Money Conversations: Financial Truths I wish I knew before
21 May 2019 FINANCE
By: Scelo Hlophe
Have you ever considered that some of the decisions we make are motivated by what other people think of us and expect from us because of the certain way we are ‘perceived’ to be? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs speak about social belonging, which means by definition that we as human beings need to belong. We sometimes make decisions in our lives based out of this need. The theory then goes on to talk about the Ego or Status need. This speaks to how people are concerned with being defined by recognition, status, importance and even respect. The fact of the matter is that we desire being valued and accepted by the people around us.
That said… Could our decisions and impulses derived by these needs be detrimental to our financial decision-making abilities? Do we want the right things for the wrong reasons?
The truths about money that I wish I knew before:
Cash In, Cash Out.
Do you make the effort to understand how much money goes into and leaves your bank account every month? This was something I had to quickly learn. Managing personal finance should be treated the same way money is managed in a business. Records not only track spending and income, but also help in understanding financial patterns and behaviour. Paying attention to these trends can help stop negative behaviour and help support more positive behaviour.
Abantu Bazothini Syndrome (ABTS)
Directly translated – What would people say? Our cars, clothes, luxury apartments, cell phones, branded clothing, food, drinks are often driven from the validation we seek from people; forgetting that at the end of the day, the bills end up with you and not other people. If you’re constantly buying things or spending money to impress other people, you may want to reconsider.
Log on to Instagram and you’re often met with pictures of people who all seem capable of living their best lives. You may feel pressured to be the same or even feel inadequate because your present life may not measure up. Add to this our need for instant gratification and we’re potentially headed for financial disaster. What we often fail to see is that success does not happen overnight. It takes hard work. Stop measuring your life and financial ability against photographs that don’t tell you the full story.
Stick to your lane
This phrase is commonly used to put one on their own path. The same applies with finances. The best decision you could make about your life is to be fair to yourself with your finances. Set realistic financial goals that align with where and who you are. Don’t compete and certainly, don’t compare. It often looks easy on the outside, but everyone faces struggles and challenges. The best you can do is deal with yours without the added pressure of needed to keep up with the “Jones”. We are all different. Our backgrounds, responsibilities, commitments and goals are not the same. Make financial choices that are about you instead of other people.
Relationship with money
Many of us may have grown up with no financial education. We will have modelled a relationship with money from our parents. Acknowledge that negative financial behaviour can be changed, that parents would have had their own journeys with money and would have definitely made some mistakes. Read and educate yourself. You also have the option of seeking financial advice from credible and regulated sources.
Informed Decisions – What is your why?
What informs the need to buy what you want? Have you ever stopped to consider why you’re buying what you’re buying? What are the influences in your life? Does what you want add value to your life? Can you live without it? Would you be upset if people did not acknowledge what you have acquired? Answering these questions can help determine your financial drivers and whether they serve you or not.
- Do not spend money you do not have
My biggest weakness when it came to my personal finances was to use money that I did not have. This may be money that was not part of my budget, money that I was hoping to get, or money that was not mine but belonged to the bank. Avoid spending money you do not have or which is not yours and do not have the means to pay back.
- Saying No does not make you a bad person
It may be your family that is financially abusing you, your friends who use and rely on you to finance their lifestyle, the invitations to places and events that you cannot afford, your gullible self with no limits. If all these are taking a tollon you, saying No does not make you a bad person. It only means you prioritise yourself and understand what is important to you as well as your own limitations. Helping out someone in need is good but if that comes with huge financial cost that negatively affects you, it may be time to say NO and not feel bad about it.
Being realistic about finances and understanding that our finances are our responsibility and no one else’s, means that we can start making financial decisions that help us grow and learn instead of create loss and burden.