindset and behavior. Once we did we realized how silly we acted, and with hard work and a plan for our money we could overcome the bad start. What a difference it made. Stress reduced and a better future for our family.

  4. Two words that jumped out to me was attitude & perspective. My quote to remember this week happens to be “Attitude affects action, perspective affects performance.”

    My biggest struggle is thinking I could only afford the minimum payment. When in fact, I can afford more.

    1. Or, making debt decisions based on being able to afford the minimum payment instead of looking at the debt as a whole. Both are destructive to growing wealth. Thanks, Josh!

  5. One major source of difficulty that I faced was the feeling that I was responsible for everyone, not just myself. It felt like the situation with my father was solely my burden to bear, and I didn’t know how to step away from it. It took me years to physically remove myself from the situation, and even more years to start figuring out how to financially remove myself – though that’s still an ongoing process.

    I hate to think of him as a drain because I never did before, at least not until I realized that he’s been lying to me and using me for years without consideration for my family or feelings.

    1. I’m so glad you are starting to “financially remove” yourself from your father, Revanche. It is the right thing to do.

    2. I’m so impressed with your story and how you stepped out and let your dad be responsible for his actions. That must have been very difficult. It’s tough to watch loved ones make mistakes that have such vast consequences. You did what was best for your family – great work!

  6. “Buying things doesn’t fix problems”. This is so true! Back when I was in college (seems like a million years ago!), emotional shopping helped me cope (or so I thought) with the stresses of going to college full-time, working full-time, and an unhealthy relationship with my then boyfriend. Shopping doesn’t help and that shiny thing that was purchased, it just went into the closet. Meanwhile the bills would add up. I am sooooo glad that that phase of my life is in the rear-view mirror 🙂

    1. Yeah, we kept waiting for the next raise, tax return, etc. to come in and save us from our stupid decisions. But it took growing up and becoming responsible to do that. 🙂

  7. This is such a great post, Laurie. You just nail it! I think for me, I had (and still have to some extent) a deeply ingrained compulsion to max out now because that’s living to the max (a false idea). Sort of a fear that if I don’t go for it now, I’ll miss out. I’ve had to just stop, not “go for it”, and see that I’m not missing anything : )

  8. My entire life before I ventured on the FIRE path, I was always told by family that ” You have debt. You are always going to have debt. You are going to die with debt. Why worry about paying it off?’

    As an adult I continued think this way even though it just did not seem right…so, I continued to make stupid purchases and spend frivolously.

    I do not blame anyone or anything, as you state in the idea of this post, it is my responsibility and now I choose to do with it as I wish – make smarter choices!

    It is good to hear from this post and the comments I was not the only one!

    Great post as always!

  9. Great post! In my world, I would abuse money to smother emotional pain and immature thinking. Get mad! Go shopping. Feel sad? Buy something!

    Until I ( and my husband) were ready to deal with emotional messages connected to money, we kept going in an endless circle of debt. Being emotionally immature, one of our favorite responses was to just ignore the mounting financial disaster. We are so thankful that we began to investigate the truth in the Bible about money. Knowing what God said about finances helped us begin to identify lies and wrong behaviors.

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