What’s More Important: Your Financial Behavior or How Much You Make?

What’s more important to you? It seems people put an incredible amount of thought into how much they make, but is that the smart thing to do? I mean making good money is definitely important, but should we wrongly list it as numero uno? What about behavior? Ignoring that is kind of like trying to disarm a nuclear explosive without ever having built a bomb. It’s going to EXPLODE! In that situation you have two choices; get out of the way, or blow everything up!

Handling money without realizing you do not possess the habits necessary to manage it well, will most certainly lead to your financial destruction. First things first, you have to learn how to behave with your money. Your behavior IS EVERYTHING!!

In our culture we seem to take that enormous detail for granted, all while spending our resources with very little consideration for the consequences to come. Are we just ignorant, or do we knowingly ignore the truth hoping we get lucky? That’s a very interesting question, but I can tell you from experience that I had moments where I knew I was spending myself into a mess. It’s impossible to ignore, but for some reason it’s just too darn convenient to not let it slide. I believe that anyone with debt, that fully intends on paying it back, has that same feeling. Have you had that feeling before?

You know the feeling. Uneasiness, stress, anxiety, and sometimes even depression. Sometimes it’s really hard to make ourselves take a clear look at our situation. Fear gets the best of us, and we decide that not knowing the truth is better than finding out we are broke. But for some reason we still think something like, “If I just made more money…..” Perhaps we’ll find a way to make more money but what happens next? We still have not addressed the behaviors that caused us to need to make more money in the first place, so instead of making our situation better, we make it 10 times worse.

Knowing how to take control is a bit overwhelming, but at some point you just have to muster up the courage to fight. Better that it happens in the beginning rather than the end of your life when absolutely all hope is lost. In order to deal with the behavior that got you where you are, you have to figure out what impacts your behavior the most.

What causes you to behave the way you do with your money?

What about attitude, marketing, impulse spending, emotion, and entitlement-thinking? Is it a lack of contentment or self-esteem? Some of us even behave badly with our money because of stress, as a way to cope or mask a deeper issue. You cannot argue that sometimes it’s even our family and friends that encourage us to misbehave financially. Guilt and shame sometimes lead us into submission as well.

“What do you mean you can’t come up with $100 to get our mother the wheelchair she’s been wanting?”

“Oh come on, it’s my wedding. I know it’s halfway across the country but I’m only going to get married once.”

“You know I’m good for it, I just need a co-signer. The bank doesn’t know me like you do.”

Peer pressure isn’t something we only experience in high school never to see again. It is very real and a very big part of our society. If you don’t have the right clothes on, watch the right DVD’s on your special blu-ray player, on the right size plasma television that you carried home in your social-status-on-wheels—you are a no one!! I mean where do you get off being married for thirty minutes without already having a house? I could go on, and by “could go on”, I mean I could talk about how in order to behave this way, most of us have to go into debt to do it.

“Thanks family and friends and the rest of society!”

Here’s the deal though. It’s not your family and friends or even society’s fault! It’s not, it’s totally and completely your fault!! What you have done up to this point with your money is all because of how you behaved (or didn’t behave). As Dave Ramsey says, until you look in the mirror to find the real culprit behind your financial mess, the mess will likely get bigger and bigger.

Remember the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper? The grasshopper was cold and hungry because the grasshopper was worried too much about what he could enjoy, and not enough about what he actually needed.

I have been guilty of thinking that making more money would solve my problems, but I have also been broke, in debt and stressed out the wazooo. It wasn’t until I stopped blaming others and realized I was the problem that I was able to face my behaviors head on. It’s so obvious to me now, that you can make $500,000 a year and still be broke and in debt up to your eyeballs. BUT if you know how to manage your money, even if you make way less, you can always find a way to make it grow. I’d rather have to figure out a way to make it grow than to figure out how to climb out of a 150 foot hole without getting my million dollar suit dirty…wouldn’t you?

