For those who thought they were going to read a “lecture like” blog today, you’re in for a surprise. Sometimes, no matter how many finance and investment degrees you have, nothing beats sharing your personal finance journey and being open and honest with others and yourself. So, today, I just want to give you a glimpse of how I’ve come to understand my relationship with money and how I’m slowly changing my perspective of money so that I become its master rather than the other way around.
I, by no means, come from a silver spoon-fed family. My parents were the first generation of their families to somewhat be able to move out of the township and live in formerly white neighbourhoods in the early 2000s. I think back then, that was really the goal of any young black person. My parents worked hard for every cent they had. My dad has been a devoted Metro Police cop for more than 20 years and my mom obtained her psychology and teaching degree to get the best jobs she could. We had enough money to buy everything we needed, and maybe here and there, get a few things we wanted. Subconsciously, I formed a scarcity filled perspective of money. In my mind, I would think: “I can’t ask for that phone because my parents have to pay for my school fees”, or “I won’t even ask because I know my parents would say no”.
However, I would say the restraint that came with my upbringing helped me know which purchases were a necessity and which ones were not, I will say that it really damaged the way I viewed money. No one around me encouraged me to find ways of making money, investing money, saving money, or even spending money on things like assets. All I knew about money was the fact that it was hard to make, it's there to help you survive in a highly capitalistic world and once it is there, it will never stay too long.
I think the highest tragedy in the black community, that I almost became a victim of, is thinking that money is there to service our basic needs only. Look around you. How many people in townships, rural areas and in urban areas wake up every day to go get “the bag” with the limited mindset that it will help them buy basic goods and services, get a new car here and there to show off on Instagram and maybe take a vacation. Am I demonizing these things? Absolutely not. But I would put it for your consideration to see how our very limited perspective of money prevents us from seeing it as a tool. I for one did not see it as a tool that existed outside of me.
Essentially, yes, we need money to move, eat and experience all corners of the world. But seeing money from this perspective prevents us from asking ourselves how we can use money as a tool to build our dreams and contribute to the world becoming a better place. Before I underwent my own personal journey of transformation, I realized that the money I had as a student only revealed my scarcity mindset. Because I was so used to not having money, being scared to ask for it (literally, I would tremble when I would ask my parents for money, even if it were for something I needed) and felt like it was hard to make, every cent I’d have would leave my bank account within less than 3 days. I would just find ways to spend it frivolously on things I did not even need. I could never ever leave a mall without walking out with an outfit, new makeup, or something trivial that would yield no return. Yes, a whole financial literacy company founder! I look back now, and I realize that our minds can keep us in bondage. I thought that the money lessons my parents taught me, or lack thereof were normal. As soon as I started becoming intentional about living a purpose-driven life, things started to change. That is when I started seeing money as a tool.
We need to start viewing money the same way we view a tin opener. Hold on if you are confused, I might bless you with this analogy. You have zero attachments to a tin opener. You simply reach for it in a time of need to solve a problem and reach the end goal, which in this case is a fully cooked meal using whatever is in the tin. After using it, you rinse it and put it back into the kitchen drawer. Soon after that, you forget about it and move on with life. You do not attach your aspirations, ideals, value, sense of being and happiness to the tin opener. That is how we should view money. We should have zero attachments to our money because it really is just a piece of paper that is a method of storing value. The question is, do we know if we even are buying things of value? For a long time, I did not know that the tool I had in my bank account was powerful. Your money is a tool for you to start your business, get a degree, start an NPO and contribute to our economy. The sooner I started realizing this, its as if the scales fell off my eyes. I came to understand that there really was no need to have anxiety around money or fear. And even in moments when I do not have money, there is no need for me to feel uncomfortable at all. Do you feel like crying when you do not have a tin opener? No. Zero attachments=Zero Anxiety.
We all need to break our poverty mindsets and step into the realm of understanding what money can do for us. And yes, if you grew up in a middle-class family like me, just making it month to month, you have got of mental unwiring to do. But you know what the beauty of life is. It is captured in the poem Invictus by William Earnest Henley:
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul
Change your money mindset, become the master of your money and watch things turn around for you! For more, join our growth list to stay in the loop with our blogs, as well as other content to sharpen your financial literacy. Follow us on Instagram and Linkedin.
Author: Sthandiwe Msomi