Money & Career

Money management: Don't be a money moron

Photo courtesy of Slice(tm) Image by: Photo courtesy of Slice(tm) Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

Money management: Don't be a money moron

We spoke with money maven Gail Vaz-Oxlade to find out how to keep money trouble and debt from ruining your relationships. Her reality-based approach to money has made her a Canadian reality television star and her new show, "Money Moron," takes a good look at the ways that poor money management can impact relationships. In each episode a "tattler" gets Vaz-Oxlade's support to confront his or her personal money moron. While the first season focuses mostly on couples, future shows will highlight parents and children, as well as siblings.

Why do a TV show about money and relationships? Because money and debt are huge sources of conflict. As Vaz-Oxlade explains: "One of the things people need to realize is that their aberrant behaviour doesn't just affect them. You will have an impact on your friends. You will have an impact on your family. You will have an impact on your coworkers."

So how can you avoid becoming a money moron? Vaz-Oxlade shares some tips.

1. Don't let a lack of information or knowledge serve as an excuse for poor money management.
"Sometimes [the root concern] is a lack of knowledge," says Vaz-Oxlade. People who have poor money-management skills often use the excuse that no one ever taught them how to manage their money properly.

Yet, according to Vax-Oxlade, only about 15 percent of the average family's finances – issues such as insurance and estate planning – are complex enough to actually need professional support. The other 85 per cent can be handled through a DIY approach to tackling debt.

Take the time and make the effort to find a system for monitoring your money and tracking any debt. Check out our 10 tips for stress-free money management to get started.

2. Identify and address issues that underlie your relationship to money management.
How people handle their money often relates to stress or unhappiness that they are experiencing in their relationships or other areas of their lives. Spending often comes with a momentary thrill or a chance to escape, and that can be hard to resist if every day is a struggle in some other way.

"Sometimes the problem is ‘I'm bored, I'm lonely, I'm unhappy, I'm unfulfilled, I'm dissatisfied,'" explains Vaz-Oxlade. "So the person who has a job they hate thinks nothing of what they spend on their vacations because, from their perspective, they've put in the time and now they're totally entitled to whatever vacation they can fit on their credit card."

"We need to address the underlying fundamental problem, which is not just the spending on the credit card, but why do you hate your job and why are you doing a job you hate?" says Vaz-Oxlade. "Because maybe you wouldn't need to make that $7,000 extra to pay off that credit card if the job you had made you happy and you didn't need to flee four times a year."

If you find yourself overspending on online shopping with a credit card to handle stress or buying takeout because you don't get enough help at home, make sure to address the root of the problem in addition to reining in your spending.

If you're considering changing jobs, be sure to take a look at our 10 tips for making a successful career change.

3. Don't mistake credit for money you've earned.

Do you think you deserve a lifestyle that your income can't support?

"Sometimes it's just that people are completely entitled. They feel like 'I can get credit, so I can spend it,' and they don't understand the implications," says Vaz-Oxlade.

The problem with running your credit cards up to the maximum is that, not only can your debt snowball, but the resulting chaos can turn you into that person who continually asks people for more money – or more time. This is bad money management.

"You could be ruining relationships that you actually want to keep in your life," says Vaz-Oxlade. "Stop being delusional about what you're doing with your money, because maybe that's going to be what breaks the camel's back when it comes to the relationship."

Vaz-Oxlade believes that it all comes down to conscious decisions. If you consciously look at where your money is going, decide where you want it to go and then, well, put your money where your mouth is, chances are excellent that the people you most care about will be able to trust your judgment – and you. And that is, indeed, priceless.

Special webisodes of "Money Moron" can be found on Slice TV. "Money Moron" premieres on Slice on April 19, 2013 – check your local listings.
 
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Money management: Don't be a money moron

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