I’m of the view that I can learn from anyone. In this sense, we are all each other’s teacher.
As for money matters, sure, I know a fair bit about finance and investing. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m done with learning more. Because when it comes to learning, less is NOT more. Nope. More is more. And my plan is to keep on thirsting for knowledge, to continue growing, until my departure date from this planet we call home.
If You Want It, Here It Is, You Can Have It
My 17-year old son tells me that he’s terrible at managing money.
My 26-year old niece says she doesn’t even know where to start when it comes to investing.
My 42-year old friend complains about mortgage debt and making ends meet.
My 47-year old friend fears for his financial future, knowing he has contributed way too little to his retirement account yet remains unwilling to reduce borrowing and spending.
My 59-year old relative, who has crazy long longevity in her family, plans to continue working into her 80s despite a decent sized nest egg because she’s concerned she’ll run out of money before she runs out of breath.
My 81-year old Uncle, who lost any sense of purpose after his wife passed way, does little with his days but review his substantial investment accounts, the size of which seems to be the only support for his sense of self.
Whew! Not a content bunch, at least on the financial front. And these are some of the folks I learn from, with my primary takeaway being this: freedom is often a perspective, an outlook. And this includes financial freedom.
Because, the thing is, if you want financial freedom, you can have it. But not in the conventional way of thinking, i.e., not by earning or inheriting a gazillion dollars. Rather, through adjusting your relationship to money, by empowering your self through learning about money matters, by tweaking the way you manage money, this is how you achieve financial freedom.
Money Troubles: Two Sources
1. I Want It!
When did so many of us so-called adults revert to an adolescent mindset? A sense of entitlement, a demanding, impulsive neediness to have what we want when we want it?
A long, long time ago (say, when Elvis first popularized hip gyrations), credit was virtually non-existent. So if you didn’t have the money to buy stuff, well, you didn’t buy it.
The obvious upside of this sort of system was no debt. The perceived downside was you either didn’t get stuff or your possession of stuff was delayed until you could save enough dough.
Then along came credit. And people feeling it was their ‘born in America right’ to possess material things that they cannot afford. And lenders, in business for the purpose of earning bucks from lending, were all too happy to lend.
As for the deep dark debt holes being dug by Ms. and Mr. Consumer, well, that was the lender’s business only if they didn’t get repaid. Otherwise, Consumer would bear the burden and the strain and the stress of debt.
And why shouldn’t they? I mean, presuming Consumer is of the age of majority, presuming Consumer has been wearing big boy / big girl pants for some time, isn’t it Consumer’s responsibility to manage their finances?
It’s not like Consumer is being forced to borrow money, to max out several credit cards, to finance a luxury car or take out a McMansion home mortgage. So in the end, if Consumer is voluntarily taking on debt, then Consumer alone is responsible for that debt, and all its attendant headaches.
… Stop Wanting!
You know a simple, entirely effective way to eliminate debt, to prevent that pulsating ulcer from ever happening?
For the single purpose of your financial health and resulting freedom, turn the clock back to the 1950s. Pretend credit does not exist. Pay all cash for each and every purchase, whenever possible, except for your home. And even then, borrow only the absolute minimum. And be certain you can and will repay the mortgage within the contractually agreed upon timeframe.
And recognize that not having the money means you cannot afford the purchase. And that’s okay. There’s no need to keep up with the Jones because the Jones are dead. This is 2017, not 1950. Once you stop wanting what you cannot afford, an amazing thing happens. The leaky boat that is your financial house soon repairs itself. Clouds disperse revealing blue sky, sunshine, and calm waters. Your sense of freedom expands, and life is good.
2. Greed Sucks
You can’t have it all and pay for it later. Thinking otherwise defines greed. Inherently, greed is destructive. It will mess with your moral compass. Blow up relationships. Leave you empty.
So how do you quiet your wants so they’re reasonable and not obsessively focused on Self?
Give some away. Really. Giving away money or possessions has the effect of taming the greed monster. In effect, you become more of a Giver, rather than a Taker. And once you start down the Giving path, here’s what happens:
- Compassion. Prioritizing the needs of others ahead of your own wants not only reduces selfish desire, but also contributes to you seeing how much you already have, and caring for others.
- Generosity. When you realize how fortunate you are to have what you have, in terms of the people in your life and material goods, then you become grateful. The natural outflow of a heart filled with gratitude is generosity. Generosity subdues greed. And inner peace and contentment then thrive.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it your self; see what happens. And if you’re so inclined, you might want to think about the following:
- Regular Giving. Determine how much money, stuff and/or time you will give away, and when you will make your gifts, i.e., monthly, annually, etc.
- Others First. Give to others before giving to your self.
- Plan. Take time to devise a thoughtful giving plan.
- Voluntary. Giving comes from inside you, not from social pressure. Be driven by issues close to your heart, issues that engage and excite you, whatever those may be.
- Happy. Generosity brings happiness to you and the recipient just as surely as miserliness brings misery.
Yours For The Taking
All those people I mentioned in the second paragraph, if they take on the perspective that learning is a never-ending process, and if they are patient and kind to them self, then financial freedom is waiting for them. Because through giving to others and our Self, we’re all allowed to take freedom and feel good about it.