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We are living in a world where technology is a major part of our day-to-day life. Technology is awesome and has its benefits. We have the ability to communicate with our family/friends instantly and send pictures with just a click of a button. One of the issues with having this instant ability, however, is that we can become easily caught up in comparisons and lose our contentment. In a matter of seconds, I can log into my social media apps and see through the windows to so many people in the world and what they are up to in their lives. There is a lot of sharing on social media and most of the things shared are about acknowledgments, achievements and exciting news. Rarely, do we ever see negative posts/tweets going around. Seeing all these posts can sometimes make us feel like our life is dull. Again, when this happens we begin losing our contentment and begin making quick and careless choices. These choices often reflect in our bank statements. Dave Ramsey’s daughter and best-selling author Rachel Cruze has written ‘Love Your Life Not Theirs’ to bring us a book that tells about her experience in this area. She gives us a look into seven money habits to help us focus and live the life that we want to live and not the life of someone else.
Rachel Cruze begins her introduction with explaining the difference between good habits vs. bad habits. People often think of the word habit as being negative, like cracking your knuckles, biting your fingernails or smacking your gum. But we all have habits and some of these habits we either need to break or we need to improve. The term habit means acting or behaving in a usual or predictable way. Rachel goes on to explain that when it comes to money we either have a good habit or a bad habit of how we control it. Rachels book explains ways to improve your money habits in a more positive light!
So what are the 7 Money Habits?
Habit #1 – Quit the Comparisons
Chapters 1 & 2 are about how comparisons are killing us. It will steal our joy and we will lose our contentment. She begins in a relatable note of a story about her and her husband taking a trip to Charleston. It was a lovely trip, however, whenever she returns the first thing she did was get caught up on social media to see what family, friends, and bloggers were up to. After scrolling through some Instagram photos, Rachel starts to compare the trip with her husband to a trip from a blogger which made her feel like their trip was dull in comparison. Rachel discovers this unhealthy response after she loses her contentment while seeing her friend’s remodeled kitchen on social media. She soon realized she was comparing their home to hers and was no longer satisfied with what she had.
“I realized comparisons will not only steal our joy but our paychecks as well.”
Rachel goes on to explain that if we don’t control this comparison game we will constantly spend money just to try and keep up with others. It will literally steal our paychecks!
Social media has a huge impact on this comparison game. Every generation has struggled to some degree with comparisons. She brings out the point that even in the Ten Commandments the instruction not to covet is listed. But over the past ten years, something has changed and she believes social media has had a huge impact. I would have to agree with Rachel. Unlike thirty years ago we would have to see that the “neighbor’s new car” in person before the comparison impulse kicked in. However today, we carry windows into other people’s lives in our back pocket with a touch of a button.
” Despite all the value networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have brought into the world, there’s one glaring negative that we have to face openly and honestly; these channels make it easier than ever for us to wish we were living someone else’s life. And what I’ve come to realize is that when we start comparing ourselves to other people, we’re playing a game we’ll never win.”
The comparison trap isn’t just on social media but it also can cover a wide area in real life and real time as well. From jobs and houses to clothes and marriage/parenting and the list goes on!
How do we free ourselves from these comparisons?
Rachel’s answer to this question is that the cure begins within. Comparing ourselves to others is essentially a coping mechanism for our own insecurities. We believe we don’t measure up so we project our insecurity onto others. We make assumptions about other’s lives and situations and often those assumptions are wrong. But the truth and fact of the matter are, we have no idea what’s going behind the scenes of their lives unless they tell you in-person. It’s a waste of time and none of our business. We can’t help the thoughts that pop into our head, however, we can control what we do with the thoughts. We can either nurture the comparisons and discontentment or stop the negative thoughts and enjoy what the Lord has blessed us within our lives and in front of us.
“Once you take your focus off of them and put it back onto your own life, you can start to turn things around with your own life and money”
Rachel goes on to explain in chapter two Blessed vs #blessed on ways to quite the comparisons with five wonderful tips!
1. Change Your Perspective – Stuff Doesn’t Equal Wealth, Wealth Doesn’t Equal Stuff
2. Cheer Each Other On
3. Stop Looking at Your Parents
4. Redefine “I Deserve It”
5. Own Your Stuff
Chapter two ends with the cure for comparisons and a closure look into that cure.
