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If culture determines behaviour, how does this affect our personal budgets?

Some cultures look after family first before paying bills, some take a holiday or purchase a luxury item before helping family, but, at the end of the day, we all only have so much income to play with to meet our essential costs.

Habits, practices and beliefs form the norm and are all part of our culture that is further determined through our behaviours.

What do you think our behaviour with money should be like?

A lot of our financial decisions are influenced by our culture, especially in the choices we make during the course of budgeting. Our priorities all differ according to what we think is right for us.

These choices become inherent to us because they are strongly part of who we are, to the point we do not realise that we are doing it.

As financial mentors, we see many people and one of the things that commonly derides their budget is about the choices they have made. When they start to look at their income and their outgoings they start to panic because they are already in a huge deficit and unable to cope with the situation.

The challenge for us is not about crunching the numbers to make the budget work, it’s about how we can deliver across to the client the message that this is how it’s going to be for a certain period of time and not making them feel that their choices were wrong.

The cultural choices that were made were not necessarily irrational or wrong at all, it’s just reality that the figures can’t back up the choices.

The change in behaviour over financial decisions does not make you any less according to what you believe in.

Instead, look into the strength and power of your culture that keeps your identity yours, but just check that you can afford to live and meet your essential costs before being drawn into any traditional beliefs.

When it comes to real budgeting, let the numbers decide what we can and what we can’t do. This is the only way where you can get to celebrate the financial freedom you are waiting for. There is no shortcut to financial freedom – we have to do the hard yards.

If you’re struggling to make the hard financial decisions, or just need some free confidential advice on making your cash go further, contact us at North Otago Budget Advice.

We are here to help you choose the best option for your finances and not to tell you what to do in today’s difficult financial climate.

  • Katrina Kelly is a financial mentor for Family Works and the North Otago Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator.