We carry a lot of beliefs about money in our heads. Sometimes we are aware of these beliefs and even voice them. Sometimes we carry these beliefs very subconsciously. Some of these beliefs are indeed myths. One of the definitions of myths is a widely held but false belief or idea. Today I want to explore some of the common myths we have about money in that sense.
- Money doesn’t grow on trees. Many of us have heard this time and time again. Our parents may have told us this and maybe it is even the same thing we tell our children. On face value this may be true to some extent. However remember a farmer will disagree with this because for them money, actually does grow on trees. Granted you can’t go to a tree and pluck a leaf of money but the reason I called it a myth is because of the scarcity mentality it creates. It makes us think money is this scarce commodity that is hard to make. Once we believe that it is out of reach, we don’t do anything about it.
- A deal will come and sort my life out at some point in time. The belief that some unplanned event will at some unspecified point in time in the future give you this financial windfall that will enable you to sail into the sunset is a myth. Look around you. How many people do you know who have created sustainable wealth that way? That tells us something. So it is not a deal that will sort you out. People create wealth through a process and there is no short cut to that. You might as well then get started as early as possible.
- My pension fund will sort out my retirement. Having a pension fund is fantastic. By all means invest in it and keep it. But many of us think that’s all we need to do for retirement. Therein lies the myth. It’s a good thing to have and may be an essential part of your retirement plan but it will not fund your entire retirement on its own. For arguments sake let’s say your lifestyle today costs you Kshs 100, 000. Next year this exact same lifestyle (i.e. same type of house, fuel, food, grocery shopping etc.) will cost you more. That’s because of inflation. Prices of things will go up. So if you wanted to retire in 15 years you would need over Kshs 400, 000 for the exact same lifestyle. Most probably it will not come solely from your pension fund. You would need to have built up assets that generate this income.
- I will save or invest when I earn more. Are you earning more than you were three years ago? Are you saving or investing significantly more? Most people answer in the negative to this question. This shows us something. We lie to ourselves when we peg saving and investing to earning more money or enough money. Enough simply never comes. Sometimes we hold this magical number in our heads. We tell ourselves once I have Kshs 100, 0000 or Kshs 200, 000 or one million, then I will invest. In reality the best investment for you is the one you can do or figure out how to do today. Waiting to earn more is simply a way of procrastinating and/or keeping us in our usual comfortable routine.
- I will ask for an advance just this once. Do you remember telling yourself that the first time you asked for an advance? It never happens just the one time. It simply becomes a habit. This could literally be a salary advance, or could be the credit card, it could be a trend of taking personal loans, SACCO loans etc. We need to go back and figure out what happened to get us into this cycle. Contrary to popular belief it’s not a one-time emergency. Expenses get out of hand. We start living beyond our means meaning costs have exceeded income. We never rectify this equation and before we know it we are borrowing from everywhere to sustain ourselves. The advance, swipe of the card etc. never happens just once. It will not magically stop without some effort on our part. Get your expenses in check.
- I will get my money in order once I have the “latest”. If there is one thing that is sucking the financial life out of us is trying to keep up. Keep up with others; keep up with the latest etc. That voice in our heads that cheats us that we will find some sort of fulfillment in having the latest gadget, car, clothes etc. But this is what happens. We become addicted to the temporary high the purchase creates. But like any high it fades. And to get the same feeling we go back and buy something else. If your high was based in having the “latest”, there is always a new latest to pull you in. There’s a new phone, a new car etc. It never ends so don’t wait to achieve a certain material status to get your financial affairs in order.
- I can do it on my own. Wealth is never created in solitude. My belief is that this is because wealth is never meant to be enjoyed in solitude. If you are trying to do it by yourself you are limited to your knowledge and your own perception of things. We must always seek to expand how we see things. This could happen through taking a course, going out of your way to speak to people, joining an investment group, working together with your spouse. Remember a solution to your challenge is always a person away.
Let’s drop the myths that are simply keeping us from going to the next level.