In his book, Psychological Types, Carl Jung defines attitude as “readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way”. He goes ahead to categorize consciousness into four types namely the perception functions (sensation and intuition) and judgment functions (thinking and feeling). Sensation function appeals to excitement, a widespread reaction of interest, while intuition is an irrational function, appealing to the acquisition of knowledge in an unstructured manner, mostly without ‘proof’ or ‘conscious reasoning’. Allow me to also describe briefly the remaining types of consciousness, that of judgment. Thinking is an intellectual activity that involves finding answers to a problem or solving an issue in a practical way, while feeling can be used to describe experiences or even physical sensations. This means one can buy something just because that ‘thing’ will make one feel in a particular, likely happy, or excited or even beautiful! So, our perception about money is guided by both judgment and perception.

Our attitude plays a great role towards how successful we become with our finances. Both perception and judgment are central in ensuring that our understanding of financial matters is solid and contributes positively to generating wealth with the money in our hands.

Financial habits and practices, put together with our money beliefs and attitudes, have a direct relationship with the financial literacy levels that we acquire. These beliefs affect our spending behaviour and determine how much we are able to save. It trickles down to personal finance. Someone once mentioned that money attitudes are learned, they are dispositions that are acquired through teachings and observations in the family. This is later reshaped through socialization and to a large extent by the experiences we have with money.

A positive attitude towards money results in respecting that money. The means we use to acquire that money will be respected and therefore, the functions to which we put that money are well thought out. It is said that the financial choices, as well as decisions, we take in life are ‘a function of a deep-seated belief we hold for the meaning and importance of money.’ This forms part of the attitude we have towards money. This happens at different stages in one’s life.

At the family level, the way we discuss financial matters in the house matters a lot. There are very many issues that are openly discussed, such as sex, food, education, and even marriage nowadays, but financial matters are yet to attain this level of openness. If this is enhanced, the attitude towards money could change and one’s life could change as well. Research has rightly shown that sound financial practices are based on a sound money-personality or money ethics, which are in line with one’s perception of the monetary value of their life force.

How come some people are usually successful with the little money they make, use it to grow an empire while others who earn way above that still borrow from those whose income is way below theirs?

For you to be a disciplined money spender, your attitude has to change. While many people look at financial literacy training with scorn, this training helps one to change their perception regarding money. The moment you get hold of cash, what goes through your mind? Saving or spending? As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the feeling is regarded as a driver of attitude.

We buy things to satisfy our feelings. We get excited when we acquire the latest fashion dress, the latest smartphone, the latest car and even when change our hood. This excitement leads to expenditure that may not be well thought through. While others acquire these things because they can comfortably afford them, others do this in response to peer influence thereby negatively affecting their wallet. This may also complicate matters as they go into loans to fund the deficit. Those who concentrate on saving, using the available money as resources for wealth creation, have a deep respect for that money. Their beliefs are different. Their attitude determines their altitude. They soar high and even become job creators.

The intention one has with the money they have will determine their eventual behaviour. If the intention is to attain instant gratification, then they will use that money for that purpose. They use the money on fashionable items, the wants. They may not be able to differentiate between the wants and needs. They, therefore, go on a spending spree without rational thinking and usually pay for their ‘ignorance’.

Have you ever heard of people talk about reducing their money to manageable levels? When one gets a larger sum of money than they are used to, they spend quickly up to the level they are used to before stopping to ask themselves the question, what next? It is their attitude towards money that is the problem. Their personal financial literacy requires updating and upgrading! 

Personal finance coaches always take people through the use of a budget in tracking and managing their finances and you can imagine the level of resistance. It is usually easier for female participants but this is an issue for a different article. Drawing a budget and committing to it is a hard task that I have observed, sometimes driving away many of my clients because they know they will not honour their promises of drawing one and keeping to it. Attitude is the issue here. Treating symptoms is not the clearest way of dealing with a patient, treating the cause is.

Change your attitude. It is simple: put some money on the table and write down, honestly, what comes to your mind first when you see that money. Is it a saving or expenditure!