CityPress - - Business -

Some­one re­cently told me a story about a mem­ber of his com­mu­nity who had fallen on hard times. He had gone from be­ing a wealthy busi­ness­man to some­one who strug­gled to make ends meet. He had gone to his friend for ad­vice on what to do about his fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion. The friend replied that he had to sell his R2 mil­lion in­vest­ment car. Not only could he not af­ford to keep up the in­sur­ance pay­ments, but it would gen­er­ate cash he could use to set­tle other debts.

The busi­ness­man re­fused, stat­ing that to be suc­cess­ful, he had to look suc­cess­ful. He be­lieved his car made other peo­ple see him as im­por­tant be­cause with­out that car, he would be no­body.

This story came to mind while read­ing Mavis Ureke’s Man­ag­ing Emo­tions for Fi­nan­cial Free­dom, where she talks about the ex­tent to which we equate money with emo­tional well­be­ing.

As Ureke points out, while one has to feel wor­thy of fi­nan­cial suc­cess to achieve suc­cess, you do not have to achieve suc­cess to feel wor­thy. Yet this busi­ness­man’s en­tire self-worth was de­pen­dent on how he was por­trayed in his com­mu­nity be­cause, like so many peo­ple, his self-worth was de­pen­dent on his fi­nan­cial suc­cess, and when the fi­nances went wrong, his en­tire world fell apart.

Ureke goes on to talk about how so many of us equate suc­cess with life­style or sta­tus and how suc­cess is tied to the life­style we live, the car we drive and the clothes we wear.

“A per­son may de­cide to look like it and act as if they have it, and the un­der­ly­ing be­lief might also be that if you look suc­cess­ful, then you will be suc­cess­ful,” writes Ureke.

The point Ureke makes so well in her book is that we need to un­der­stand the value sys­tem we at­tach to money, and also learn that hav­ing money, or not, does not de­ter­mine who we are as peo­ple. She sees money as an en­ergy that is in con­stant flow, so some­times we earn it, save it, spend it or lose it.

One thing we know from watch­ing peo­ple be­com­ing mil­lion­aires overnight is that money does not bring hap­pi­ness.

This does not mean that Ureke does not be­lieve in fi­nan­cial suc­cess – quite the op­po­site. The book was borne out of her jour­ney of tak­ing con­trol of her money and mov­ing out of fi­nan­cial chaos.

In un­der­tak­ing the jour­ney, she re­alised that her money mis­takes would never stop un­less she un­der­stood why she made them, and un­der­stood why she con­tin­u­ously sab­o­taged her fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity.

In her book, Ureke de­fines fi­nan­cial free­dom not only as a phys­i­cal state where one has enough money not to work or know­ing that you will not be a bur­den on your chil­dren; but in hav­ing the “abil­ity to man­age the money you have in such a way that it does not leave you with anx­i­ety, re­gret, anger, shame and fear”.

Ureke says that, ul­ti­mately, fi­nan­cial free­dom is when you are “not a ser­vant to money, but money is in­stead your ser­vant, mean­ing it obeys you, and when you say come, it moves to­wards you”.

As you can gather, this book is not your tra­di­tional fi­nance book. It does not teach you how to bud­get or in­vest, but rather it deals with the rea­son you may not be reach­ing your fi­nan­cial goals and how you are sub­con­sciously sab­o­tag­ing you own suc­cess.

This re­quires deep re­flec­tion of our own money val­ues – val­ues that have been in­grained in us from a young age through the way our fam­i­lies man­aged money, or per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences where we per­haps suf­fered a fi­nan­cial loss.

So it starts with un­der­stand­ing who you are and what it is you value.

Ureke uses the seven lev­els of aware­ness used by lead­er­ship coaches to as­sess your per­sonal level of money aware­ness.

Based on a ques­tion­naire, you can as­sess whether you man­age your money as a sur­vivor, con­former, as­pi­rant, in­di­vid­u­a­tor, dis­ci­pliner, ex­pe­ri­encer or a mas­ter.

For ex­am­ple, a sur­vivor is some­one who ig­nores money prob­lems, has fall­outs with fam­ily and friends about money, and tends to be a com­pul­sive buyer.

Ureke de­scribes this level of aware­ness as some­one who sees them­selves as a vic­tim, some­one who blames other peo­ple for their fi­nan­cial predica­ment and shifts

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