“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” – Leo Babauta
The way that we handle money as adults is greatly influenced by everything we hear, see and experience in relation to money while we were growing up. For many people the money messages that they receive as children are a confusing and mostly negative combination and this often leads to challenges in managing money effectively as adults. As human beings we’re hard-wired for pleasure; we like to spend time on things that we enjoy and we can get very creative when it comes to avoiding those things that we find difficult or complicated. This is a problem when it comes to finances because if you’re not paying attention to your money there’s a good chance it’s not working as hard for you as it could be. Even when you have good role models the challenge comes in moving past the limits of their expertise and continuing on the path to building wealth.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about finding role models and mentors in the areas of my life where I’m looking to make the most change. I’m starting to see very clearly how the people we surround ourselves with can be instrumental in determining whether or not we succeed and to understand just how critical it is to surround ourselves with people who will help us soar rather than help us make excuses to stay grounded. This is especially important when it comes finding a money mentor because our financial health has a huge impact on our overall wellbeing and our ability to live the life we dream of. A mentor is defined as a “wise and trusted counselor or teacher, someone willing to spend their time and expertise to guide the development of another person” and they come in all shapes and sizes.
Our families tend to be the first money mentors. Watching the way that the adults who raised us handled their money helps us form our first opinions about money, wealth and rich people. Our financial goals as young adults often mirror the goals and values of the adults who influenced us most as children. This can be either positive or negative, depending on how financially savvy those adults were. As parents, it’s important not only to teach our children how to manage their money well but also to model that behaviour for them as well. Our actions really do speak much louder than our words; children learn far more from what they see than they do from what we say.
Related article: Teaching financial responsibility to kids
Our friends are a great source of information and advice, even when we don’t ask for it. Unfortunately, our friends are also adept at helping us justify unnecessary expenses or indulgences and they’re often the reason that we’re tempted into a spontaneous night out or an extra trip to the liquor store! It’s said that we’re the sum of the five people we spend the most time with and this is especially true when it comes to finances. If we spend time with people who value money and are committed to building wealth then there’s a good chance that we will manage our money in a similar way. If most of our close friends love to spend more than they love to save then there’s a good chance that we will do the same. Choosing to spend time with people whose outlook on life is similar to ours makes it easier to reach our goals and reduces the chances that we’ll sabotage ourselves once we start to move into a space which is much different from where we started. A money mentor can help affirm our positive choices and inspire us to avoid making the choices that take us further away from our goals.
Related article: The Sum of Five People
Choosing the right money mentor
When it comes to choosing a money mentor, look for someone who already has what you are working towards. Choosing someone with similar values and a similar approach to life means that there’s a good chance that they will understand your motivators because theirs will be similar. If you can’t find anyone amongst your family and friends who would make a good mentor then you may need to move outside of your social circle in order to find them. It’s said that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and I’m discovering in my own life right now how true that is. As children we’re encouraged to ask adults for advice and information and yet for some reason once we become adults ourselves we often feel as though we’re supposed to magically know everything about everything, especially when it comes to money, and so we stop asking. It seems though, that the people who learn the most, ask the most questions so finding someone with the experience and expertise to answer those questions seems like a smart move. What do you think? In case you are interested in Jim's perspective on Money Mentors, here's his article: Do you have a money mentor?