Posted by Tim Stobbs on June 2, 2008
It seems to me one of the great problems around money is this complete disconnect between the time it takes us to earn the money and the ease at which we can spend it. For example, I recent bought new patio furniture which took me almost exactly ten minutes to walk into the store, find some help and buy it. Spending the money was extremely easy. Swipe the card and sign here. Yet in real terms it took me 25 hours of my life to earn the money to buy that patio set.
So what has happened? When did the disconnect start and what are some of the outcomes of it?
Well in my mind I think the disconnect really started to take hold when everything started over to electronic means. My pay cheque is automatically deposited to my account and my bills come out automatically as well. Not to mention most of my savings are automatic transfers. Basically my money can just about run itself without me looking at anything other than my Visa bill. So with all this happening without me it feels a bit surreal. I can spend a $100 on line with nothing more than a couple of clicks of a mouse.
This leads to us being disconnected from our money in terms of the time it takes to earn it. Actually because of this reason I can understand how people get into problems with spending. It all doesn’t seem real and if you have the money at the end of the month to pay your credit card bill you don’t worry about it too much. That is until you start to carry a balance and then from there things can get out of control. This is where the danger can happen with becoming too disconnected from your money. Your spending can easily slip from with in your means to over your means.
So how do you get in touch with your money? I personally like keeping some spending as cash. That way I can look at my wallet right now and tell you how much cash I have left to spend. It provides a real and instant feedback on your spending for that period of time. It’s hard to justify spending $20 on a new DVD when you know you only have $20 in your wallet and you have a week to go to pay day and you know you need some milk and fruit for the house. Not to mention I find it easier to say no to things, like a lunch out, when I have no cash in my wallet. The cash spending doesn’t have to be a large amount to get the point across: money is a finite resource. So you have to use it wisely.
Now that being said, cash doesn’t have to be the only means of keeping in connected to your money. Some people can handle it by just keeping a running total in there head of their spending for that week. Others have used a notebook to track spending or even software. The idea is the same, you should always try to have an idea of where your money is going and why. That way you actually stay connected to your money and make sure it is working for you and not you working for it.