GOLDEN RULES

Central Otago Mirror - - FOOD FOR THOUGHT -

rob.stock@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

How you see your­self mat­ters when it comes to money.

All of us have a sense of our own per­sonal iden­tity, and if asked to de­scribe our­selves, we could.

Some of what would come out of our mouths would be self­af­firm­ing.

‘‘I’m a de­cent man.’’

‘‘I’m a woman who cares about others.’’

‘‘I’m fun.’’

‘‘I value fam­ily.’’

That’s lovely. We all need to bol­ster our egos to face up to the day, but some of what would come out of our mouths would point to why we fail in our money lives.

I’m not a great pro­po­nent of neuro lin­guis­tic pro­gram­ming, where you re­peat ‘‘I’m a suc­cess, I’m a suc­cess...’’ each morn­ing a hun­dred times while look­ing at your re­flec­tion in the mir­ror.

But I do be­lieve we give our­selves ex­cuses for not do­ing some of the things we know we should.

A grand in­sight into how ex­cuses are let­ting us down with money came in an un­usual docu- Stop ly­ing to your­self

Start learn­ing to speak money Make your plans

ment sent to MPs by the gov­ern­ment-funded Com­mis­sion for Fi­nan­cial Ca­pa­bil­ity.

In it the com­mis­sion com­pared the ways peo­ple char­ac­terised them­selves with the state of their money lives.

It found those of us who are bad with money tended to say things like: ‘‘I live for to­day’’.

They also tend to de­scribe their de­ci­sion-mak­ing style as ‘‘spon­ta­neous’’.

In ad­di­tion, they ad­mit to wor­ry­ing about pay­ing their nor­mal living ex­penses, and do not see eye-to-eye with their part­ners in how money is spent and saved.

By con­trast, peo­ple who are fly­ing along in their money lives say pretty much the ex­act op­po­site.

They de­scribe their de­ci­sion­mak­ing style as ‘‘planned’’.

They de­scribe them­selves as hav­ing a ‘‘nat­u­ral’’ ten­dency to save, or a sav­ing ‘‘mind­set’’.

And they aren’t prone to bick­er­ing with their other half about money.

There are lessons here.

The first is to stop giv­ing our­selves ex­cuses to make the wrong de­ci­sions.

No­body is in­her­ently ‘‘bad’’ with money. There are just peo­ple who for var­i­ous rea­sons have their money lives in con­trol, and others who haven’t.

As Diane Maxwell, who heads the com­mis­sion, puts it, many of us have ‘‘so­phis­ti­cated self-de­fence and self-de­nial mech­a­nisms’’.

Learn­ing how to be bet­ter with money isn’t es­pe­cially hard, but you have to try.

It re­ally is a case of de­cid­ing to be bet­ter, and then tak­ing it step by step.

If you’re not sure what you are do­ing with Ki­wiSaver, make April the month you learn about it.

Watch Youtube videos on sav­ing. Call up your Ki­wiSaver provider. Work out which kind of fund you should be in. It isn’t hard.

If you haven’t got an emer­gency sav­ings buf­fer, make May the month you set your­self a strat­egy to get one.

Years ago I spoke with Bri­tish au­thor Matthew Lanch­ester about his book ‘‘How to Speak Money’’.

He went from fi­nan­cial il­lit­er­ate to speak­ing money flu­ently by do­ing just a lit­tle each week.

Any of us can do the same, but only if we choose to be the kind of per­son who does things like that.

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