When you boil it down, there are only four things that you can do with your money. They are: spend it, save it, invest it, and give it. This concept gives us a certain amount of power when thinking about our personal finances.
This 4-score method was created by Mac Gardner, who has 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. When Gardner’s family grew, he started looking for ways to start teaching young children how to develop a basic sense of financial literacy.
From that, The Four Money Bears was born, a children’s book that represents the four basic functions of money listed above as bears. His purpose behind this was to create a way to expose money management and balance skills at a young age in the hope that it would cultivate healthy financial habits in adulthood.
And it does! Gardner’s book reframes the conversation in an easy and accessible way.
These four money bears — or management methods — must exist in a place of balance; we should never just focus on one. But how do we know how to balance these four for ourselves?
Dissecting the four methods of money management
This is something that we all do, and we can all understand. Whether it’s on mortgage payments, new clothes, going out to dinners, or just the occasional splurge item, we typically spend money on a daily basis.
What most people don’t know is that every dollar should bring you joy or gratitude, whether it’s on some physical item that you’ve wanted for a while or whether it’s your water bill — showers definitely bring me joy after a long day! If you’re not feeling joy with your spending, or you can’t see the reason behind your spending, it might be time to examine it.
🚫 The danger of spending 🚫
If our money comes in and we spend it all, that’s not a healthy way of living. If we’re using all of our money the minute that it comes in, we won’t be able to invest, save, or give. We won’t be able to establish that balance, which is why we need to have boundaries with our spending.
Saving is something that we all know we should be doing, but it’s easier said than done. The first step to doing that is to make sure we’re saving at least some of the money that is going into your household.
A great example of this is emergency accounts or rainy day funds. When you have that savings to fall back on, you won’t need to worry about an unplanned emergency like your car breaking down, or being out of work for a certain amount of time due to a personal emergency.
🚫 The danger of saving 🚫
There are dangers to just saving, believe it or not. The most obvious one? You’re not enjoying your money! You can be so good at saving and investing that you’re not living. You begin waiting for permission to spend, or feeling like you need to earn the right to spend, and that’s not a healthy mindset. Creating a balance helps to adjust that relationship back to a healthy place.
Investing, at its core, is about taking your money and putting it somewhere for later with the potential of a return (which is what makes it different from saving).
You can invest in your own business, the stock market, the bond market, or plenty of other businesses/places/people. It’s actually critically important to invest because investments grow your money. The more you can invest, the more your money is working for you, and growing. It’s not static; it’s in a container that will continue to grow for later use.
🚫 The danger of investing 🚫
Remember, if you’re going all-in on investing then you’re not fully understanding what your money is for. You’re also putting yourself at risk if all your investments bottom out. You need to make a more well-rounded goal than just making more money on top of your already existing money.
The act of giving money is so fulfilling for most of us. What’s important to note about giving is that it doesn’t have to be massive, or huge amounts, it can just be giving a little more here, or there, which can in turn make a huge difference in your happiness. When we feel stable in our income and know we have enough, giving can be truly amazing.
If this hasn’t been a part of your financial life yet then I really encourage it. It’s a powerful way to feel your money in a different way.
🚫 The danger of giving 🚫
Though it’s probably obvious, the danger is giving money is being too generous, which is actually a money personality as well. And while you shouldn’t be feeling any obligation to give your money away, everything should be fitting into your balance of what you want to do with your money.
Balance all four money bears
It’s hard to make big changes in your financial life, let’s not downplay that! So, how do you take the first step towards checking off all four of these boxes — rather than just leaning on one or two? Here are some strategies:
- If you’re not a saver, set up an automatic transfer into your account as a first baby step.
- If you’re investing, increase it by a little, or if you’ve never invested, go set up an investment account.
- If you haven’t been giving? Double your tip the next time you eat out and see how it makes you feel.
- If you’re not spending, go splurge on one item!
Your goal for your money is to enhance your life. Go check all four boxes, take that first step, and experience it all while enhancing your finances.
I want to hear about your one small step!
Thanks for tuning in!
Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Everyday Money Show with Hannah Moore. I look forward to sharing even more tips on how to create a balance in managing your money!
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Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Access all our free resources, including the Budget Planner, Values Exercise, Balance Sheet, and more, when you sign up for the Free Resources List with your email address!
- Consider being a visual learner when beginning to manage your money with BudgetingBlocks™, an interactive budgeting process that helps you create a budget that is both user-friendly and meets your money expectations.