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Why Chasing Money Is Worse Than Dogs Chasing Cars

Why Chasing Money Is Worse Than Dogs Chasing Cars


    We’ve all been there before and many of us are there right now.

    And where would that be? Probably not on vacation, enjoying an experience to remember or working to improve our health.

    We’re chasing money.

    Many cultures preach that once you have a good income stream or a certain amount of money built up then good things will follow. Things like going to great restaurants, taking exotic trips, creating a home immersed in entertainment options, and freedom from the fear you’ll have to take a hand out.

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    Fact: Money is the primary pursuit for most of us from the time we finish high school to the time we retire.

    Is this relentless chase the only way it can be or should be? You might not like my answer but you will get some actionable steps to improve your relationship with money.

    The Ugly Parallel

    Ever watched a cartoon or YouTube clip of a dog chasing a car? Even if they catch it they don’t exactly win a medal. Even worse, sometimes the dog gets permanently harmed in the process.

    A human parallel comes from reflecting on this quote by the Joker in the movie The Dark Knight.

    “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it!”

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    Do you see your relationship with money in this quote? Don’t feel bad if you do. I certainly used to but I’ve learned a mindset that helps combat the desire for the constant pursuit of money. Try some of these steps to alter your beliefs about it and help yourself grow into positive behavior and habit change.

    1. Say This Phrase Out Loud: “More money will make things better”. According to research, this is one of the most common beliefs among Americans (and I imagine people in other countries). Now say it a second time. Is it any more convincing? If you have a negative reaction to this experience the feelings when you say “happiness can be achieved with less or no money”. Which one of these statements resonates more?

    2. Realize Why You’re Often Stressed: Did you run out of time to exercise this week because of your work hours? Were you racing around so fast that you didn’t have time to eat well? And did you prioritize your commitment to making money higher than your family and friends? Saying yes to any of these questions generates stress in all of us. Not surprisingly, the American Psychological Association found that money is the biggest cause of stress by far. To prove this isn’t just an American problem an international Reader’s Digest poll asked people in 16 countries what their biggest cause of stress was. The runaway answer? Money.

    3. Ask Yourself What Role Money Plays in Life: So many people are too busy to assess the role of money in their life. I view money as the future ability to buy products and services that fulfill the needs of my family, friends, community, and charities I support. Just to give a couple of examples, two unfortunate paths in life I see people leading look like:

    Money –> vacation –> relaxation/adventure –> happiness

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    Money –> buying future free time –> satisfaction with life

    An alternate mindset is where money is at the end of the path instead of the start. After all, money is a by-product at the end of the path for people living out their core values (a.k.a. the happiest and healthiest).

    4. Define Why You Chase Money: Getting and having money is not a bad thing. It’s not inherently evil and the reality is we all need it. But try brief exercise though. Write down five good reasons why you pursue money. Pause for a few minutes and actually write them down. Do you like what you see? It the time spent and priority assigned to getting money more important than other things you value in life?

    My challenging you to find the “why” behind your relationship with money is for a sincere reason. This quote from the Goldberg and Lewis research team sums it up well.

    “[People] have become so indoctrinated with the idea that having money is important, that they no longer question why. They are unaware that perhaps what they are truly seeking is an increase in self-respect, or security, or freedom, or love, or power.”

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    Treat Yourself with Respect

    Your relationship with money could be an issue of balance but most likely it’s an issue of priorities or not knowing why you want it. Give yourself the respect you deserve by being more mindful about money than a dog is about chasing a car. I don’t want anyone getting hurt by a reckless pursuit and I hope you don’t either.

    Which of these steps works best for you? Are there other steps you’ve successfully used to stop chasing money and improve your relationship with it? Please share a comment below.

    (Photo credit: Man Chasing Falling Money via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2019

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

    Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

    Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

    This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

    Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

    What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

    Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

    When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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    How It Leads to Financial Improvement

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

    Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

    Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

    It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

    Types of Personal Finance Software

    When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

    Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

    For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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    Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

    When to Use Personal Finance Software

    So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

    Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

    1. You Have Multiple Accounts

    There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

    If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

    Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

    2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

    Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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    There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

    With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

    3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

    Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

    Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

    Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

    4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

    Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

    You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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    How to Get Started

    From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

    Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

    It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

    When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

    Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

    In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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