What do you believe is the key to being successful with money?
In the past, many people thought that being successful with money simply meant being rich. People were believed to be wealthy based on the traditional telltale signs such as having a certain job title, a large house, expensive cars, taking regular and luxury holidays and wearing designer clothes, for example.
Thankfully, that limited and exclusive way of thinking is changing. In recent times, we are looking more at what being wealthy really means.
While having a big house, expensive cars and all those other material items can be a sign of wealth (they can also be a sign of debt!), they don’t always command automatic levels of respect and envy as they used to.
These days, being wealthy means less about the number of zeros in your bank balance and more about having or earning enough to live on without the constant stress of worrying about money.
It is being grateful for the money you have. It is having enough to have freedom of choice, so you can use it to live life on your terms.
It is feeling secure, knowing you earn enough to comfortably pay your mortgage. It is being able to sleep easier as you know you have an emergency fund in place that will cover any financial shocks such as a recession, loss of a job, or unexpected home or car repairs.
It is the sense of abundance, knowing you can take your family out for a nice dinner or on a holiday if you choose to. Being in a place only if you want to, not because you feel you should show off how wealthy you are.
It is the sense of achievement we have when we make an investment we understand and believe in. And the subsequent sense of achievement and excitement when we see that investment grow.
Success with money means we can have more freedom, choice and security. It is feeling so secure in your own choices, wealth and financial security that you feel happy for the Joneses and all they have — but have no desire to compare yourself with or compete with them.
What can be surprising to many is that you do not need vast amounts of money to achieve this.
I work with families who earn what others would consider a mediocre salary. Yet, they are more abundant and feel wealthier and live freer than other families who earn several times more.
What is the difference between them? It can be a combination of factors, but their money mindsets play a major role.
I worked with a family of four recently whose income is Dh22,500 a month. Another family of four earned a total monthly income of Dh95,000. The family earning Dh22,500 was saving, experiencing less stress and more content in their day-to-day lives. And they were starting to invest for their future.
The family earning Dh95,000 was experiencing more stress, worry and arguments over money. They had investments from the past but were not saving any money and they did not understand why.
There is never one reason for a difference in situations like this. Each individual and family have their own identities, belief systems, ambitions and mindsets.
Yet, what does come up repeatedly is their attitude towards money: their money mindsets. How they feel about what they have, what others have in comparison and what they feel they should do with their money.
The lower-earning family felt content with what they earned. They used their money intentionally and only in areas that felt important to them. They consciously managed their money and practised gratitude for it in every way they used it.
The higher-earning family felt something was missing. They expressed feelings of stress over not having enough money. They wished they had more. They feared for their futures. They focused only on where they were lacking, rather than where they had abundance.
There was a sense of hopelessness in their language around money. They were not consciously managing their money and when we analysed their spending, there were many examples of unplanned, emotional and reactionary spending, most of which, upon reflection, they would happily forgo to save that money.
Their sense of hopelessness often meant they spent “just because” or to receive a momentary reprieve from their stress.
So, they were bleeding money in areas that didn’t add to their lives and only drove the cycle of hopelessness even deeper.
Money is energy. It is a tool we need to live our lives. In the same way our bodies need food, we need money to go about our daily lives. It is not a reflection of who we are or what we are worth as people.
Having more money does not make one person better or more worthy than another. It is our feelings towards what we have that will determine our sense of wealth.
In my experience, the happier we are with what we already have, the more we attract and the quicker our wealth grows.
Carol Glynn is the founder of Conscious Finance Coaching