Know your money motivation

What motivates you to save? What moves you to spend? Use these values to make and meet short and long-term financial goals….after all, sometimes it isn’t so much what you earn as it is how you spend it. Don’t believe me? Read this…

Oseola McCarty was an African-American woman born in Mississippi in 1908. She never earned a high wage during the decades she spent doing laundry. That’s what makes her gift so surprising. In 1995 just four years before her death, McCarty announced that she would fund a scholarship for financially disadvantaged students attending the University of Southern Mississippi.

The fund amount she gifted was $150,000.00. McCarty, an amazing saver with a 6th grade education, lived without any extravagance and few conveniences. She had no car, and for many years, no cable or even air conditioning. In total, she saved $280,000.00. In addition to the scholarship fund McCarty left money to her church and family.

McCarty started saving as an 8 year old. She put away money earned from ironing and eventually went to the bank and opened an account. Maybe we can’t all be as frugal but we can learn from Ms. McCarty that saving is less about how much we earn than it is about how we choose to spend. What was her secret? In an interview printed by the Philanthropy Roundtable, McCarty says she saved money, made deposits but no withdrawals. 

Think about it

How are the lessons you have learned about money mirrored in your present day money interactions? What do you believe about money? What role has money played in your life? In what ways would you like to change your relationship to, or habits with, money? 

Find your financial purpose

Having a big why makes the how of money management feel more possible. If there is a real purpose driving your plan you will feel more compelled to save instead of deprived when you don’t spend. The sense of purpose creates a real shift in attitude that helps you see it isn’t that you can’t spend but that you are choosing not to spend. You are choosing your big why over a small, fleeting pleasure. Your sense of self is immeasurably bolstered by making a plan and sticking with it – much more than it is by getting another tech gadget. What is your big why? Is it saving for a house you can raise your children in? Is it knowing you can take care of yourself and pay your bills? The security of having a safety net to handle emergencies? Planning for a comfortable retirement? Maybe it is saving enough money to start a business or buy a car. Name your big why now and use the passion you feel to help you figure out the how (of saving/getting the money to fuel your why).

What is the purpose of money in your life? What role does it serve?

Think of a time when you saved a lot of money. Was it for a wedding, to buy a bike or even a car? Or was it to take a vacation or buy a house? You were able to do that because you were motivated by a very specific and desirable reward. To repeat that same habit in your daily life it is important to identify whatever that thing is (your why) that is so desirable that it makes the impulse to buy seem pale in comparison. Think not in terms of what you can’t buy but what you will be able to do as a result of your choice not to spend in this moment. Remember, money gives you options. If you have $500 saved you can better handle emergencies. It doesn’t matter how little you have to start. It only matters that you protect your financial future by making a savings plan in the present.