What’s your relationship with money?
It may sound like an odd question, but everyone has one. It dictates much of how we live our lives.
You may be surprised to learn your relationship began long ago, when you were a kid. Our parents and grandparents’ relationship with money influences our own notions about personal finance, saving, and spending.
What you grew up seeing and hearing (anything from, “You can’t take it with you!” to, “A penny saved is a penny earned!”) is likely affecting your financial outlook.
This year, many of us have changed our spending habits or dipped into our savings to cover the ups and downs brought on by COVID-19. Now is a great time to re-examine your long-term relationship with money, too. What habits or ideas are holding you back from achieving financial success?
Below are four spending and saving tips to help you develop a better relationship with your personal finances.
Track Each Dollar
Are you someone who loves to spend or save? Maybe you think you’re frugal because you resist buying big-ticket items, but your small purchases could add up at the end of the month. If you don’t already, take time this month to create an in-depth budget. Track every dollar you and your spouse or family spend. You may be surprised by what you find.
After you fully understand your spending and saving habits, you can see what areas you are doing well in (for instance, saving for retirement or keeping a low grocery bill), and what areas you may want to cut back in (maybe TV subscriptions you don’t enjoy or “small” Amazon purchases that total to a big monthly bill). Set your priorities and then aim next month to keep your spending in line with them.
(Try using an app like Mint or GoodBudget to make it easy for you and your spouse to budget on-the-go.)
Avoid Social Media Envy
The average American adult spends $1,497 a month on nonessential items. All told, that’s roughly $18,000 a year on things you could do without.
Social media is sure to contribute to that number.
We’re using Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok more than ever to connect. But, scrolling can quickly go from connecting to comparing. Your home, wardrobe, car, or vacations may seem inferior to your friends, and especially to celebrities or influencers. In your monthly budget (see Tip #1), check to see if your spending is related to envy over something you’ve seen on social media.
Spending your hard-earned dollars on things you enjoy isn’t wrong. Just make sure those purchases aren’t preventing you from reaching your savings or debt-reduction goals.
Don’t Put Off a Conversation
A recent study showed married people have the fewest number of conversations about money when compared to other couple types (That includes people who are cohabitating, dating, or separated).
If your spouse or partner does not have the same money habits as you (or even if they do), it’s important to talk about your financial health. This is especially important if you’re planning for future goals like buying a house, sending the kids to college, or saving for vacations.
Start by talking about your monthly budget. Ask for your spouse to join you. Set the tone for a positive mindset and transparent relationship with your budget.
After all, research shows the more you can discuss money together, the better it will be for the health of your marriage.
Don’t Get Discouraged over Setbacks
This year, you may have faced reduced wages or furloughs. Maybe, you even have had to dip into savings or take out a loan to cover necessary expenses. Or, you may have had to take on debt to cover an unexpected medical bill or car repair.
Life isn’t predictable. But if you’ve struggled financially, don’t let it discourage you from gaining the financial success you want.
Our Waco personal bankers at TFNB are here to help. Use this year as a “reset” to get yourself on the right path financially. We have the tools and knowledge to support your journey.
We encourage you to call us or stop by one of our three locations to speak with us. We would love to discuss these tips, and more, to help you feel confident — not worried — about your relationship with money. Find us in Waco or McGregor!