Feeling in Control of your Finances 

Education 4 min read

24 Sep 2020

Have you ever had the dream where you’re driving a car which is flying down the road? You reach your foot over to the brake pedal to slow the car down, but no matter how hard you press, nothing happens. You grab the steering wheel to manoeuvre the car, but that’s not working either. You feel helpless. Nothing you can do will make a difference.  
 

While there are various interpretations of the ‘meaning’ of this dream, most suggest that it stems from a feeling about not being in control. It is said to relate to the feeling of being a silent passenger rather than being in control over what is going to happen. 

When it comes to daily life, so many things can seem beyond our control. Our employer imposes a pay cut. The Government raise taxes. The local shop increases the price of some goods. While we may not be able to exert direct influence over some of these aspects, there are always measures which we can take. We could talk to our employer about working some extra hours. We could have a look at our taxes to ensure we’re claiming the correct allowances. We could start shopping in a different supermarket, or change the items which we buy. 
 

Control the Controllables 

To draw an analogy from the world of sports, most sports psychologist have spoken in one form of another about ‘controlling the controllables’; focusing on those things which you can influence or are under your control, and not wasting your time or energy on elements over which you have no power. 

The same is true with our finances. Many of us can be overwhelmed by our financial situation. We see a small salary, and think we’ll never be able to make ends meet. A mortgage repayment seems to be huge, and you feel that you’ll never pay it off. Our outgoings are so large that we justify buying lots of little things as it doesn’t make much difference in the greater scheme of things.   

 

Locus of Control 

One way to examine our own personality is to look at whether we tend to have a more internal or external locus of control. The conceptdeveloped by an American psychologist, Julian Rotter, in the 1950sdescribes our perceptions about the degree to which we feel that we are in charge of our own destiny. 
 

People with an internal locus of control feel that they make things happen. They feel like their actions are as a direct result of their behaviours. Conversely, people who have an external locus of control are more likely to believe in luck, fate, destiny or other external forces. 

As an example, when it comes to our finances, we might feel that we’re underpaid at work and our salary doesn’t reflect the hard work which we put in and importance to the organisation. Alternatively, another person in a similar position might feel like they haven’t pushed on to gain additional qualifications or that they could work harder to achieve more. 

 

The Power of Positive  

In reality, this is a scale rather than two alternative options, and most people lie somewhere in between these points. Those who tend to have a more internal locus of control are typically more responsible for their own actions regardless of the outcome. 

When it comes to our finances, having a feeling of control of your financial destiny can make a huge difference. By starting small, by making a few positive changes, suddenly you start to see how your situation can slowly improve. Through this series, will give you some practical tips and techniques to help you feel more knowledgeable, informed about your financial matters. 


Money on your Mind is a new series which aims to help you build your financial confidence. You’ll find insights, tips and suggestion to help you feel more knowledgeable about managing your money, as well as jargon free answers to some basic financial questions.

The content within this series is aimed to provide general guidance and information only. It does not represent financial advice.