• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

How practising gratitude forever changed my relationship with money

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Have you ever had the “more” mindset? You know, where it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or what you have — you always want more? Maybe you want to earn more money, have a nicer house, or buy a better car.

I used to be the same way.

I’d set financial goals, hit them, and then immediately set other, bigger goals. I was never satisfied. I felt like I deserved better. I wanted more.

After a year of struggling to keep my head above water, I had a mental shift. Things were tough for my two kids and me; we were on our own, living on a poverty wage. But I avoided debt, built up some savings, and made it work.

It was a year full of hard work and sacrifices. And during that year, I started practising gratitude. It was the only way I could stay positive.

Being thankful for what I have started to become a daily routine, one which has stuck with me. And since then, my entire relationship with money has changed.

Here’s how being grateful has made me a better manager of money:

The power of gratitude

I want less

Every night, before I go to bed, I count my blessings. I recognise how truly lucky I am compared to millions of other people in the world who have no homes, no food, and poor health.

When you think about the hand you’ve been dealt in life, you start to realise how incredibly fortunate you are. And since I can now recognise this, I want less. Material items and status symbols have become a thing of the past, because I’m more interested in nurturing my relationships and giving back than I am in having the latest smart phone or car. Not only has this been good for my soul, it’s been good for my bank account.

I treat my dollars as employees

When I was first out on my own, I had to make my money work. I only earned around $20,000 a year, so I had no choice but to stretch every dollar as far as possible.

Debt wasn’t an option. In fact, I was determined to take care of my family and build an emergency fund on my salary. I got creative, slashed my expenses in any way I could, found some side work, and started saving.

I was grateful for every single dollar I could add to my emergency fund, and I learned to use my money as a tool. Frivolous spending was out of the question; my dollars were now my employees, and I was going to tell them what to do.

Now that I have some breathing room in my budget, I do allow myself to spend money on the little things that bring happiness to my family and me — but I don’t take my money for granted.

I feel compelled to give back

Just a few years ago, I would’ve had a hard time giving my money away to good causes. I felt entitled to my money: I deserved it.

I don’t feel that way anymore. I understand how incredibly lucky I am to be living the life I’m living, and I feel compelled to help others who aren’t as fortunate. Ten dollars is far more valuable to someone who’s starving than it is to me. I truly want to help other people improve their lives in any way possible — whether that means giving my time or my money.

Your turn

The next time you feel jealous when your co-worker gets a promotion, your friend buys a new BMW, or your neighbour seems to be effortlessly remodelling every room in his house, count your blessings. Focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t have.

Practising gratitude isn’t going to transform you overnight, but I promise: if you stick with it, your relationship with money will change for the better.