Shift Money Attitude

This is Step .5 in a series about money and how to keep what you have

Link to Step 0 Think about Money

Link to Step .5 Shift Your Money Attitude

Link to Step 1 Live Below your Means

Link to Step 2 Payoff Credit Cards

Link to Step 3 Invest Money

Link to Step 4 Stock Index Funds

We have all kinds of attitudes.

  1. Political attitude
  2. Religion attitude
  3. Music attitude
  4. Family attitude

I want to talk about the money attitude.  How did I do the “shift money attitude”?

In step 0 (in case you missed it), I discussed the way I think about money (my money attitude). To sum up, when I was younger I thought that buying things would make me happy or somehow change my life or make me a better person.

I soon learned that for me, this was not the case. I would buy the things that I desired or just spend money out on the town eating and drinking and perhaps trying to impress people.

I learned that the things that I brought home did not change me, my life, or make me more or less happy…

…I needed to do the “shift money attitude”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we don’t require “things” in our lives or that there is anything wrong with feeling happy about buying things. But I want to suggest to you, that you might want to consider your motivation for spending money before you drop the cash.

Think about “why” you really need a product. Do you need it, or do you want it? Both are valid, but I am suggesting to you that you might want to assess your overall goals for short-term and long-term savings before you make a significant purchase or even something that seems cheap.

I am writing this article, so I think that I have a fairly healthy attitude towards spending money. I think, I can tell the difference between a purchase that I need to make and the purchases I want to make.

Yayoi and I have a great system. I already told you on other pages that I am the “spender” in the family. Yayoi is the spend thrift. To deal with this situation, I agree to allow Yayoi to determine the amount of cash that goes in my wallet everyday.

There is enough money in there to get me through the day, usually a little over $20 dollars, so I can buy little things at work or donate to buy someone flowers or buy girl scout cookies. I am ok with this arrangement, because I know that if there is money in wallet, I can spend it, and I do.

Whatever amount of money that is in my wallet I will spend it. This system works well for us. It limits my spending to an acceptable level for Yayoi and still provides me with enough money to get by.

As far as things that we NEED go, we classify these things as the must pay items:

*  Gas for the cars
*  Mortgage
*  Electricity
*  Natural Gas
*  Water
*  Internet (Cable)
*  Vonage Phone
*  Cell Phones
*  RV Storage
*  Credit Card Bill
*  HOA
*  Home/Car insurance
*  Food/supplies
*  Netflix
*  Clothes for work
*  Vehicle Maintenance

I think most people would agree that this a short list of what most people consider needs. I included things that are really wants on a monthly basis that could come off in a pinch, but these are the bills we choose to pay every month.

Here are some examples of what we do since we did the “shift money attitude” thang:

Shift money attitude:  Mortgage/HOA

I love the fact that I was able to purchase a townhouse in the greater LA area in 2003. It was the first home we EVER purchased, and it was pretty scary. We were lucky to purchase it right before the housing prices went through the roof in the area.

The really nice thing about this area is that, for the most part, property values go up and they did.

Now, with the sub-prime loan situation and the overall slump in the housing market, the property value is no longer climbing with reckless abandon, but it is still more than I owe on my mortgage.

I have an ARM which will reset in 2010, but I can afford to refinance to a thirty-year fixed rate mortgage before the reset date. We choose to pay principle on our ARM loan, even though it is an interest only loan.

I’m not sure this is the most financially efficient investment, but it makes me feel better if my principle goes down instead of up, even if it is only $3600 per year.

We can afford our mortgage and our HOA and still meet our savings goals on a monthly basis. The value of the property exceeds the loan amount and we plan to live in the area for at least another 3 to 5 years if not longer.

If we do choose to move, we will most likely keep the property and rent it out, because long term property values in the greater LA area will keep going up, regardless of short term slumps.

Can you afford your housing bill? People often get into housing situations that they can’t afford and wonder why they can’t save money. It is a bit work to move, but long term savings should be considered in your overall plan.

When you think about money, you have to think about all of your money, and look at each bill and think, does this meet my overall goal?

Shift money attitude:  Cable TV

I have said this before, but Yayoi and I am have mostly quit TV. Broadcast basic, which includes only local channels and WGN from Chicago, comes bundled with my cable internet.

We like this level of service for TV. I have researched into upgrading to the next level up from where we are I think the current bill is about $60.

The next level up, which would include your basic cable channels, like ESPN, and the news channels would cost us about $80 per month. We could afford that, but we wouldn’t watch it.

Occasionally this gets in the way for me a little bit, because I like to watch the Green Bay Packers and Monday Football moved to ESPN. I solve that issue by watching the game on the TV at work…nobody minds, and they stop in to check the score as I watch.

The TV shows that I watch, I can watch on the internet or on DVD through Netflix.

Do you need to pay what your paying for TV? I you want it, that’s fine, just make it part of your plan so you can afford your TV bill and still meet your monthly saving goal.

Shift money attitude:  Cell Phones

Cell phones are now a fashion item, or a prestige piece of your ensemble. People are really sold on the idea that you have to have a monthly contract…

…Hey…you DON’T.

Yayoi and I have old phones through Boost Mobile and can cost as little as $10 every three months. Sure, they are not fancy phones, but we really feel that impressing people with neat gadgets is less important to us than meeting our monthly savings goal.

I know some people pay $100 per month for their cell phone contracts, and again that is fine, if you can do that while meeting your monthly savings goals.

Is there an opportunity to do a “shift money attitude” here for you?

Shift money attitude:  Clothes

Are you trying to say things to the world with what you wear? Yayoi and I are trying to dress “the part” of business at work and casual at play. We are not attempting to impress the world with our fashion sense. If you are, that is fine, as long as you meet your monthly savings goals.

Shift money attitude:  Netflix

What a great service this is. To me, Netflix is really a cable TV replacement without adverting. Also, we rarely see a movie in a theater these days. We both prefer watching movies at home, where we can pause, or stop in the middle if we are tired and watch the rest later. You could save money on cable and movies if you choose Netflix.

I believe that happiness is found “in your mind” instead of “in the world”.  When I seek joy and happiness, I meditate on what I believe to be the truth.

I no longer seek happiness out in the world, I seek happiness in my “inner world”. Sure it may lead to enlightenment, and a sense of inner peace, but on a more practical level, changing my attitude toward money happiness really helps me meet my monthly savings goal.   :-)

Can you do “shift money attitude”?  Do you want to you shift your money attitude?

If you like the bible, think about the 23rd Psalm: “The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”. Stop there. I feel I have achieved this goal in my life when it comes to “physical” wants.

The things I want now are more related to creating more meaningful, happy, and joyful life situations and less about “things”.

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