What would you say has been your biggest money mistake to date?
Did you spend more than you make?
Did buy something you never used?
Did you invest without doing your research?
Yes, I know. I have made these mistakes as well. (I’m saying this just in case you have somehow got the impression that I’m a money maverick or something.)
I also used to tell people that these are my mistakes. Recently, however, I’ve realised that these are money mistakes; but they are symptoms. Correcting my relationship with money, and transforming my money situation, took going much deeper than the symptoms. I had to find the money mistake that was the reason for the symptom- mistakes.
And if you find what I said confusing just think about it as illness. When you have tummy pains, throw up and run a slight fever these are symptoms that can be cause but a few conditions (reasons). Since I’m ‘a doctor that can’t make people better’, as my son used to say when he was a toddler, I would just mention appendicitis, celiac and food poisoning as possibilities.
I may be wrong about the diagnosis, but I hope you get what I’m saying. You have belly ache (symptom) because your appendix is infected (reason). Similarly, you over-spend, waste money on buying things you don’t need or want and gamble rather than invest for a reason.
Now, let’s look a bit more carefully at the money mistakes we usually mention. Did you notice something about them?
I did. My first ‘aha’ to help me identify the fundamental money mistake I was making, and to help me turn around our money situation, was to realise that all money mistakes I was talking about were about behaviour.
These money mistakes were about what I do (or did); the were about my behaviour.
Getting in so much debt was a big mistake; huge. How did we allow this to happen when we are both highly educated, numerate and don’t completely lack good sense?
In the early 1990s we had our first go at investing in stocks and shares. Do you know what I did? I selected a share in a company (biotech) because I kind of liked the sound of its name (and I’m exaggerating very mildly here). Naturally it didn’t end well and we lost our money; in fact, until recently I would have said that this is my most idiotic money mistake.
An interview with Mrs. Moneypenny made me realise that my behaviour where money is concerned is only the symptom.
My biggest money mistake was one of attitude or way of thinking, if you prefer.
You see, for most of my life, I thought about money as ‘this thing you just buy other things with’. Hence, I had no interest in money at all; just like I have no great interest in things. For me, having a place to live, food so I’m not hungry and clothes that keep me decent and warm has always been enough. (No, I’m not minimalist; toying with the idea of becoming an essentialist, though.) And my behaviour matched my attitude – I wasted my money in so many ways that this, on its own, will make a very long list of money mistakes.
To change my money behaviour – and correct all symptomatic money mistakes I made for decades – I just had to change my attitude towards, or thinking about, money.
I became interested in money, and saving and investing it properly started making sense, when I:
Stopped thinking about money as the ‘thing you buy other things with’;
Started thinking about money as the key to opportunities.
I had to realise that having money offers:
- Peace of mind.
- Freedom and independence to pursue my passions.
- Platform for standing by my moral convictions.
- Dignity in old age.
- Possibilities to do good in the world.
My biggest money mistake was not that I lost money on the stock market. It was that my core values, the things that I passionately believe in, and my money blueprint were mis-aligned.
Now I’m un-ashamedly on a path to wealth. I don’t dream of champagne baths and ice-cream with gold in it. My dream is starting a foundation funding research and social action to tackle some of the major problems of our world.
Do you want to discover your real money mistake?