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The Money Trap, 'Leftovers,' & Prescription
Medicine for Finances
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In the last section, we discussed contradicting attitudes
about money: Money is good and money is evil.
In this section, we will discuss post-holiday stress related to over-spending or your money
trap and a plan to get on the path to financial stability and a Prescription
for Your Financial Health. Do you agree that your current holiday let-down or
depression may be due to some over-spending you may have done? Are you caught
in a money trap?
The holiday season is over, and as you look
at your checkbook or see your credit card statements, do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach? Do you feel intense anxiety when you realize how much money you
spent during the holidays? Do you feel that you have no control over your mounting
You don't have to feel trapped by your financial situation. There are many
ways you can regain control and develop a healthy relationship with your money
and spending habits. I will discuss three: uncovering hidden thoughts and attitudes
about money, developing an attitude of gratitude, and designing a practical budget
that is worth sticking to.
First of all, you'll need to take
an accurate look at your financial situation. Ignoring the balances on your
credit cards-paying only the minimum each month-while racking up more credit card
debt will not help you walk on the path to financial freedom.
♦ "Prescription for
Your Financial Health"
get started in the right direction, let's discuss a "Prescription for
Your Financial Health." To restore your financial health, we'll need
to do the inner work of changing the way you think and feel about money and also
the outer work of practical money management. As mentioned in the previous section,
the way you think about money is a strong force in shaping your spending and saving
habits, and also your overall state of mind.
If you constantly worry about your
debt or how you'll be able to pay all of your bills, these thoughts may begin
to add enormous amounts of stress to your life. Instead of thinking, "I'll
never be able to get out from under this huge mountain of debt," take a practical
step, like increasing your monthly payment on your high-interest rate credit card,
and start thinking, "This is manageable when I take the right course of action."
is also necessary to uncover what thoughts and beliefs you have about money. You
may not be aware of some of your attitudes toward money, but they present themselves
in various forms throughout your day. When a woman driving a Jaguar pulls up next
to you at a stoplight, do you initially think, "Her husband must have a lot
of money," not thinking that a woman could become wealthy on her own? Would
such a hidden attitude prevent you, as a woman, from taking control of your own
financial situation and accumulating your own wealth?
♦ 3 Techniques to Regain Control Over Finances
Technique # 1 - Uncovering Hidden Thoughts and Attitudes
Let's explore how you feel about money by finishing the following statements.
Write your answers down. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers.
Just be honest.
My bank account is
Those who have
more money than me are
When it comes
to debt, I believe
When it comes to money management, I am
make a lot of money because
about money have you revealed? Start replacing your old beliefs with positive,
wealth-enhancing ones. For example, instead of saying, "I must work hard
to make a lot of money," say, "I make money by working smart."
Instead of telling yourself, "I can never really be debt free," say,
"I enjoy the freedom of living debt free."
are powerful, and what you choose to focus on will shape the decisions that you
make regarding your spending and saving habits. Instead of dwelling on the things
that you don't have (a brand new BMW, a vacation home in the Florida Keys), think
about what you DO have, and be grateful for it. An attitude of gratitude will
help you see your financial situation as something that isn't overwhelming and
♦ Technique #2 - Developing an Attitude of Gratitude
To keep your mind on thoughts of gratitude,
let's try this exercise.
#1: List five things that you're grateful for, like your
new puppy, your full-time job with health insurance, and being able to spend time
with your friends after work. These things can be money-related, but they don't
have to be. Just write down five things that you're thankful for.
#2: Now, take this
list and post it somewhere in your home, office, or car where you will be reminded
of the blessing of these things. Add to this list daily. When you are continually
reminded of how much you have in your life, tangibly and intangibly, such as through
relationships and love, you will find your old ways of thinking about life and
money begin to shift.
#3: As you start to think about the abundance
of things in your life, now would be a good time to eliminate any unnecessary
expenses. In order to do this, think about the things that truly make you happy.
Would you rather go out for lunch every day or bring your lunch to work three
or four days out of the week?
What's more important to you: spending ten dollars
every day on lunch, or splurging once a week on a nice meal out with a few of
your closest friends? How about saving that money and having an inexpensive home-cooked
meal with those friends instead? It's the quality of the experience that should
matter, not the quantity.
♦ Technique #3 - Designing a Practical Budget
Worth Sticking To
After deciding what brings you
happiness (getting out of the office each day for lunch or saving up money
to dine out with friends), now would be a good time to look at your overall spending
habits and create a detailed budget.
a. Start by listing your total monthly income
b. Then list your monthly expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities,
insurance, groceries, entertainment (this includes dining out), loan payments,
clothing, and other such expenditures.
c. Subtract the total of your monthly expenses
from your monthly income and analyze the amount that's left.
What can you put
into savings? Should some of this "leftover" money go toward your loan
or credit card payments? Do you need to cut back on entertainment in order to
put more into your "grocery" section? Should you cut back so that you
can save more?
Remember that it is important to save all you can. Money saved
is not simply money idling in the bank. It is money that is set aside to be there
when you need it for unexpected emergencies, such as home or car repairs or medical
Regardless of what you decide with this budget, the
important thing is that you stick to it. Don't get into the habit of thinking
that if you ignore your credit card debt or the amount you're spending on entertainment
each month that your problem will go away or resolve itself. You must be proactive in finding your solution to your financial stress. This begins with recognizing
your hidden beliefs and attitudes toward spending and saving, creating a budget,
and sticking to the plan that you've created.
In this section, we discussed the influence of post-holiday stress as it relates to over-spending
and financial burdens-The Money Trap. We also discussed the importance of creating
a practical financial plan that helps get you out of the money trap and on the
path to financial stability.
In the next section, we will discuss
what fuels you.
What will shape the decisions that you make regarding your spending
and saving habits? To select and enter your answer go to .