What would you rather have: a bigger income with bad financial behaviors, or have great financial habits which will usually lead to bigger income?

About Brad Chaffee

15 Responses to “What’s More Important: Your Financial Behavior or How Much You Make?”

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  1. Yana says:

    I’d rather behave as I do financially, managing money the way I like to. I like to make the most of everything and avoid waste, and don’t like being in a position that requires lots of spending. “Make more money” kind of falls on deaf ears with me, because I would do so only if I didn’t have to compromise other rules I make. Making more money is not worth it if I have to further violate my own principles. Instead, I strive to get more value for the dollar.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I like how you think Yana. My favorite part:

      “I would do so only if I didn’t have to compromise other rules I make.”

      That is an awesome way to look at things! Sacrificing character, happiness, and any other principles you choose to live by isn’t worth it in the end. Stick to what makes you YOU! 😀

  2. Young Mogul says:

    To me, it’s a no-brainer that behavior matters more than income. Look at all of the entertainers who make millions, only to end up bankrupt. Like you stated in your post, most people fall victim to peer pressure, whether it’s “regular folk” or celebs. If one can’t manage a little money, he certainly can’t manage a lot of money. More money just allows us to be more of who we really are–whether good or bad.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      You hit that one right on the head. If one can’t manage a little bit of money he certainly can’t manage a lot of it! 🙂

      It reminds me of a song that was popular when I was in high school. More Money More Problems. Or maybe it was Mo Money Mo Problems. LOL

  3. Behavior matters way more than income. My husband and I are way better off making about $80k a year jointly then people we know that make $150k plus. We spend less than we earn and save 30%-40% of our income. They don’t. Easy math.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      You said it, I know people who make WAY MORE than my wife and I and they are just as broke as someone living in poverty. I would like to think that the recession woke people up but I know how easily people forget. It’s really a sad state of affairs.

  4. Donna says:

    It is behavior definitely. No amount of money can stand up against bad behavior as attested in the previous post. Humility is my best friend in everything I do including handling my money.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Way to go Donna! It’s why people who win the lottery are broke 5-10 years later with absolutely nothing to show for it except for a foreclosure notice.

  5. Jan says:

    My mother in law inherited $500,000 and within ten years, blew it ALL on QVC shopping. That’s behavior. Prior to getting the money she was blowing some of their income on QVC, but once the money came it was like a blowout.

    Now her house is falling down around her ears, it is quite literally a rat house, surrounded by boxes, many unopened, except by the teeth of rats, all bearing a postmark from QVC. It’s sad. You have to walk through a maze of boxes to get through the house.

    She will not pay someone to come in and clean the house, cook for her or even throw the stupid boxes away.

    We have tried, but she’s so awful to be around that we have stopped even trying. The health department has thrown up their hands. But the mailman has more boxes to deliver, even today. Because hey! Social Security checks come out soon, so there’s more money to be spent.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      I am literally salivating over what I would do if I had $500,000. I certainly wouldn’t have a house full of QVC boxes that’s for sure. The fact that you state she has so many unopened boxes suggests that she is merely buying for the sake of buying, which I guess is obvious. It just goes to show that our emotions cause us to sometimes buy things that will eventually lose their novelty fairly quickly.

      Kids are a GREAT example of this. You buy them a toy that they just love and 5 days later they are playing with the cardboard box it came in. LOL

  6. ctreit says:

    I agree with you and others in the comment section. A higher income finds a way to be spent unless you have the right mindset. We wrote something similar on our blog a little while ago. The Queen of England has a hard time with a budget of $12 million per year. http://www.moneyobedience.com/blog/setting-up-a-budget/a-household-budget-of-12-million-tough-to-make-ends-meet/

  7. Suzanne says:

    The more you make the more you spend. I find this to be true of most people, myself included! I recently read a blog where the couple planned to live on one income and save the other. This is a great way to build savings and live within your means. Check it out here: http://c1c.bz/aiy
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