When you’re trying to gain control of your finances, sometimes all it takes is having the right attitude in order to make it work.
Some people are so quick to make excuses and blame other people or unforeseen circumstances regarding their financial situation. I see it all the time – and I’m guilty of it too. We make choices every day, and every choice we make has consequences. Some are good, and some are bad, but they are all an outcome of the choices that we have personally made. Taking credit for the good choices is always fun, but when the results are bad, it is a lot easier just to point the finger at someone or something else.
Here’s an example: I know someone who has taken out in excess of $45,000 in student loans – sounds familiar, right? When she graduated from university, she was shocked to find out what her monthly payments were going to be, how long the amortization period was, and that she had been accruing interest during her “grace” period immediately after graduating.
Over the course of one Skype conversation, she had blamed her parents (for not teaching her about how to manage/save her money), her teachers (for not telling her that her degree would be “useless”), the government (for not being more clear about the terms of the loan), the university (for costing too much) – and her grandma (for giving her sister $2,000 towards school, but not her).
Even though she spends more than she makes, even though she got to decide what degree to take, even though the terms of the student loan were written clearly on the paperwork she signed, even though it’s not her grandma’s job to pay for her education – she blamed everyone but herself.
It’s natural to pass the blame. I find myself doing it all the time:
- “Traffic on the highway made me late”, even though I woke up 15 minutes late, and traffic is the same almost every day.
- “I can’t afford to work out because the gym costs too much” even though I have a bicycle, hiking boots, and running shoes.
When I was in debt, I was constantly blaming my low-paying job for not allowing me to save, my credit cards for their high interest rates, and my car for always breaking down. But it’s not my employer’s fault I was spending more than I made. It wasn’t my credit card’s fault for charging me because I was living above my means. And it certainly wasn’t my car’s fault that I never properly maintained it.
Of course, there are plenty of external factors that can (and do) play a role in any financial situation, but even those can be tremendously altered by our actions and behaviours.
However, with each misfortune I faced (which I felt was making my life significantly more difficult than everybody else’s), it became harder and harder to pass the blame when it was clear that every separate problem had one thing in common: ME. I knew my bad attitude was holding me back from trying to figure a way out of the crappy situation I had put myself in.
When we have a bad attitude towards money, and we’re constantly acting like a victim, we are immediately setting ourselves up for failure. It seems childish to blame the world limits for our choices, and when we’re only focusing on the negatives, it’s nearly impossible to create new opportunities in order to improve our situation.
The victim mentality allows us to stay safe from the reality that our lives are the way they are because of us. It takes a lot of courage to take responsibility for our own actions. It means that our decisions will now determine every success and every failure in our lives – and that’s scary! But what’s even scarier is never making financial progress, and continuing the downward spiral to financial disaster.