I don't know, maybe it is just me, but has this thought ever crossed your mind?
I am nowhere close to being where I thought I would be when I envisioned it at 21.”
You have to admit… that thought has crossed your mind at least one time (If it hasn't keep reading, by the end of this article it will).
After high school and the three year anticipation of becoming 21 was over, my mindset shifted from finally being able to legally go to the bar in college, to what the heck am I going to do after college.
At 21 I thought by age 30 I would have it all. Houses, boats, cars, kids, wife (Which I do and I am grateful for) and this inaccurate idea of wealth.
Yet for me (Like many after college), my ambition was curbed and I started settling. s each year passed all those grandiose visions I had at 21 started to fade.
It took a while to realize it, but I finally said to myself, “If the path everyone else is taking isn't making them happy… is it time to think differently?
Is it time to learn how to think different, analyze what is actually working and then go for it?
Related: 5 Rules to Stop Making Money Complicated
It's time to think differently about money.
If you saw the recent Business Insider article where Lauren and I discussed how we combined finances so we can pay down debt, it might have sounded like we had it all together…
But that wasn't always the case.
Quite honestly, it was a bunch of small things that got us to where we are at. Things like picking up a book on accident at the library will studying, which led to getting rid of my truck, which led us to start assessing how we thought about money.
Truth be told, had we not started looking at our debt seriously, living below our means, and planning for the future it is safe to say I wouldn't even be typing this right now.
In other words, it was a progression to think differently about money, but you have to start somewhere. So where should you start?
How do successful people think?
Typically, the best place to start when you want to think differently is too look at how successful people (In your target area, in this case money)
Growing up I always heard to “Be a fruit inspector.” AKA never take advice from someone who doesn't have the fruit on the tree.
For example, if you want to know how to think differently about money, then look at how a millionaire thinks:
- 85% of millionaires read 2 books per month
- Millionaires have multiple streams of income.
- Most millionaires value time over money, yet they have lot's of money.
- Live on a monthly budget.
- The don”t leave money on the table
- Millionaires don't act like the Kardashians
- They avoid debt… like it's their job.
But I get it, sometimes facts and figures don't move anyone. Maybe I speak for myself when I say that, but what moves people (me) is desire and more choices. Thinking differently means learning but also realizing you can….!
- You can make a financial change in your life if you desire to.
- You will need to do things differently, no sugar coating that one.
- There is an adjustment and learning curve whenever you do something new.
- Consistency is key.
- Rome wasn't built in a day, so neither will your financial freedom.
Keeping the 5 tips in mind from above, here is 10 quick steps to start thinking differently about money.
10 Quick Steps to Help You Think Different About Money
Chances are how you have thought about money has gotten you to where you are now. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, it doesn't matter – you can always get better.
Here is 10 steps we took that allowed us to start thinking about money differently:
- Get Real. We realized we had a problem financially when our student loan balance was more then our home. So we got smarter with our money and made adjustments to our lifestyle. AKA… we were REAL about our situation.
- Assess money in terms of %. Stop saying things like it is only $1 more. If something is $3 and you add $1 it is 25% more. Scale that thinking to larger spending items and you will really start to learn how to stop overspending.
- Look at reoccurring payments in 10 year increments. It's only $50 a month, is really $6,000 over the course of 10 years. Make sure you assess your time and reoccurring payments correctly – they all add up in the end!
- Start with small adjustments. Make some minor adjustments to how you live and spend money. Don't go cold turkey on your eating out budget – it might actually have reverse effect.
- Look at others down the road. Lauren and I looked at people 10 to 20 years ahead of us and how they lived. When we saw some people in our professions who had what we didn't necessarily want, it motivated us to do more. On the flip, if your current path looks awesome – keep doing it!
- Stop Comparing Yourself. Easier said then done, but don't compare your crappy day at work to someone else's awesome trip in Hawaii. Stay away from the comparison game and realize there is more context to every situation. Maybe they saved for 4 years to go to Hawaii!
- Stop saying YES to every social event. There are 104 weekend days, 18 or so holidays and countless birthdays. You can basically find something to do 1/3 of the year. For me personally, saying NO is hard, but we had to get real and reduce spending. We also needed to focus. Once you get the hang of saying, NO you'll quickly learn to cherish moments instead of expensive nights out.
- Find a Mentor. Look for people with fruit on the tree that could teach you about money. Can your co-worker who makes just as much as you really help you that much with your finances? No. So find someone who is really good with money to teach you.
- Read up on money topics. It is human nature to sometimes avoid what we don't want to deal with. If you're having trouble learning how to think differently, the best way is (And will always be) reading! Clearly you read, so keep it up! Read up on topics you're not so good at pertaining to money.
- Put your back against the wall. Not literally, but figure out ways to challenge yourself and hold yourself accountable when it comes to thinking differently about money.
My takeaway when thinking differently about money.
Those 10, very simple baby steps above, have helped us immensely. At times, there is a fine line between talking about your experience with money, but also managing not to come across as boasting or knowing it all.
So when I tell people how we paid off $70,000 in student loans in 2018 or how we plan to be debt free outside of our mortgage by 2020, I always peel it back to simple steps.
My advice – take what you can from above and leave the rest for someone else. Maybe some apply to you, maybe some don't. That is the beauty of personal finance.
The only thing I can really say it that it is a process to start thinking differently. However, each small step will add up. Looking back over the course of the last three years we have blown our minds. So who says you couldn't do the same thing?
By no means is every day a walk in the park when you are on a mission to accomplish whatever your goals might be. But, I think transparency and truth goes a long way… so why not think differently about money for a change?
Question: What has helped you think about money differently?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $200,000 in student loans with his wife in less than four years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, helping others with their debt and recommend using Personal Capital to track your finances.