Just because THE economy stinks doesn’t mean that YOUR economy has to stink. You just need to change the way you think.

Finances can be freeing or imprisoning. Not having enough money enslaves most of us to a life that is controlled by others – mainly our bosses.

Not only do they control our money, but they control our time and sometimes our attitude (hopefully by now you learned enough not to allow that to happen.)

Controlling your own finances can set you free. That’s why I am such an advocate for self-employment. But that’s for another post. This post assumes that you work for someone else.

I teach personal finance. Most of my students are in low-paying jobs ($10 per hour or less) or are on government assistance but by the end of the three-month course those who follow my instructions manage to have a few hundred dollars in their emergency savings.

A few hundred dollars may not seem like a lot to some of you but a few hundred dollars in three months adds up to thousands or more over time. Remember these are low-income people.

An emergency fund is essential. It is just that – up to a year’s salary put away in case of emergency. An emergency fund gives you freedom and peace of mind. You are no longer mentally enslaved to your employer – you are prepared in case they decide to lay you off.

I was surprised at how many of my students had never heard of such a thing.

But they have one now.

If they can do it, so can you.

It’s all about taking control of your finances just like you take control of your mind. Here’s how:

  • Get Knowledge
  • Cut back
  • Discipline

Essential Principle #4 – knowledge of universal law is not required.

Knowledge of the law merely helps you to use it better.

Knowledge of accounting and compounding interest is not required for personal finances, but the more you know about how money works, the more you can use it to your advantage.

Take some courses to build your understanding of money.

But for now, I’ll keep it simple.

Make a list of your monthly spending. Be honest and list every dime you spend – even that candy bar you bought at the checkout and your daily double-latte.

Your checkbook is very telling about your priorities. You can see what’s important to you by what you spend your money on.

Cut back

This is the part that starts arguments. Let me remind you that I have money saved. If you want to save, this is how to do it.

Categorize your expenses into NEEDS and WANTS. Needs are things that keep you alive. Wants are everything else.

I had a student who felt that Pepsi was a need. Pepsi is a want. Water is a need. If you cheat, you are just cheating yourself.

Other things you don’t need – flat screen TV, pedicures, fast food, designer clothes, the club, beer, smart phones (OUCH, I know.)

You NEED an emergency fund, a place to live, utilities, food (not from a restaurant), basic clothing (not designer), health care, and transportation. Yes, even a basic telephone.

Now, add up all your wants. This is where your emergency fund lives. Don’t worry; you don’t have to give it all up.


When I first started saving, I was young and undisciplined. I had to actually open a bank account in another town with no ATM card so that I really had to think about taking the money out.

I’m much better now.

Look at your wants list. Find as many ways as possible to cut back. You have to allow yourself some pleasure, but if you get a latte every day, you can cut back to every other day and save the difference.

If you have so many clothes that they don’t fit in your closet, have a yard sale (or better yet, donate some of them) and cut back on your spending. Polish your own toe-nails and bank the difference. You’d be surprised how much money is sitting in your wants if you are honest.

We spend money according to habit, so just like any other habit, when you give something up, it is important to replace it with something even better. Be creative.

One student gave up eating in fast food restaurants for a family cooking night. His kids actually started doing better in school as a result.

Another note to parents: unless your kids have jobs and are contributing to the household income, they don’t have a vote in this process. They will have lots of friends but only two parents (if they are lucky) so teach them the principles of limitations before life does.

Add up the amount you can save. The more you can save, the faster you get to your goals.

Now, PAY YOURSELF FIRST. Put the allocated savings in the bank BEFORE you buy anything else. Train your brain to think that the money does not exist. Emergency funds are for major emergencies, not minor ones.

Since the emergency fund savings is coming out of money you would have spent anyway, don’t use it for things like car repairs. Think about it this way – how would you have made it if the money were not in your emergency fund?

The trick is to train your brain to WANT to have emergency funds. Visualize what it would be like to have 1 years income in the bank, ready for you when you need it.

Successful finances are a part of a successful life.

Control your money or it will control you.

Related Articles

About living4bliss

Mental Health Food is the place to stop to get your bliss on everyday. I give tips, hints and sometimes a little silliness to help you navigate the challenges of life. We have a great community of positive bloggers that keep the bliss going all day every day. Make sure to visit their blogs, too. Mental Health Food is a product of Believing Life Is Setup for Success, Inc. (B.L.I.S.S.) in Thornton, CO. We have been in the business of teaching success since 1991. We provide workshops, consulting services and now videos that help people just like you start and maintain successful businesses and personal lives using what you already have. Enjoy a daily dose of Mental Health Food; nourishment for the mind.

5 responses »

  1. Great post, Saundra!! Very practical, easy to understand AND follow!! An old African proverb says, “Save money, and money will save you.”

  2. martingysler says:

    An interesting approach from freedom… I like it! An easy to applied post for everybody, thank you!

  3. Very good financial advice! It is amazing what we don’t really need. I agree that we can retrain our brain and replace unhealthy habits with healthier practices.

  4. Great blog! So common sense! Thanks for including me!

I'd love to know what you think. Please share a comment with us.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s