With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s also noteworthy to remember that November is National Gratitude Month.
Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” helps shift us from focusing on the negative to appreciating what is positive in our lives.
Research has shown that gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress, and drastically improve our overall level of health and wellbeing.
Everything in our lives has the ability to improve when we are grateful. And that includes our financial situations!
As we work to stay positive and focus on keeping an attitude of gratitude, here are three money lessons to be grateful for.
Money Lesson 1: Grateful to Change the Story about Debt
It’s never too late to take control of your finances. The good news is, regardless of how you have handled your finances to this point, you can always change the story and get a fresh start.
After college, Liz used credit cards to live a lifestyle that wasn’t sustainable. She loved to go out to eat and would do it quite a bit. She even reached Yelp Elite status for her many reviews of the restaurants she visited. The reality was, there was more money going out than was coming in and she found herself in quite a predicament.
She reached out to GreenPath, but wasn’t quite ready to make changes to her budget. After a while, things began spiraling out of control and Liz’s electricity was shut off. She reached out to GreenPath again and enrolled in a debt management plan to get on track.
She realized she needed help and was willing to get it. Liz remembers saying, “If I keep doing the things that I’m doing, the situation isn’t going to change. That first call – it was hard to swallow my pride.”
Putting a plan in place really helped her thinking about money and gave her real direction. She completed her DMP, was able to eventually purchase a condo and is looking forward to a much brighter future.
Liz is grateful for the help she received. “The cool thing about GreenPath is their ability to work with you.” About her financial journey she added, “It’s not as big of a mountain as it seems. I’m thankful for the lessons that helped me understand how to handle finances responsibly.”
Liz shares the following:
- Make financial decisions with a long-term view.
- Don’t let your pride hold you back from getting help.
- Friction can be your friend. The pressure of being in debt can motivate you.
Money Lesson 2: Grateful for the Chance to Share Financial Know-How
Tanisha wanted to buy a house. Like many people, over time she faced challenges with her finances. She didn’t grow up in a home where money and finances were talked about. She describes it as almost a “taboo” topic.
As she earnestly started looking at the home-buying process, she realized she needed help. She and her son said they were prioritizing “things” over what was more important.
She contacted GreenPath for free assistance. Working with a certified financial counselor, she put a Debt Management Plan in place and was eventually able to work toward being debt-free.
Tanisha said she began to understand she and her son had to learn to not prioritize material things over their future. Armed with a new mindset, and the tools she received working with GreenPath, she was able to purchase a home and set up a legacy of smart financial planning for her son.
“Working with the counselor, I felt like I was being set up for continued success,” she added. Now, her son looks forward to the day when he can handle things for his family. Together, they are grateful for the lessons learned and the help they received along the way.
Money Lesson 3: Grateful for Building a Better Money Mindset
Monte thought he was going to be a huge star. He had it all planned out. He grew up in a hard-working, middle class family. They had some tough times, but were thankful for being able to get by – barely. He remembers there being many ups and downs at home.
That mindset followed him for years into adulthood. He talks about how he thought about money early on. He went to college twice, but didn’t finish because of how he handled his finances. He remembers getting into money troubles there and how it ended up setting him back. At one point, he received a check for a student loan, after he had dropped classes. When he got the check, he considered it a windfall. His friends told him, “You know you’re going to have to pay that back, right?” He told them, “Yeah, but not today though. Let’s spend this!”
Monte’s challenges continued, including getting himself into serious financial and legal trouble over a Walkman. He took on additional debt for his wedding. He explains he never thought about the fact his financial decisions would follow him.
Monte also discovered part of his challenges were due to a mental illness. Due to his financial issues and not having insurance, he didn’t seek out the treatment he needed.
The impact of financial stress is a daily challenge for many people. A study by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute says concerns about finances often lead to stress and anxiety. That stress can then further impact finances. The institute found that:
46 percent of people with debt may also have a mental health diagnosis
86 percent of people with mental health issues and debt said their debt makes their mental health issues worse
Monte still faces challenges, but thanks to his mental health support and help from a GreenPath counselor, he is working his way to a more solid footing mentally and financially. He still has thousands of dollars in student loans and medical debt, but he now has help managing his money.
Monte’s advice, “Beyond finances, if you are dealing with a mental problem, get the help you need.”
Now he is working toward a bright future with his wife and they recently moved into their first home.
Whatever the financial challenges you face, putting healthy money habits in place can help manage financial stress.
Set up a spending plan to help as you work toward saving goals,
- Celebrate small victories
- Eliminate debt
- Adopt new spending habits
When it comes to your money lesson, which one can you put in place can give heading into the holidays and into your future?
“GreenPath was wonderful, and I wish I knew about it a long time ago. The people, the service that I get from it and the explanation of what we’re doing made it good.”
Jerome | Antigo, WI via ConsumerAffairs.com