You can have the life you want when you sort your money out. A life that is free of debt stress.
Most of us don’t dream about the insane luxury of private jets, drinking champagne on a yacht and living in a house with gold-plate bathrooms.
We dream about a life that ticks smoothly and we have no worries about money, no nightmares about unpaid bills, late payment notices and eviction orders.
What if I tell you that your dream life is possible?
What if I tell you that the ‘well-wishers’ who have been convincing you to leave you hope of a happy and abundant life behind and avoid disappointment were wrong?
Whatever your dream life is, you must sort out your money. Because, my friend, we live in a time when you need money to nourish your life.
Simple, right? You sort your money out by spending less than you earn and your life becomes a list of fulfilled dreams instead of a catalogue of disappointed intentions.
Why haven’t you done it yet?
Because sorting your money out is not that simple as it is in the worn-out adage of received wisdom.
Part of the difficulty is that it is mostly not about money at all. To sort your money out you must be ready for learning and action by enacting several mental shifts.
Here are the subtle signs that you are ready to sort your money out.
And if you find that you are not ready for this transformation yet, keep practising – change of mentality is a matter of practice just like maintaining a good level of fitness.
Signs you are ready to sort your money out
#1. You venture outside your comfort zone
We like to stick with the familiar – we keep to our routines, act on habits and like the things that remind us of what we have done, heard, and read before. It is not a secret that ‘the familiar’ gives us comfort and a sense of security.
This doesn’t make it right. Staying within the familiar, or within our comfort zone, means that we don’t take risks and don’t develop.
Changing our lives, and the money that nourishes it is unlikely when we stay within our comfort zone. For change and growth, we must venture outside it.
When we were in a lot of debt, my sign that I am ready to sort out our money, and put our lives on a different trajectory, was that I stood at the bottom of a ski slope asking to buy lift passes from the people who were already coming back. This was so much outside my comfort zone that it started an avalanche of change including negotiating a very substantial pay rise for myself in return.
To sort out your money and transform your life, you must break out of your comfort zone.
#2. You no longer see yourself as a victim
Let’s do an experiment.
For the next five minutes, I want you to think about happenings in your life over the last couple of weeks (you may choose to use a longer period; I suggest the last two weeks to make it more specific).
Did you frame your life experiences mainly in terms of what happened to you? Where did you apportion the blame for any mishaps?
Be honest. And if you notice that things happen to you and that it is always someone else’s fault, you have a problem.
To sort your money out you must take responsibility. You must move from a place where life happens to you, to a place where you happen to life.
You are ready when you overcome your victim mentality.
#3. You are ready to try different approaches to money (and life)
When was the last time when you tried something different?
Are you ready to try approaches to money and life that sound unusual?
What is your first reaction when you hear an unusual suggestion? Do you think that it sounds interesting and is worth a try or do you think that hell will freeze over before you try anything like that?
To sort out your money and life, you must develop an open mentality. You must overcome your conservatism and try different approaches and new options.
#4 Where you stand hurts more than change
Some years back, I was telling a friend of mine how much I would love to resign from my professorship, which means leaving my job. My friend, after listening carefully, pointed out that people leave their jobs for two reasons: one, the work situation has become impossible and two, there is something much better lined up in the future.
This made me think again about tending my resignation. Now, I’m thinking that these two conditions apply to any walk of life.
Still, it is not a secret that we act when the pain of our current situation is far greater than our fear of the discomfort change brings.
It means that you are likely to do something to sort out your money and life when the situation is so bad that you have no choice. This is how we paid off all our debt – we either had to do what was necessary to pay it off or lose everything.
#5. You see your situation as a mistake, not as a failure
How do you think of the money pickle, and life issues, into which you have walked?
Do you see them as a failure, or do you see them as a mistake?
It makes a great difference. Seeing the situation as failure is about who you are; seeing the situation as a mistake is about what you have done.
It is always much easier to correct what you do, than transform who you believe you are.
Luckily, your perspective on reality is not set and you can change it.
Practice framing your life situation as a mistake.
#6. You race against yourself, not your friends
Have you heard the expression “keeping up with the Joneses”?
It is all about comparing yourself to others and drawing conclusions about class, wealth, and position in society.
Some will urge you not to ‘keep up with the Joneses” or, out differently, not to compare yourself to other people. Here is the bad news: you cannot avoid comparison because, like adaptation, it is what has kept us alive throughout the centuries. We compare people, situations, tastes and make decisions about acting.
We cannot stop comparing but we can choose what we compare.
When comparing with others, avoid comparing outcomes but compare processes and conditions. For instance, don’t compare your neighbour’s yacht with your fishing dingy; compare your neighbour’s education, skills and investing competence and learn.
Better yet, don’t make your life into a race with others; make it into a race with yourself improving all the time.
#7. You cherish problems and stay away from predicaments
People tend to shy away from problems. I learned to cherish them because problems always have solutions, and these solutions are what help us move forward with our lives.
What I fear and dislike are predicaments. Predicaments have no solution and bring only suffering.
You are ready to sort out your finances when you learn to cherish problems and stay away from predicaments. Better yet, learn to transform your predicaments into problems.
Being stuck on the riverbank with no way to cross it, is a predicament. It has an outcome in that you are stuck. When you start looking for ways to cross the river, you have a problem – build a raft and you can cross, walk to a bridge and you will cross.
#8. You know exactly how much money is in your bank accounts
For years I didn’t know how much money is in my bank account, in my wallet or behind the sofa cushions. Heck, I didn’t know how much my salary is and this wasn’t rocket science – my employer sent me a payslip every month.
I remember this every time people ask me how we found ourselves into £100,000 consumer debt.
Now I know what is in our current (checking), saving, and investment accounts to within several pounds. I track our spending and investments with the obsessiveness of a hunter.
(My husband still doesn’t work in numbers when it comes to money. He talks about ‘a few thousand pounds’ or ‘a few hundred pounds’. This is a major matter of discord between us – making him realise that ‘a few’ is not a number and keeping out of money trouble is about precise numbers and simple arithmetic.)
If you are like my husband and use proxies about your money, you are not ready to sort it out. Get a grip on these numbers, please.
#9. You noticed how much your sugary cereal costs
When I was telling my friend about our debt, and blaming my husband for it, she went to her fridge, took out a pint of milk and asked me how much it costs.
I had no idea, not even within a scale.
To get out of debt and stay debt-free, I had to learn to notice and remember prices. This is the way to know whether a deal is really a good thing. It is also your ammunition informing buying decisions.
Do you know how much your sugary cereal costs? Go and learn if you don’t.
#10. You want something but decide not to buy it
Most people can resist anything but temptation.
When you see something that you want and decide not to have it, you will know that you are ready to sort your money out. Because you are learning to control your ‘wants’.
Are you ready to sort your money out?
How many of these subtle signs that you are ready to sort your money out did you recognise?
Don’t despair if you don’t recognise in yourself most of these. You can develop them, and you can learn.
You only need the hunger for a different life, a life you want to live and the understanding of the conditions you must develop to achieve it. Sorting your money out is one of these conditions.