What does it take to win with money? Why do some people succeed at managing their finances while others continue to struggle and fail? I believe the answer can be found in a key concept I learned during a leadership course a few years ago. The instructor shared the idea of “playing above the line“. This basically means that you will strive for excellence and take ownership of everything in your life. You won’t settle for just being average and just doing what everyone else does.
When you choose to play above the line, what others do does not set the standard for you. For example, if you were late for work or church, you would not blame the traffic like we tend to do. Traffic patterns rarely change, so you know better. You would instead say, “I did not plan adequately and I did not leave the house early enough.”
When you apply this concept to your money, playing above the line is the opposite of being “normal“. Normal (or average) with finances in the good old USA is living paycheck to paycheck, drowning in credit card debt, carrying student loan debt for 10-15 years, having car payments or worse lease payments for at least 5 years, having no savings for college and no savings for retirement. The normal person looks to Washington to rescue them from their financial mistakes (and we all have made them). Normal says: “it can’t be done”, “there is no way out”.
So how do you “play above the line” with your money? How can you be above average in your finances? What does it take to be weird in the land of normal? Over the next few days we will take a look at how this concept applies to your money in three areas: Taking Ownership, Planning for the Future, and Loving Your Family Well. Here is part one:
I. Taking Ownership
- Learn to create and live on a monthly spending plan. In other words, prepare a monthly budget every month before the month begins. Spend your money on paper. You tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
- Begin to track your spending. It does you no good if you put a great plan in place, and then don’t track how you are doing against it on a regular basis.
- Balance your checkbook every month. It is simple and it is essential.
- Learn to identify wants vs. needs. Focus on the basic necessities of your household first and prioritize those first (food, shelter/utilities, clothing, transportation).
Playing above the line. Being above average or weird. I understand it is not easy. Some days it will be harder than other. You will be tempted to give in. But don’t. What is the option really? What choice do you have? If not you then who? If not now, when?
Let me know what you think!
You can now check parts 2 and 3 at the links below: