Monday, October 25, 2010

Money and Spending

Christmas is two months from today.

I refuse to go into debt to buy presents.

First of all, despite the commercialization of the holiday, it is still about a thankful remembrance of the birth of Jesus, son of Mary, (Step-son? of Joesph); and that's more important than overspending on a bunch of Christmas crap.

Yes, we will exchange gifts, but within our means. I hope you do the same. Here's some help from the DLM Blog:

How To Make Peace with Money

Posted: 16 Oct 2010 07:20 AM PDT

Do you hate thinking about money? Even those that aren't living in financial distress can have an uncomfortable relationship with money. It's common to feel like it's not nice to think about money or that everyone has a good handle on it except for you.

The truth is money is a tool and we all have to decide how we will use it. You will be able to make better decisions about money if you can get to a place where you can think about in a matter of fact way instead of avoiding the subject or making all of your decisions based on feelings or guilt or shame.

Try these 10 steps to make peace with your relationship with money.
  1. Tackle your finances head on.
    It's not only practical and smart to know your net worth and liabilities but the more you ignore it, the scarier and more intimidating it will be. Make a list of all your assets and liabilities and take a careful look at where you stand.

  2. Keep debt in perspective.
    All things considered, it's better to be out of debt than in debt but there are far worse things in the world than owing money. It is a hole that you can dig yourself out of. And, if it turns out that something like bankruptcy is the only answer, it's still not the end of the world. You can overcome financial problems.

  3. Make a plan for your money.
    Most people feel more secure when they have an outline of what is going to happen and financial guidelines to tell them what to do. Writing out a plan that lists your financial goals and the steps you will take to get there is an excellent way to motivate yourself and keep your focus strong.

  4. Understand that there is nothing shallow or petty about being concerned about money.
    Giving a healthy amount of your attention to your finances and making your financial health a priority is not a sign that you are less spiritual or evolved. Remember that it's important to take care of yourself if you want to help others.

  5. Take a look at your shopping habits.
    Do you shop because you are bored or lonely? Do you buy things to get a high? While the occasional impulse buy or splurge or day out window shopping is not a problem, shopping should not be the cure for everything that ails you. Look for more positive ways to deal with negative emotions such as exercise, meditation or talking to friends.

  6. Do what you can to ensure that you're being paid what you are worth.
    This can be a tricky subject as it often seems like compensation has very little to do with how much value a job gives to society, but, within every field there are some that are paid more or less. If you know that you are an asset to your employer or clients there is nothing wrong with asking for a raise, extra benefits or other consideration to reflect your value.

  7. Stop waiting for a miracle or hero to save you financially.
    It's fun to daydream about winning the lottery or marrying a wealthy prince or princess and magically seeing our financial problems disappear. Sure, it could happen but you'll save yourself a lot of stress in the meantime by being proactive about fixing your finances.

  8. Your self worth does not have to be dependent on your net worth.
    I think we all know this intellectually but it's something most of us have to remind ourselves daily. So many of us come from cultures where those that are wealthy are seen as being more worthy of esteem and those that are poor are looked at as being “less than”. Even comfortable middle class people can fall into the trap of thinking that because they can't afford every luxury they must have done something wrong. Remind yourself of this whenever you find yourself feeling anxious or insecure around those who have significantly more or less wealth than you do.

  9. Stop being so judgmental.
    Sure, there are plenty of dumb decisions made about money every day but there isn't any value in pointing fingers or getting up on a high horse about other people's poor decisions. You absolutely can and should learn from the mistakes and experiences of others but using it as an opportunity to feel superior is only going to increase your anxious feelings about money. If you can be kind and understanding towards others when they make mistakes, you'll be better able to look at your own mistakes in a productive way.

  10. Do some digging and find out what you fear about money/material possessions and confront it head on.
    It can be helpful to talk through these feelings with a trusted friend or family member. Things nearly always seem less intimidating when you get the courage to talk about them. Perhaps you fear thinking about your retirement because you feel stupid that you don't know what all the terms mean. Or perhaps you overspend on restaurants and entertainment because you are afraid your friends will abandon you if you can't keep up. Whatever your fear there is almost certainly a solution if you face it and get some help to figure out how to make it better.
Don't feel like there is something wrong with you if you find it difficult to think about money in a productive way. Just know that by taking the steps to make peace with your relationship with money you'll be able to focus more on the things you love because you'll know longer be burdened by the anxiety and stress that comes with money problems.

Written on 10/16/2010 by Tracy O'Connor. Tracy is a staff writer for MoneyNing , a personal finance blog dedicated to helping readers get the most out of their money.Photo Credit: enough_42

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