At Finance Master Financial Wellness, a national nonprofit organization, we extensively contemplate the factors that influence individuals’ financial behaviors. Our clients also share this interest. Generally, a habit refers to the automatic and repetitive actions we engage in.
When it comes to personal finance, a habit can be described as the customary and recurring approach we employ. Many of us handle our finances in a routine manner, often without recognizing any repeated patterns.
For instance, some common money habits include immediately spending money after receiving a paycheck, such as treating loved ones to a meal or ordering food from a restaurant. Another money habit may involve late-night online shopping or making annual donations to a preferred charity. The key point is that money habits occur regularly and without much conscious thought.
Your Money Habits
When speaking with clients about their specific challenges, Finance Master financial counselors find it beneficial to have a conversation about their money habits and behaviors. April, a client from California, expressed her appreciation for her Finance Master counselor who not only discussed her money habits, but also provided options to help her overcome her financial burden.
The counselor also helped April and her family understand the driving factors behind their decisions and impulses, giving them a sense of hope. Our views of the world, including our money habits, are influenced by a variety of factors such as family experiences and social media. These habits, whether it be spending, saving, investing, or budgeting, are often shaped by our past experiences.
How we relate to finances is very much related to what we experienced in our families, and the money lessons people experience across the generations.
Perhaps our parents were not comfortable spending money and had a distrust when it comes to taking on debt. Or maybe we witnessed a family life where there was a high tolerance for spending and taking on loans for purchases both big and small. Whether we were in families that were big spenders or big savers, or somewhere along the spectrum, many people can identify with the role their family’s played in their money habits.
Movies, television shows and social media often romanticize the appeal of beautiful homes, nice cars, new gadgets, and brand-name clothing and jewelry. The media plays a big role in emphasizing the desire to have the latest and greatest of everything – despite the realities of our financial situation.
While the entertainment industry is a big part of our media diets, our social media feeds serve up a never-ending stream of photos and updates showing off expensive vacations, cars, elaborate events and more. As a result, many of us are tempted to “keep up with Joneses” and by ramping up our spending.
If spending is getting out of hand, for instance, due to the pressures of keeping up with a friend’s social posts, it might be time to slow down and take a hard look at spending. This is a significant influence on our money habits.
Attitudes and perceptions about how we handle our money are also influenced by the larger culture. For those living in a culture of consumption, the “buy now, pay later” philosophy is everywhere. For those in a culture that puts an emphasis on economic restraint, that philosophy and influence is likely quite different.
While cultural influences affect how we view money, we also have the power to choose how we interpret cultural exceptions. Many people turn the “conspicuous consumption” influence into a positive effect to encourage good money habits. They might see the cultural behaviors as life lessons on what not to do.
Know Your Money Habits
Habits are powerful!
Each of us has our own unique set of values and beliefs about money. Some people prioritize saving for the future, while others prefer to enjoy the present. Our values and beliefs shape our attitudes toward money and affect how we choose to spend, save, or invest.
Where do you stack up when it comes to money habits – especially when it comes to credit card debt?
All told, knowing your money habits is a good step toward financial health and wellness.