Gratitude is such an important trait to pursue and meditate on as frequently as possible. It can really change the way we think about ourselves, our lives, our health, our finances, among other things. This week being Thanksgiving, I feel sharing things I’m grateful for is important. I love seeing how gratitude has transformed our finances and handling of them.
We have so much to be thankful for this year. We have:
- A beautiful family of four healthy people.
- Big, extended family that loves and supports us.
- Church that we are involved in.
- A roof over our heads to protect and warm us from the elements.
- Luxuries in our lives that others in the world only dream of. (This includes things like Internet access, a washer and dryer, two cars, a garage, a cell phone, things like this.)
- A mentality of abundance that leads to contentment.
- Food in our bellies and in our home that allows us to think of other things.
These things may seem simple and general to some. However, adapting an attitude of gratitude on these things can really transform your finances in many ways.
An attitude of gratitude affects your money mindset.
Being thankful instead of being entitled will get you much further in life. If you are going to just focus on things that you think the world owes you, you are going to be disappointed every time. Take a look at the next 5 ways that an attitude of gratitude can root itself deep inside of you and help you have a positive effect on your finances.
Contentment allows for us to spend less.
Gratitude helps us change from being “us” focused to being “others” focused. When we start thinking of others more, we will start to see wants in our lives disappear due to seeing how much we have that others don’t. It’s not that you can’t have nice things, you can.
Contentment is more about learning to be happy with what you already have and not always chasing that new shiny thing that is being marketed to you. This could include things like higher paying jobs, the newest technology, a bigger house, clothing, etc. Chasing these types of things will never bring the true lasting happiness that you are looking for, rather, just a temporary burst.
Learning to be content is never easy and when taken too far, can result in hoarding or severe frugality. I’m not saying that you need to be on this extreme end of the spectrum. However, learning to make due with what you already have can help you save money on new purchases as well as allow you to end up saving more and giving more to help others. In fact, contentment is the most important money principle. If you can’t learn to be content, you will never have enough money to satisfy your happiness in the long run.
Being generous in our finances helps us realize there are other people besides ourselves to help.
Generosity has changed the course of our finances tremendously. I used to give with a closed hand and mindset, worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay off my debt quick enough or that we wouldn’t be able to live on what we had leftover. But, as I matured and began learning more about why giving and being generous is important, the more I felt a tug on my heart to start giving.
When we were still in our early debt payoff stages, we were only giving about 3% of our money to our church. I felt that the money I wasn’t giving could do more to better my finances and get me out of debt quicker. While this is true on a math level, I would have never learned how to become more content with what I had more and also, more importantly, I wouldn’t have given ownership of the money over to the true owner of the money.
When I realized that I didn’t own the money anyways, it was much easier to start opening up and giving. And the crazy part about it? When we decided to start giving faithfully and bumped up to 10% or a tithe, God sped up the process of our debt payoff and blessed us, stretching the money and speeding up our debt payoff faster then when we weren’t giving as much. This really built up my belief that being generous will ultimately change you for the better.
Gratitude encourages us to be patient and focus on the future.
Being thankful and learning to have an attitude of gratitude has helped us become more patient and stop and look at problems differently. When we are thankful for what we have and treasure those around us, we didn’t feel as much of the need to impulse on things and make rash decisions that we would regret later. Also, as we’ve worked through our finances together and learn to save and pay for things, I’ve really learned to focus on our future and what things can look like when we are patient.
Patience allows us to step back from the situation and think it through before acting.
Gratitude helps us keep an optimistic attitude by seeing the positives or silver lining in situations.
When we are focused on things that we are thankful for and not what we feel that we need, we tend to see more of the positive outcomes in life before the negatives. This opens us up becoming more solutions focused rather than problem oriented. We are thankful for our education and what we’ve learned along the way and keep a positive outlook about our lives. When we continue to keep a positive outlook in our mind, we will eventually get a break and end up ahead.
So many people complain about saving up their initial emergency fund of $1,000, only to have an emergency come up and have to use it. I try to remind them that this is the whole point of having an emergency fund. The good news is that they had the money saved up. Additionally, they didn’t have to use debt to take care of it this time.
In the past, we’ve had emergencies come up and had to use our emergency fund to fix something too. Initially, we aren’t happy with it either. However, stepping back and realizing that we had the savings in place to take care of the situation was actually a huge win for us. Gratitude actually allows us to have many advantages in our finances. We’ve been able to buy two vehicles in cash, gone down to one income, and invest regularly without having to worry about cashing it out if something goes wrong.
At first, it may be harder to see that the future will leave you stronger because of your thankfulness. Being optimistic in different situations and rebounding from them, you become more grateful each time.
Gratitude allows us to take advantage of a financial windfall.
Having a financial windfall is a very exciting time! A loved one may have left money for you because they love you. Or you may get an annual bonus. Extra money in your pocket can go two ways. You will either spend it frivolously or wisely.
How not to spend a financial windfall:
I have received large sums of money a couple of times in my life. While younger, I received back pay at a job I worked. My employer at the time wasn’t paying a fair wage according to a union picket. They ended up paying me a lump sum for the whole summer I worked. This money was a lot of money to me at the time and I wasn’t very financially literate about money.
Receiving the money, I lived high on the hog making purchases I probably didn’t really need. I was a young adult at the time. I had the mindset I could out earn my debt and excessive spending. Instead of saving the money for the future, I wasted it on luxuries of passing pleasure.
A better approach that has a lasting impact:
The second time that I received a financial windfall was when my wife received an inheritance. It was a nice sum of money that allowed us to make great financial decisions. Spending the money this way also should make the giver, as far as we know, proud. We gave some, saved most and spent a little on things that were most important to us. To this day, both my wife and I still feel blessed by this money. We’re very grateful for the help that it has provided.
Since learning to handle money better, we spend money we receive smarter. We’ve learned to make it stretch much farther than in our past.
What are you thankful for?
No matter what your situation is today, I’m sure there is quite a bit that you can find to be thankful for. Take some time this week to make a list and start reflecting on them. Find people that you are thankful for as well and tell them. Start trying to see things from a positive viewpoint and work to become patient enough to let the attitude of gratitude bless and transform your finances.
What are some ways that gratitude has played a role in your finances? I’d love to hear your comments below. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time out of your day to share a moment with me here at MyFamilyOnABudget.
This article was originally published on My Family on a Budget and is republished here with the author’s permission.
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