Habit #2 – Steer Clear of Debt
In chapters 3,4 & 5 Rachel goes into great detail about that four letter word…debt. She explains why she and her husband steer clear of it and why it’s so important to avoid debt altogether. Rachel tells the story of how debt affected her family growing her up as they overcame bankruptcy. Debt left a scar on her parents’ lives and marriage that she chooses to never see in her life and her families lives. Rachel shares the story of how her dad Dave Ramsey overcame debt and the lesson he instilled into her. Her parents were determined to raise their family with the knowledge of how to live debt-free, along with the commitment of actually making it happen. After reading this book I would have to say they did an amazing job with this lesson.
“This was my mindset because of how my parents raised me, sure, but I eventually took it on for myself. You could say I went from renting my parents’ strong principles about money to owning those beliefs for myself. My decision to live debt-free is no longer because “Mom and Dad told me to” but because it is a choice I have made for my life.”
These three chapters really break down the definition of debt and debt deceptions.
“Occasionally, people try to challenge my credibility because of that stand. I guess I understand that, but I certainly don’t agree with it. I don’t need to be an alcoholic to know drinking too much can harm you. I don’t need to do drugs to know that behavior can wreck your life. In the same way, I don’t need to be in debt to understand the stress and pain it causes people. I’ve learned you don’t have to make devastating mistakes with your money to learn how to handle it well. “
What I found as the highlight of these chapters is the answer to something I have been faced with personally. I’ve been told numerous times you need a credit card to have credit in case of an emergency. Rachel does a wonderful job explaining while it’s true, debt allows you to have whatever immediately, you have to realize the long-term implications of choosing to finance your present with your future. Debt steals everything that helps you to win with money – your income.
Furthermore, Rachel goes through the two mindsets that keep you in debt. “good debt” vs. “bad debt” both mindsets of good versus bad only allow people to justify their decision to go into debt. Rachel further explains how many have told her “but Rachel you can use your credit card wisely” her answer is, there isn’t anything “wise” about credit cards at all. There is no such that as good or bad debt at the end of the day you still owe someone something and those payments limit your options for your future. If you fill your life up with stuff you have to do, soon there isn’t any room left for stuff you want to do. Rachel covers many forms of debt including student loans, new cars vs. used cars, marriage, buying a house, house repairs, and so on.
Habit #3 – Make a Plan for Your Money
Chapter six and seven go in-depth about the importance of money and emotions, having a plan for your money and creating and keeping a budget. She shares wonderful tips and sources to help get started. One of the great resources she shares is using EveryDollar.com (we recommend this as well). Learn more about the Four Walls of your budget!
“A budget isn’t just tracking expenses throughout the month. It’s being intentional with your money ahead of time.”
Cash is amazing! Read about the benefits of making purchases with cold hard cash! In this chapter, Rachel introduces the envelope system. We personally use the envelope system and it’s very effective if you stick to it. Rachel Cruze has also designed a special and freshly updated version of this envelope system with The NEW Wallet and Clip System. You can order yours here if you’re interested.
Habit #4 – Talk About Money (Even When It’s Hard)
Chapters 8 & 9 talk about the importance of money in a marriage. Whether you are married or not, it’s always best to know how to talk about money to someone else. In a marriage, it’ll be your spouse. If you’re not married, a trusted friend is great to have to help keep you accountable. As Rachel best puts it, “even if you never marry, this information will challenge you to take a good, hard look at all the emotions you have around money and understand how those emotions affect the decisions in you make”.
Separate or Joint Accounts?
This question always seems to come up whenever Jason and I talk to other couples about money. Most times couples look at us shocked when we say we share an account. We both contribute to the account and we both work together to control the use of the money we have been blessed with and worked hard for. Rachel hits the nail on the head with why couples fail to win with money. Yes, the biggest reason couples fail financially is separate bank accounts and here is why. Rachel explains how if both couples have their own accounts they try to divvy up responsibility and how that is a huge mistake. One of the most effective ways to wreck your financial life and possibly your marriage is by keeping two separate accounts. Whenever you stand before God, your family and friends and most importantly the love of your life you are pronounced husband and wife. You are now married, you are now inseparable, you are one. It’s no longer just your life and their life. There is a union and a joining between you with the other person. You’re not two business partners working a deal. Why would you draw the line at money if you believe all of the other aspects of this?
“You have to be one in every area of life to have a successful and healthy marriage.”
Rachel goes to say “While remaining a unique individual, your value systems and goals must line up with one another. Otherwise, you’ll end up living two separate lives, and that’s when your relationship becomes simply a tax status – not marriage.
“Money is an outward expression of an inward commitment. You either love someone with everything you are or you don’t. You can’t have the commitment and trust required to be married for the long haul if you draw the line at money. Money reveals what you truly value in life. Your money not only represents your value system, but it also reveals your goals, fears, and dreams. Being on the same page and unified together in all areas of life is essential – and that absolutely includes your checking account.”
