FAMILY FUSION: Money management (II)
“A penny here, and a dollar there, placed at interest, goes on accumulating, and in this way the desired result is attained. It requires some training, perhaps, to accomplish this economy, but when once used to it, you will find there is more satisfaction in rational saving than in irrational spending.” – P.T. Barnum
For the last two weeks I have been seeking to highlight the importance of money and how it can affect our lives and families in positive and negative ways. I looked at the significance of avoiding having money master our lives and then I examined the wisdom of planning in order to be good managers of our financial resources.
Today, I want to guide your minds in the direction of carefully spending what you earn.
Some individuals can hardly wait until pay day to spend their money and then later regretfully say: “I just got paid but I don’t know where my money went.” On the other hand, there are others who sensibly check what funds are available and regulate spending or saving in order of priority. I would categorise the latter individuals as wise and the former as otherwise.
Spending again has to do with controlling or managing areas of your life. Here are some suggestions that may help you in your spending.
1. Learn to control your eyes
Advertisers know that the way to your purse, wallet or bank account is through visual appeal (your eyes). They devise visually stimulating marketing materials that would appeal to your eyes with the hope of winning your vote of confidence and then deprive you of your hard-earned money. You must learn at times to see things that may attract your attention, take a long look at them with your financial resources in mind and determine if it is wise to invest in the item. There is nothing wrong in admiring a new cellphone, dress, shoes, furniture, car or television and leaving them alone if you cannot currently afford them.
2. Learn to control your ears
Another powerful medium through which you may be influenced to spend your money unwisely is the listening ear.
Along with the mass media, you may have spouses, friends, relatives, children and others who may demand your listening ear, with the hope of getting you to release cash to meet their real or imagined needs. Listen very carefully to what they are expressing and don’t be too quick to give away your money at the expense of your own critical needs.
I am sure you have encountered individuals over the years who will plan for your payday and have learned the art of appealing to your emotions. Scrutinise these individuals very thoroughly to see if they are trying to take advantage of your kindness. When it comes to your children, inform them early about your limited income and that everything that they may desire, you may not be able to provide. Discipline them from an early age.
3. Learn to control your feet
There are numerous places and activities that have a way of demanding your company, especially on weekends and end of month. For instance, there are fetes, parties, movies and “limes”, some of which may be very costly.
I have heard statements like” “I am going to enjoy myself and what happens after I will deal with the consequences.” Such an approach speaks of an individual who seems to have difficulty in controlling his or her appetite. It is wise to think of consequences before taking steps that may later land you in a situation of embarrassment or distress.
4. Learn to control your feelings
Emotions, if not brought under control, may cost you more than your pocket contains. There are individuals who are impulsive spenders. They purchase items because they feel like doing so without any prior plans of acquiring them. There are others who tell me that when they feel depressed or stressed, they just go shopping to feel good. They say that after the shopping expedition, their problem does not disappear but they end up with items that they did not need. Seeking professional help for your root issue is highly recommended.
5. Control your credit card
Using a credit card is a quick way to borrow. It is certainly an easy way to purchase items especially via the Internet. With Internet shopping many compulsive spenders are easily caught in the buying trap. I have met individuals who have accumulated several credit cards only to be caught in a perennial trap where it became extremely difficult to get out. The frustration and the ongoing stress they faced is difficult to describe. It was not until they took decisive measures to deal with their problem that their lives began to experience peace.
Credit cards attract a very high interest rate and therefore you should try to clear your balance monthly before interest kicks in. Some months you may not be able to pay off your card debt in full but avoid just paying the minimum balance because you may be in your creditor’s hands for life.
There are other costs besides interest rates attached to using credit cards such as late payment fees and penalty interest if you exceed your credit card limit. Avoid withdrawing cash on your credit card because there is a high fee attached to that transaction as well. Use your card wisely and keep track of your spending.
Money management has to do with controlled spending. Try not to lose control of what you toil so hard to earn; value it and utilise it levelheadedly. If you can control your appetites you may be able to secure much more money within your grasp.
Next week I shall explore the importance of maintaining a good balance.
• Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email [email protected]