Our past shapes who we are now. Growing up, we learn the attitudes, habits and mindset of our parents or those who care for us. We often decide that we're going to make our own path through life and discard what they have taught us, but those lessons still surface at times. When it comes to the way we handle our money, there is no question about it: our past definitely has an influence. The good news is that we can choose how we respond to that influence, and if we don't like the past, we can make changes for the future.
Money habits and attitudes
Some of us like to live frugally, preferring to save for the things we want and making sure we have money put aside in case of an emergency, while some of us prefer to enjoy life right now, going into debt to achieve our dreams. These habits can be a reflection of personality; some people are naturally cautious by nature while others like to live life at full throttle. Yet to some extent or another, our upbringing also has an impact on our money management habits. The attitudes toward money that we saw as we were growing up are likely to be the ones we adopt as our own, whether we are aware of it or not.
If you are burdened by debt or feel that your habits and attitudes toward money could use some tweaking, a good place to start is by considering how your money mindset works. Ask yourself the following questions:
. What money attitudes and habits did I witness while I was growing up?
. Were my parents careful with money or did they spend freely?
. To what extent am I like them in my habits and attitudes?
. Am I good at setting financial goals?
. Am I good at setting a budget and sticking to it?
. Is procrastination a problem? Do I have trouble paying bills on time?
. To what extent does my personality influence my current money management habits and attitudes?
. Do I like to have the things I want now?
Change your mindset, change your habits
Once you have identified any areas that you know you need to change, the next step is to develop new attitudes and habits to replace the old ones. It might be hard at first; you might find yourself falling back into the old patterns and habits, but if you persist, you will make it.
Try these tips to help you stay on track:
. Find someone you trust who can help you make a budget and hold you accountable for sticking to it.
. Set some short-term and longer-term financial goals and come up with a plan of how you are going to meet them.
. See a money coach or financial planner to help you set your goals and put your plan in place. They can also help you devise a strategy to get your debt under control.
. If debt is a problem, concentrate on paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first; you will save a lot of money on interest.
. Consider a debt consolidation loan. This often works out cheaper than paying interest on multiple loans.
. Work on your attitudes to how you use your disposable income. If you like to have the things you want right away, work on learning to wait until you have saved the money you need. Distract yourself with other interests or find other ways of rewarding yourself while you save.
. Carefully consider the availability of your credit. Do you need five credit cards with a high limit? Consider having just one with only enough to meet an emergency; if that's still going to be too much temptation, consider going without one at all.
. If procrastination is a problem, set up automatic payment for your bills or set reminders on your phone for when they are due. Ask someone to check in on you regularly to keep you accountable.
Change begins when you make a decision to have a different mindset and attitude toward money management. Attitudes become actions, and actions become habits. Choose to establish positive money management habits and reap the rewards for years to come.