Meet the Smith family. Both parents work, and they make good money. From the outside, life looks good—a new Tahoe, a big house, and private schools for the kids. But, in reality, the Smiths are barely scraping by. With the help of credit cards and car loans, they spend more money than they make, and they’re just one financial emergency away from being in serious trouble.
Then there’s the Williams family. One parent works, and makes decent money, while the other stays at home and takes care of the kids. The Williams family lives on a tight budget—and even though they still have a lot of student loan debt, they’ve cut the balance in half during the last two years. They have a small emergency fund saved and expect to be out of debt completely in two more years.
So what is the difference between the Smiths and the Williamses? Why is one family able to pay off thousands of dollars in debt on a tight budget, while another family barely gets by week after week? Why does one person succeed with money, while another person struggles?
According to Rachel Cruze, author of Love Your Life, Not Theirs, dozens of factors play a role. But often, it comes down to several key characteristics of people who manage money well.
They’re patient. People who win with money are patient. They can delay a short-term pleasure for a long-term gain. In other words, they can walk right by the shoe section without blinking—because they know those $100 shoes would be nice, but they have bigger priorities.
They’re confident. People in control of their money are confident. They don’t care when other people look down their noses at them because they’re cutting back on lifestyle costs. And keeping up with the Joneses? Forget about the Joneses!
They’re goal-oriented. People who win with money approach goals with incredible passion. Save $1,000? Check. Get out of debt? Check. Build a full emergency fund? Check. For them, setting goals is fun.
They’re responsible. They get it. They understand that, in order to get to where they want to be financially, they might have to take a year off from vacation, skip dining out for a few months, or cut back on grocery spending. They’re willing to look at their money situation and make responsible decisions.
They aren’t materialistic. They understand they can have a bunch of stuff without being wealthy and they can be wealthy without owning a bunch of stuff. Someone who wins with money understands that money doesn’t bring happiness, and they live their life with that in mind.
They’re willing to sacrifice. They understand that budget cuts are only temporary. Five years from now, once they’re out of debt and winning with money, they’ll look back on these sacrifices with a smile.
The great thing about these characteristics is you can develop them. Even if you aren’t naturally patient, or you aren’t a big goal setter, you can develop these character traits by simply creating new habits in your life. When these habits turn into character traits, you’ll be well on your way toward winning with money for good!