The Two-Step: Change Your Thinking About Money

Ray Linder Very few people believe that money buys happiness. Yet, typically they wish they had more of it — to pay for the things they bought on credit. Today more than ever, despite being a more affluent people, Americans struggle to stay out of debt.

Successful dieters know that the key to keeping weight off is not just to eat less but to change the way they think about eating. Likewise, the way to stay out of debt is not just to spend less money but to think differently about spending it. Two keys to spending money wisely will keep you out of debt and make spending much more fun.

First, you must understand that every expenditure of money is a permanent yes and no decision. Each time you say yes to a decision to spend money one way, you say no to spending that same amount another way.

Buying on credit, one can easily lose sight of the importance of thinking correctly about yes and no spending decisions. A new car may only cost $400 each month, but over five years you will have spent $24,000, a good portion of which was interest. The seduction of low monthly payments, in reality, prevents you from spending a significant amount of money on other things, like a down payment on another car.

The second step to wise spending is recognizing your unique capacity to enjoy material things. You have singular interests, passions and goals, some of which can be fulfilled through the use of money. Everyone has one or two material interests that matter more than any other. Think about what material things personally give you the most enjoyment. Books? Sporting goods? Dining out? Home furnishings? A man once told me his material enjoyment was gourmet pork and beans!

King Solomon claimed he had everything his eyes desired, yet found his life and possessions meaningless. Even if you had everything and the cash to pay for it, you would still throw a lot of money away.

Therefore, do yourself and your bank account a huge favor by following this simple rule: Orient your spending around the acquisition of those things that matter the most. When you cut your wish list down to just those things that are the most meaningful to you, not only will you spend less, but you'll enjoy more.

Say yes to buying things that matter most, and say no to less-valued things that create debt and distress.

Article copyright © 2003, Ray Linder.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.

Ray Linder is the founder and CEO of and an internationally recognized teacher of team success and personal development. He is author of three books, including What Should I Do With My Money? — How Your Personality Affects Your Financial Behavior. Ray is an associate of Otto Kroeger Associates, the world’s leading training firm for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. He has over 25 years of business experience including corporate finance, investment management, fundraising and development, consulting, sales, pastoral ministry, and small business management. Ray, his wife Christine and their two daughters live in Sterling, Virginia.