Many people claim that they “don’t care what other people think” about them, and that might be somewhat true. But I learned a long time ago that to a large degree we are all a product of what we read, what we listen to, and who we associate with. That just makes sense to me because those three general things determine what we’re learning and what we’re being influenced by.
My buddy Joe recently wrote about being influenced by financial success in this blog post. (I’ve also learned this association principle is true regarding my marriage and parenting, and more importantly my walk with God.) In Joe’s post he asks if we would be embarrassed for a financially successful person to know about how we spend money.
Embarrassing Financial Behavior
To realize poor financial behavior is embarrassing requires actually knowing what poor financial behavior is. It requires actually paying attention to how you manage money and talking about it with others. It isn’t always comfortable, especially when you beat yourself up for mistakes. But no matter how uncomfortable it is we have to talk about it in order to learn and grow.
Be careful not to confuse every single financial mistake as embarrassing behavior. We all make mistakes at some point. What is embarrassing is to never learn from those mistakes or seek advice from people who can help us. What is embarrassing is remaining in a perpetual state of financial ignorance or lack of discipline.
Bad Financial Influence
One of the biggest mistakes we can make in any area of life is being influenced by people we should NEVER take advice from. Why would I take financial or marriage advice from someone who is constantly going backwards in their finances and marriage? That sort of thing happens so easily if we’re not using careful discernment. It is ok to take advice from someone who has made mistakes, learned from it, and bounced back. It’s probably not so good to take advice from someone who is perpetually failing.
When it comes to being influenced financially there are three it is important to be aware of.
People With Something To Gain
Taking financial and marriage advice from someone who stood to gain from my finances and my time away from home was a terrible mistake. Some of their advice was sound but some of it was motivated by their own potential gain. It is very important to seek advice from people who care about you but are not personally motivated in any way by your money decisions or how you use your time.
Financial “Success” Fakers
Believe it or not there are people out there who are faking financial stability when in all reality they are just one paycheck or financial setback away from disaster. Just because someone has a big fancy house and shiny new car doesn’t mean they have it all together. What’s even worse is someone who lies about how well they’re doing instead of being transparent about their true situation and seeking some advice too. Look for people who admit they’ve learned from either their own mistakes or those of someone who taught them.
The worst people to avoid for financial influence are those who are not getting their financial principles from the Bible. The last person I want to influence my thinking on finances is someone who lies, cheats, steals, or otherwise acts in a way about money that is not in line with what the Bible teaches about money. That includes anyone who is not giving, and I think it’s ok to ask.
Good Financial Influence
The post Joe wrote about being embarrassed really relates well to me. When I was broke I remember the last people I wanted to admit it to were the people I should have admitted it to the most. I knew which people in my life were having the most success financially but I let my pride prevent me from reaching out for their help. It wasn’t until our finances were a mess that I became more willing to open up and look for the right people to talk to.
A person of good financial influence is unbiased to your situation and they’re living out Biblical financial principles in their own life. One other tip I have learned is it is not always obvious who the most financially successful people are. Many are the nicest down to earth people living a modest lifestyle well below their means and you would never guess that they are wealthy just by seeing them. They’re my favorite type of examples to follow. You have to talk to them, get to know them, ask them questions, and listen carefully as the wisdom begins to show.
So what are you reading and listening to, and who are you allowing to influence you?