Are you smarter than a six year old?

So I was having a conversation with my friend’s  six year old who was very excited about spending his $100.00 bill. You know, the one  he received on 100’s day at school. Unfortunately it was play money. He  was mightily disappointed to learn it was no good to him and his shopping extravaganza would have to be postponed.

Unfortunately, I have found that some adults  just are just as  naive about money and their relationship with it is dysfunctional at best.  Some of this is a result of it’s status as a taboo topic in some families  not to mention that we teach little about managing money as part of our formal education process.  We are often left to figure it out on our own.

While you may not have been taught how to manage money effectively you probably have strong feelings about it! Money is really nothing but a form of exchange but you would never really know it to talk about it.  Sure, you simply exchange currency for food, shelter and hopefully a few luxuries. However, depending on your beliefs and ability to make ends meet it becomes more than that, it’s a source of security, status or anxiety.  Money takes on even greater meaning when it is used to measure our success, failure and self worth. You watched your parents manage their finances and absorbed what they believed about it’s meaning. What you learned by watching them influenced the beliefs and the spending habits you carried into adulthood. I personally grew up in a house where money was scarce and as a result have always fought feelings of scarcity. Even as an adult, when our household income more than enough to cover our family budget, I spent much of my time searching for the best deal, justifying my purchases and passing on some purchases altogether.

It’s also about attitude. What is the first thing you think or feel when you have to pay bills? Are you seized with fear and anxiety that there won’t be anything left when you are through paying them? Are you happy to pay them because it gives you a sense of abundance that you can easily pay them?  Examining the lens you are looking through can be a valuable tool to help you change your beliefs .

The best way to develop money skills  is  to  become aware of the spending choices you make and why you make them. If your not making good choices you can take a step back, shift your habits and re prioritize. Here are a few basics that can help you start building a better relationship with money.

  • Create Awareness: Log you expenses and create a budget.
  • Create a feeling of security:  Establish a 3-6 month emergency fund.
  • Make wiser choices :  Think before you buy.
  • Think long term:  It’s never too soon to start saving for retirement.
  • Take Control:  Start reducing your debit.
  • Develop healthy habits:  Save a little every month. It’s about the habit not necessarily the amount.

Change happens by improving awareness and making small consistent changes. Making your financial health a priority will improve your relationship with money and it may even make you smarter than a six year old.

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