In my most recent blog entry I wrote of how you could use the first factor of the model for self motivation, the vision, to motivate yourself to take control of your finances. Today I am writing about how you can also use the third factor of self motivation, environment, to take control of your finances. Each factor of the model for self motivation can have two impacts, it can either help your motivation or it can inhibit your motivation. As it relates to financial matters, unfortunately the impact of social environment is all too frequently negative.
Pressures in our environment play a large part in the financial decisions we make every day of our lives. There’s the pressure from the media that tries to convince us our lives will be worthless without this or that item. There’s the pressure from our families. There is even pressure from our neighbors, whether intentional or not, in that striving to keep up with the Joneses.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot in our social environment to positively influence us in taking control of our finances. As Lee Eisenberg, author of The Number, asks, “Where’s the peer pressure to live small today so that we might live comfortably tomorrow? Where’s the celebrity spokesperson to tell us how way cool it is to eschew the little luxuries of the moment in order to afford a long-term-care policy? Where’s the slick marketing campaign that can convince us to forgo a year’s worth of hair, makeup, and Botox injections to the forehead in order to pay an accountant to tell us we spend too much money and we’d be advised to downsize? And besides, none of our friends or neighbors are doing these things. Without a comparative yardstick, or the peer pressure to keep up with the Joneses’ retirement planning, we are not motivated to save. So we keep up with the Joneses in the usual way: consumption. An iPod for an iPod.”
The good news is we have the power to overcome this fiscally irresponsible assault and stay motivated. The way we do this is by being conscious. We don’t make knee jerk decisions, we make intentional decisions. I read two great suggestions for being conscious. The first was to go grocery shopping with a list and to not buy what is not on the list. Being conscious means not being susceptible to the myriad ways grocery stores tempt you and try to entice you into buying groceries you don’t really need.
The second was to not make a purchasing decision until you had thought about it for at least 24 hours, in other words, no impulse shopping, the very opposite of intentional shopping. If after 24 hours you still want to make the purchase, and thought it was important, you could buy it.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, one of my recent purchases was a wide screen tv. along with a Blu-ray player. I spent considerable time shopping for the right tv, and before I purchased them, I carefully considered the following things: 1) I didn’t have a TV, 2) I needed occasional down time from my full time job, and work on my new career, and 3) so long as I limited myself to dvd’s – I was not going to install cable- I would be limiting my spending to the $43 monthly toward the principal, and 9.99 monthly to Netflix. This was conscious spending.
Staying conscious is the best way to resist the temptations in our environment. By resisting, we can stay motivated as we take back control of our finances.
A tip of the hat to www.debtspiration.com for inspiration on this blog.