Rachel dives deeper into this topic in her book. There is no such thing as my money or your money; she goes to explain to her readers that when married it’s our money. It doesn’t matter who brings in the paycheck or who makes more than the other. Whenever that paycheck hits the account you are both accountable and that makes you more unified. Money becomes more visible in the account and this will build trust with you and your spouse and improves your relationship because it forces you to communicate with your spouse even if it’s painful at first. This will encourage you both to be more accountable before making a significant purchase.
Common sense has to kick in when it comes to sharing an account. Don’t give your spouse who is a gambling addict full access to the family finances. If that kind of behavior is happening that needs to be fixed before joining accounts. Marriage problem vs. Money Problems… and that is not a money problem. “Get help, build the trust, and then get your money back together as soon as you can.” Further, in the chapter, she goes to break down how to make Secret Shopping for gifts possible for your spouse even with a joint account. She gives some pretty awesome tips here!
“You can’t justify or enable irresponsible spending habits because you feel like someone deserves it.”
Chapter nine goes over the importance of having a budget and an open communication when it comes to your families money. This is so vital in a marriage, financial infidelity can be just as severe as sexual infidelity in a marriage because of all the lying, mistrust and dishonesty. Know the difference between Infidelity vs. Irresponsiblity.
“You have to talk about money with your spouse if you want to get on the same page. If you don’t you are setting yourself up for some relationship-straining situations.”
When You’re Single, Dating, and/or Talking with Your Kids.
If you are either of these listed above, there is a modified way to handle money versus the married couple’s way, same plan, different players as Rachel puts it. Rachel walks her readers through what money in a relationship should look like at each stage in that relationship, and how to accommodate individual spending vs. combined goals. She gives great tips and advice on the do’s and dont’s of how to take control of your money and who you can trust to talk to when trying to make these wise decisions.
Habit #5 – Save Like You Mean It
Chapters 10 & 11 talks about the importance of saving and having an emergency fund.
“Saving – even a small amount- will give you peace of mind.”
Rachel goes to explain how we can’t schedule emergencies, but we can count on it that we will have them and we never know when it will happen. That is why we need to be prepared. The Emergency fund is a MUST in life. This is your safety cushion. Jason and I took this advice to heart whenever we started getting serious about our money habits. You first begin by saving $1,000 and Rachel will go into detail ways to help save for that $1,000 if you are in debt. The Emergency fund needs to be separate from your regular budgeted spending money. If you have it in with your checking account it’s going to be become difficult in knowing if your spending that “emergency” money on regular everyday purchases and your emergency fund will never see growth. Rachel will further explain where you should keep your emergency fund and why it’s and not so much an investment but its insurance. It’s there when you need it and you’ll be glad you have it.
Know the difference between emergencies and stage-of-life events. Stage-of-life events are predictable and you can save and prepare for this expense. Rachel will go through different scenarios of knowing which areas to save for and how to save for each one.
-Saving for a Car
-Saving for Retirement
-Saving for College – ESA (Education Savings Account)
-Saving for a Wedding
-Saving for a Growing Family
-Saving for Celebration Trips
In Chapter 11 Rachel talks about the ‘biggest saving goal of your life’ – your home. This chapter is filled with nuggets of wisdom for home buyers. Is your home a blessing or is it a curse? Avoid making bad housing purchases due to making fast decisions that you will regret. Rachel covers several areas of this chapter on what steps to take in home buying that will guarantee a wise purchase and ensure the purchase of your home will be a blessing and not a curse. As put in this chapter, these steps will make you slow down, look for the best deal, and save a little longer. In the end, you will be the one ahead and ready to buy the right home and the right time.
This chapter may seem more about spending than saving. However, Rachel points out that before you can sit down at the closing table you need to be prepared and know how to save. Knowing how to save before making this long-term investment can enable you to put down a big down payment and also prepare to know how to save for the expenses of your home. There is just as many horror stories shared as success stories when buying a home. The decision requires you to follow through on your thinking and slow down. If you focus on the looks of the home and quick decision making because of your emotions you can easily overlook problems with the foundation or plumbing. Jason and I looked at several homes before we made our purchase because what looked like the most amazing house ever had either severe mold damage or the foundation was unsafe. Educate yourself, learn the language and best practices of home buying. Be prepared.
“When it comes to purchasing your home don’t worry about what your friends have or how big their houses are. You aren’t living their lives. You’re living your own life, so make it a life you love.”
