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The seven deadly sins and your money

By Pauline Muindi | October 18th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The Bible has spelled out seven cardinal sins that plague mankind. According to Christian theology, these sins are ranked as “deadly” because they’re the roots of all social ills. In your pursuit of financial freedom, you will also realise that the deadly sins are behaviours that tend to hinder financial growth. Let’s explore how the seven mortal transgressions can wreak havoc in your finances, and the measures you can take to keep them in check:

Greed

Greed is considered by many philosophers and theologians to be one of the gravest of the deadly sins. It is greed that makes people put their money into fraudulent get-rich-quick schemes, where they end up losing their nest-eggs.

In wealth creation, slow and steady wins the race. If a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. Your best bet to getting rich is by taking the slow and steady route. This means implementing techniques such start saving at least 15 per cent of your income as early as possible, paying off debt, creating an investment plan with long-term focus, always living within your means, and investing time and effort in learning how to better manage your personal finance.

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Shift your focus from what you don’t have to what you actually have. Studies show that gratitude and happiness are strongly correlated. People who practice gratitude experience positive emotions that make them more contented with their lives. This happiness means better physical and mental health, stronger relationships, and better fortitude in the face of adversity.

Laziness

Sloth also ranks highly on the list of cardinal sins. Elsewhere in the Bible, sloth or laziness is identified as the highway to poverty.

“Laziness leads to poverty; hard work makes you rich,” the good book says. Unless you were born rich, you will have to make your wealth through plenty of hard work and discipline.

You have to do your best every day if you want to lift yourself to a better financial standing. However, it is important to not that working hard is only one component in the journey to financial freedom. You must also work smart. This means finding a lucrative field to work in, adopting smart spending habits, creating multiple income streams, and investing wisely.

Gluttony

Gluttony is habitual excessive eating. This sin is characterised by overindulgence in food a drink to the point where one is no longer eating to live but instead living to eat. In money matters, gluttony is associated with compulsive buying, which is also known as shopping addiction.

People who are afflicted by this mortal sin tend to buy every flashy thing that catches their eye, never mind if they have actual use for it. They might have ridiculous amounts of clothes, shoes, bags, gadgets and other material things. This gluttonous financial behaviour has gotten many people into credit card debt as they spend more than they can afford.

Some extreme cases of compulsive shopping require intervention from professional therapists. But most people can overcome this habit through careful budgeting and more financial discipline. It’s also important to identify triggers that lead to this behaviour, which will empower you to find healthier and cheaper coping mechanisms.

Envy

With today’s constant ‘highlight reel’ view of other people’s lives via social media, it is easy for anyone feel envious. Social media has also expanded the number of ‘Joneses’ we have the desire to keep up with.

When your social media friends are posting about their dream vacations, expensive cars, big mansions and flashy lifestyles, you may start feeling financially inadequate. This can lead to a poor spending decisions and debt as you try to showcase a similar lifestyle.

A 2016 study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Institute of CPAs found that many people are caught up in a cycle of feeling envious of their friends over what they post on social media.

Many people admitted that they also post things on social media solely because they seem fancy and expensive. One third of the people surveyed said they researched purchases, whether vacations or products, after someone in their social network posted a similar purchase.

To avoid unwise spending habits inspired by online Joneses envy, it is a good idea to take a break from social media. Use this break to focus on creating healthy habits such as exercising, meditating, and experimenting with healthy recipes. Additionally, take time to hang out with friends in real life, which will give you a more realistic perspective into what their daily lives are like.

Pride

It is natural to feel proud of your financial accomplishments. However, you should always take care not to become too prideful and look down on those who don’t have the same achievements. After all, nobody is really a “self-made millionaire”. Along the way, others have invested in you and your dream to make it a success. The list includes teachers, mentors, business partners, employers, clients and customers, employees, reviewers and so on.

Your pride can also lead to bad financial decisions. For instance, you might buy an expensive car you can barely afford. You might also look down on money-saving avenues such as buying products that are on offer, couponing, or negotiating.

Focus on giving back to the community around you, which creates goodwill that ultimately translates into more wealth. Don’t forget the habits that got you where you are. Even as you attain more wealth, continue healthy money habits such as budgeting, saving, and investing.

Lust

Just like envy, this sin is fuelled by the consumption culture where excesses are flaunted all over social media platforms.

People often exhibit lust over the latest gadgets and designer clothes. They feel that they simply must have the items, never mind that they already have similar items which function just fine.

Materialistic lust can often be overcome by giving yourself time to breath and think about the purchase. Instead of buying luxury items you desire on impulse, give yourself a week or a month to think it over. At the end of the duration, do you still desire the item? Most often you will find that the desire dwindles with time. Also think about how much time it took to earn the money the item costs? Is the purchase a worthy exchange for the time?

Anger

Anger, when not properly channelled can be expensive. For instance, if you smash your phone on the floor in anger, you will have to fork up money to either get it fixed or replace it.

Anger can also cost you valuable relationships that would have helped you create more wealth.

Your anger might be justified, but the way you act on it makes all the difference. It is always best to not act or speak in anger.

Give yourself time to calm down. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This will help you resolve the issue more amicably.


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