Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, once a child prodigy became one of the most successful musicians of his era, died in 1791. His music still lives on and will continue to be heard in years to come. We may not identify with his raw talent and unquestionable genius, but we may be able to relate to how he managed his finances. Mozart like so many of us grew accustomed to a certain way of life. This desire for a certain lifestyle coupled with liberal spending habits unfortunately got him into financial trouble. It has been recorded that he would desperately plead to others including his own brother for financial support. Many of these letters still exist today.
Fast forward to today and people run into the same issues. In addition to this, our access to debt or borrowed money has become easier and using credit cards to pay for everything normalised. Bear in mind, not all debt is bad. Most people will not be able to buy a house and pay for it in cash, so we need a bond or a mortgage to help us. If responsibly managed this will add value to our lives by providing a roof over our heads and a home for our family. However, if we are accessing borrowed money to pay for things we don’t need right now to satisfy our desire to feel or look good, we can run into trouble. Suddenly the value that debt can potentially create crumbles with our self-control.
Like so many well-paid celebrities and business leaders today, or the incredibly talented musicians of the past, the issues around managing money have little to do with how smart and talented you are or your ability to earn a good income. Earning a good income doesn’t qualify you to be a good money manager. Earning money is one thing, keeping it is another. Managing our money responsibly requires humility, discipline and being frugal when necessary. Our own desires can get in the way of this and cloud our better judgment. Unhealthy desires if left unchecked influence how much debt we can potentially get into. Our spending habits will often reflect our desires. You can tell a lot about a person by what they spend their monthly paycheck on. Not all desires are unhealthy, but I have found in my own life that desires that aim to serve me have a lot more unhealthier outcomes than when I am serving others.
Keep your own desires in check, spend less than you earn and save as much as you can. This sounds simple but it’s not easy. Humility and practicing self-discipline is a daily practice. Speaking to someone you trust before making major financial decisions is super helpful. Someone who is not emotionally involved can provide valuable insight and can provide the clarity you need at just the right time.
Having desires and dreams for the future is a beautiful thing. We just need to align them with our own financial positions and be wise in our pursuit of them. Patience pays off and you will be financially stronger for it.