Is It Really a Money Problem?

In the book “Til Debt Do Us Part”, by Dr. Bernard E. Poduska, the root cause of many financial problems is behavior problems, not money problems. The following short excerpt is very concise and very helpful for those who face these issues. It is available here with permission from the publisher.

Financial Principles and Values

  • Financial problems are usually behavior problems rather than money problems.
  • If you continue doing what you have been doing, you will continue getting what you have been getting.
  • Nothing (no thing) is worth risking any relationship.
  • Money spent on things you value usually leads to a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Money spent on things you do not value usually leads to a feeling of frustration and futility.
  • We know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
  • You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need can never satisfy you.
  • Financial freedom is more often the result of decreasing spending than of increased income.
  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • The best things in life are free.
  • The value of individuals should never be equated with their net worth.

Financial Management Suggestions

  • Be aware that each of us has an assortment of divergent values, standards, and goals that tend to influence the way we want resources allocated.
  • Accept that each of us come to marriage with a unique set of financial rules.
  • Appreciate the severe stress placed on individuals and families when family financial rules are broken.
  • Understand that it is possible for families and family members to modify their financial management procedures.
  • Assess the financial management patterns of your family of origin, and determine which of these you wish to perpetuate or discard.
  • Develop a family plan designed to alter existing, dysfunctional financial patterns and establish functional financial management techniques.
  • Learn as a family how to effectively plan, control, and evaluate the management of financial resources.

Identify the Emotions Associated with Types of Behavior

  • Do you buy items that are usually associated with a higher socioeconomic level than your income warrants. Do you compete with someone else or with a particular comparison group? Do you buy things to compensate for feelings of inadequacy or because of a need to impress others?
  • Do you habitually live beyond your means, and are any anticipated increases in income already committed? Do you buy into “get-rich-quick” schemes or high-risk investments? Does your financial plan lack emergency funds or savings programs?
  • Do you lack basic financial management skills?
  • Do you have a history of impulse buying? Have you been self-indulgent in an attempt to compensate for loneliness or the feeling that no one cares about you?
  • When you buy something, do you neglect to take into account the hidden, indirect, and relationship costs?
  • Do you buy things that you use infrequently and that you could have rented for much less?
  • Do you lack sufficient medical or liability insurance coverage?
  • Are you staggering under your debt load?
  • Do you have addictive behaviors, such as gambling, hoarding, or substance abuse?

Behaviors Associated with Effective Financial Management

  • Make purchases appropriate to your income
  • Set limits on your needs and wants; decide what would be ‘enough’ house, car, income, and so on.
  • Take advantage of educational resources – libraries, schools, and seminars – to learn budgeting and management skills.
  • Agree to build in time delays proportional to the size of the purchase you are considering.
  • Calculate hidden and indirect costs along with the original purchase price.
  • Consider whether renting, borrowing or sharing might be more economical than buying.
  • Periodically review medical, life, and property insurance policies to make sure they are adequate in light of your present circumstances.
  • Think of lines of credit as lines of debt, and use them only for emergencies and planned purchases of durable goods.
  • Seek professional help regarding addictive or compulsive behaviors.
  • The above outline may be found in its entirety in Til Debt Do Us Part by Dr. Bernard E. Poduska. (published by Shadow Mountain, Salt Lake City, Utah, Copyright 2000, Used by permission. Photocopies prohibited by law.)