How To Stop Letting Money Control You

“Money can’t buy happiness”. Or so the popular saying goes. I wholeheartedly agree. Just because money can keep you from becoming depressed due to financial hardships, that doesn’t mean that it’s the ultimate key to happiness.

At the end of the day, I realize that I can pay off all my debt, buy a house, travel, save up a year’s worth of expenses and never want for anything. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be happy. If I didn’t have my family and my health, I’d probably be extremely depressed regardless of how financially savvy I become.

This is why I don’t understand why so many people rely on money like it’s the answer to all their problems.

Realize That Money Doesn’t Solve All Your Problems

I’m sure we’ve all heard a friend of family member say things like: ”I wish I had more money to do xyz”. Or maybe you’ve heard “If only I had enough money I’d be _____”. Getting stuck in this type of mindset opens up the door to you allowing your money to control you and every aspect of your life. It’s okay to want to earn more money. And it’s great to have financial goals. But it’s important not to let it consume you and allow your desire for money to control your life.

Money is easy to obsess over. And it’s common for money to become a powerful and very controlling element of your life. But you don’t have to allow it to get to that point. If you’re tired of seeing your money slip through your fingers and leave you feeling helpless and lost, here are a few ways to help regain control and stop letting money run your life.

View Money as a Tool

Money is simply a tool that you use to do and obtain things that you want out of life. The money itself is an inanimate object. It’s just like a wrench, hammer or any other object you’d find around your home. Money is the ‘how’ that helps you get where you want to be.

When you start prioritizing money itself and giving money a greater purpose in your life, it can easily start to control you. For example, I love to travel and take vacations, but I don’t love money. Money is a tool that helps me provide for my family and do the things that I like to do. That’s all.

Being able to provide for my son and get him school clothes makes me feel great. And while money does contribute to this, it alone doesn’t make me feel happy. Understanding this difference is crucial. You won’t know how to stop letting money control you until you start viewing money as a tool.

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Living paycheck to paycheck sucks. I know how hard it can be to get paid every two weeks. You pay all your bills and still feel like you don’t have enough to make it to the next payday. On payday, you probably feel uppity and treat yourself to a meal or a few small gadgets. The two week stretch between pay periods allows your bank account to get dangerously low. Then payday rolls around again and your spirits are lifted.

This vicious cycle places you under the direct control of your money. When you live paycheck to paycheck, you plan your life around money. And to top it off, you depend on it heavily for your happiness and wellbeing.

In order to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle, you’ll need to start saving heavily. Cut back on your spending, increase your savings rate, start side hustling or get a second job to bring in more income for a few months to boost your savings.

Try to beef up your emergency fund and separately set aside at least one month’s worth of expenses. That way you can start living on the previous month’s income instead of desperately waiting for a paycheck to come in. Knowing how much money you have to spend at the beginning of each month will help you be able to budget better and gain more control over your money.

Pay off Debt and Cut Back on Expenses

Paying on debt each month reduces the amount of money you have in your pocket. That means you have less to save, invest, and spend how you please. The one thing I hated about being in debt was having someone else tell me what I had to pay. I didn’t like seeing a large chunk of my money going to a lender each month. Depending on how much money you owe along with the interest that is being accrued, debt can have a huge hold on you and dictate how you will live your life.

Debt controlled a lot of what I could and couldn’t do with my life. And that’s why I worked so hard to aggressively pay it off and free up more of my income. Paying off debt meant freedom for me. And my freedom, financially and personally, was important.

Other aspects of your financial situation that can dictate where your money goes are your fixed and variable expenses. It’s safe to say that no one likes paying bills. And that includes me. I try to limit the amount of money I pay for utility bills, housing, and other expenses as much as I can. I’d even moved to save money. I did this so I could cut down on fuel expenses, vehicle maintenance, and childcare costs. And, I could continue to live and spend on my own terms and not by what society says I should buy.

Who says you have to spend $100+ per month on cable T.V. or buy an iPhone 6? When you make the conscious decision to be thrifty and cut back on your expenses, you’ll give yourself more say in where your money goes and how much you need to keep each month.

Do More Free Stuff

No matter how much money I end up earning, I will probably never stop finding free things to do and frugal ways to entertain myself. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need a ton of money to have a good time. I also believe that your wallet should never dictate whether you get to relax and enjoy yourself or not. Taking advantage of various different freebies can make you feel more carefree when you don’t have to check your bank account before leaving the house or budget for specific outings.

One month, I gave myself a $0 entertainment budget and it challenged me to get really creative. That was one of the best challenges I could have done. It really opened my eyes to all the free activities my community offered. I didn’t realize that there was so much I could do for free! It helped me break out of that mindset that associated ‘fun’ and ‘entertainment’ with dropping a ton of money.

I don’t have $0 entertainment months every month. But I do have no spend weeks and weekends regularly. It’s not because I don’t have any money to spend, but because I want to. It feels great to bond with your child or do something fun with your friends or family and spend next to nothing.

Automate

When you’re in control of your money, you know what’s coming out at all times. But instead of wasting time paying bills yourself, you can set up autopay and save yourself the stress.

Bonus points are that many companies offer discounts or perks for setting up autopay. And, automating your bill-paying also helps keep you from forgetting to pay and getting charged a late fee.

Pay Yourself First

Paying yourself first is essential to help you stop letting money control you. Besides having an emergency fund, you also need to save for retirement and have savings in place in case you lose a job, need to retire early, or become disabled. By paying yourself from every paycheck (or payday if you make an irregular income) you are setting up your future self for success.

If you don’t have much wiggle room to pay yourself, you can start small and build up your pay over time. For example, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or trying to pay off quite a bit of debt, you can save money by starting a money-saving challenge, or just transfer as little as 1% per paycheck. Something is better than nothing.

How To Stop Letting Money Control You

As you can see, there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure that you control your money, not the other way around. When you learn how to stop letting money control you, you learn how to allow yourself freedom and peace with your money. And anyone, at any stage and income, can do that.

 

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Have you ever felt like your money was controlling you? How can you gain back control?

Stop Worrying About Money and Regain Control

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Ready to regain control of your money? Take the first step with this free starter pack which includes:

  • 2 Monthly Bill Calendar templates
  • 1 ‘Start Paying Off Your Debt’ Checklist
  • 1 ‘Drastically Cut Your Expenses’ Checklist

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Comments

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