Habit #6 – Think Before You Spend
Rachel begins this chapter by sharing a story about how she almost bought a really nice set of pots and pans. However, once she saw the price the idea of buying them came to screeching halt and she walked away from the purchase.
“You see, choosing something good over something bad is easy; anybody can do that. The hard part is when you have to choose between a good thing (great pots and pans) and a better thing (putting the money toward something else). That’s when you have to keep your guard up and push through to the wisest decisions.
How we choose to spend our money affects our present and our future. Just like making a plan for where your money goes every month is important, making a plan for how it’s used is also important. Rachel gives several examples of how to focus our needs above our wants and how to be content with what we have versus what we want to have just to keep up with the Joneses. When it comes to spending there is a difference between needs and wants. Food, shelter, utilities, clothes, and transportation are the basic needs. These items here will help you live on another day if you don’t have anything else. Wants, however, like a Halloween costume for your dog, video games, trips to the beach are not needs. Rachel goes even further to clarify those blurred lines of knowing the difference between wants and needs. An example she gives is when you need a car but you instead buy a new one with heated leather seats and a premium sound system. That additional add on’s are not needs, those are wants. If you need food you don’t buy steaks every night to eat. Her point is to take care of your real needs before you start with the fancy purchases.
Rachel gives tips on how to spend wisely with a purpose… Learn more about
-Grocery Shopping (meal planning, buying smart, organic foods, couponing, and buying in bulk)
-Home Decor (repairs, updates, and upgrades)
“It’s crucial that you take the time to think before you spend your money. It’s not enough to have a budget every month. That’s good defense, but you need a strong offense and defense to win at most games. The same is true for money.”
Know how you spend your money and when and where you should spend it. When you have a budget this will help greatly in this and help you to discern your needs from your wants.
“A budget doesn’t tell you what you can’t do; it shows you what you can do.”
Habit #7 Give a Little Until You Can Give a Lot
Chapters 14, 15 & 16 focuses on giving and why it’s so important when it comes to ourselves and others.
“Generosity isn’t a simple act of giving or a grand event. Generosity is a lifestyle that changes hearts and minds as it blesses everyone involved.”
Rachel sums up her book wonderfully by tying all of these important habits into one main goal. Giving. Improving our bank account isn’t the primary purpose of good money habits, while it’s important we shouldn’t stop at this point but instead we need to keep going by giving either in our time, money or our abilities. Each of these can be a witness to someone else and impact the trajectory of others lives forever. When you have no stress from money or trying to constantly keep up your focus will be on what matters most and you will have a peace of mind.
We live in a culture based on attitudes and demands of “me first” we are selfish and we want instant gratification. When you shift your focus onto meeting your own needs to being able to help someone else that is where true happiness and joy is birthed from. Rachel goes further into sharing with her reader what the bible says about giving. She shares why the bible is so important to the foundation of her faith and how the Bible does an amazing job in teaching us financial wisdom. All throughout scripture, the Bible teaches about budgeting, debt, saving, spending, comparison living and of course, giving.
“What you and I do with our money is evidence of what we believe.”
Giving changes your mindset and reminds you that you’re not alone in this world. You can read more about how to give, when to give and why you should give further in this book. This book was by far one of the best books I have read in awhile. I was impressed with how relatable and real Rachel Cruze was in sharing some amazing nuggets of wisdom with her readers.
Order your copy of Love Your Life Not Theirs Today!
Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and presenter, helping Americans learn the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. Today she serves as a Ramsey Personality, using her knowledge and experiences from growing up as Dave Ramsey’s daughter to educate others. She co-authored the #1 New York Times best-selling book Smart Money Smart Kids with her dad. Her new book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs, released October 2016.
Since joining Ramsey Solutions in 2010, Rachel has traveled the country speaking at colleges, churches, and conferences to educate students and young adults on the dangers of debt and how to budget their money and save for the future. Already a veteran communicator and presenter, she has been speaking to audiences as large as 10,000 since the age of 15, when she began making appearances on stage with her father as part of the company’s The Total Money Makeover LIVE! events. She also teaches Foundations in Personal Finance, a curriculum geared toward high school and college students.
The Habits We Form Early in Life Will Affect Our Future.
Rachel has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Meredith Vieira Show, Katie, Fox & Friends and many other national and local television shows. She’s also been featured in magazines like Woman’s Day and Glamour. Her popular YouTube channel has received millions of views since launching in 2014.
Rachel is a graduate of the University of Tennessee. She lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband Winston, daughter Amelia, and their yellow lab, Nala.