The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.--I Timothy 6:10
And they give you cash, which is just as good as money.--Yogi Berra
Money may sound like a funny topic for a productivity blog. But handling your finances is a place where you may experience some serious resistance and procrastination. I know this is true for me. And that resistance used to get me into serious trouble.
I went broke.
Totally broke. Like on my last dime broke. And several years, I lived below the poverty line. At the time, I was residing in Latin America, so even with next-to-no income, we still did pretty well. Nonetheless, I’ve had nothing, and lots of it. Being poor taught me some important lessons.
Ignorance is not bliss. As Dan said in his post on this topic, “Know what you have.” I know that knowing what you have is almost gone is really scary and that creates resistance. But not knowing what you have creates both anxiety and a setting for getting delusional. Get serious about keeping up with your numbers.Have a ubiquitous capture tool and write everything down. Yes, every dime you spend. We wrote every single purchase down for months on end. We knew exactly how much everything cost. And we were ruthless about not overspending. It saved our bacon (and we became financial vegetarians as a result of the cost of bacon--and other meats).
Pay cash. If you can’t pay cash, don’t buy it. When we got out of grad school and got fully employed, even our modest salaries seemed like unimaginable wealth. It would have been easy to go crazy and spend it all, plus some. But we vowed to avoid debt. So we paid off our school loans as quickly as possible, drove our ratty (but paid for) cars, and saved up for every big purchase. As a result, we regained our footing pretty quickly, were able to buy a house, and built a savings cushion.
Cultivate an attitude of abundance and gratitude. While I was barely scraping by in Panama, I saw people who had nothing. No house. No food. No medical care. No nothing. I saw these people everyday. And I worked side by side with people who made around $100 a month who considered themselves well off. I was lucky: I didn’t miss any meals, I always had good health, we had a roof over our heads. Even when we really didn’t know how we were going to get by, my husband would say, “We’ve got enough.” And we did.
Figure out what your means are and live within them. As an extension of the attitude of abundance and gratitude is a knowledge of what it is to live within your means. This is perspective--not letting what other people do or say or advertise get to you and lead you to try to live beyond your means. It sometimes requires you to get a little tough on yourself. And it’s worth it.
Add financial tools to your trusted system. It’s easier than ever to keep up with what you’ve got and where it’s going. There are apps galore. Find one that’s easy to use and make it part of your daily (yes, daily--you spend money every day, right?) routine.
Just like every other aspect of your productivity, you’ll get great results if you create a clear vision, set goals, identify next actions, and track progress.