When it comes to winning in the world of money, I’m a firm believer in the power of the liberal arts. Sometimes, a broad base of knowledge can serve you better than a narrow set of skills in mathematics, business, or investing. So buck up, theater majors and graduates of the School of Hard Knocks; here are eight non-finance skills that will make you a money master.
Socrates was onto something when he said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Self awareness is the key to understanding the level of investment risk you’re comfortable with, the situations that trigger impulsive consumer behavior, and the strengths you can build upon to become more successful with money. Stretch your self-awareness muscle a little every day by being mindful of your emotional responses to advertising and noticing which parts of your budget are the easiest and most difficult to stick to.
How do you become a money master while living in the middle of a three-ring consumer circus? You develop superhuman levels of self-control. Money masters resist impulse buys (at least most of the time), drive reliable used cars instead of new ones, shred stacks of preapproved credit card offers, and stick to their budgets despite everything that urges them to do otherwise. (See also: 6 Ways to Resist a Splurge)
In the U.S., keeping up with the Joneses is practically a national pastime. Those in charge of their financial futures evolve beyond the constant comparisons that drain time, energy, and money. How do they do it? They cultivate authentic self-confidence and are able to live by a simple, yet fundamental truth: Who they are is far more than what they buy. (See also: 3 Ways Confidence Makes You Better With Money)
4. Big-picture thinking
Money masters always play with the end-goal in mind. That means sacrificing when necessary to pay down student loans, avoid credit card debt, save for retirement, and build a healthy emergency fund. It means understanding that long-term financial security is the result of dozens of tiny, strategic decisions they make every single day.
For those of us who don’t have relatives in the oil business or who haven’t won the lottery, achieving financial security takes patience. Delaying gratification, taking the long-view on investments, building wealth dollar by dollar — these are the traits of true money masters. Without patience, you’ll always be seduced by get-rich-quick schemes, always expose your principal to unnecessary risk, and only become the master of financial disaster. (See also: 8 Ways Being Patient Saves You Money)
6. Critical thinking
I hate to alarm you, but there are hordes of people after your money. Every day, scammers and shady investment brokers are developing new and better ways to relieve you of your hard-earned cash. In this environment, critical thinking is a survival skill. Money masters consider each expenditure carefully, arm themselves with unbiased information, and can spot a too-good-to-be-true investment from a mile away. (See also: 7 Steps to Improving Your Critical Thinking)
Creativity helps people make money and save it. Some of the most creative folks I’ve ever met were raised during the Great Depression, and the lessons they learned permanently shaped their relationships with money. These money masters know how to stretch a dollar to within an inch of its life (without feeling deprived for a second), grow their own food, repurpose items, and build thriving cottage businesses. (See also: 9 Money Lessons to Take From the Great Depression)
Communication is the life skill that feeds all the others. Money masters are able to talk openly with their partners about finances, negotiate with diplomacy, share their knowledge, and ask the sorts of the questions that empower smart investing. (See also: 5 Money Conversations Every Couple Should Have)