Money is a necessary tool for living in today’s society. However, all too often we let the tool control us. If we forget that money is a tool and think only about its necessity, money quickly takes control of our lives.

How do you know if you are a slave to money? The answer has nothing to do with wealth or class. The poor, middle class, and rich of all professions can be trapped by money. It has nothing to do with personality. People can be kind, cold, or sweet, but have financial problems. It doesn’t even have anything to do with their outward management of money. Spendthrifts and coupon-clippers may both be slaves to their paychecks. The only gauge is your direct relationship with your money.

Do you work for money or does it work for you?

Money has energy and force, which is why it can accomplish so much. You need to know if your money is using its energy to work for you? Is it helping you accomplish your goals? Is it creating more money? Or is it applying all of its pressure on you, making you work harder?

Are you stuck in the debt cycle?

The most obvious slaves are those trapped in the debt cycle. If you buy first and pay later you immediately become a slave. You must now earn money for your creditors instead of yourself. This creates large amounts of stress and you lose the freedom to dictate where your money goes. Before you even receive your paycheck, it is divided between government taxes, bills and creditors. Those who continue the debt cycle spend their entire lives making money for other people. However, debt is just one indication of slavery.

Where is your money directed?

Money can use its force to help you, if you give it direction. It can generate more assets and lessen liabilities. Money can work and generate assets through investing. It is smart to always have some amount kept safe, but the rest should be out working. This creates financial freedom.

Are your dreams controlled by the amount of money you earn?

Money is a necessary tool for most dreams and aspirations. It should not dictate whether the dream is possible. People who are a slave to money say things like, “I can’t afford to travel to Europe” or “It isn’t possible to start my own business in this market.” People who know that money is a tool say, “This is what I want to do. Now how do I use my money to accomplish it?” Since the first type of person is controlled by money, they rarely achieve any of their ambitions. The second type of person almost always succeeds because they see money as a problem to be fixed instead of as a locked cage.

Do you manage finances reactively or proactively?

We have looked at money’s side of the slave equation; now let’s look at your side. The path to slavery or freedom begins in the mind. It comes down to whether you manage your finances reactively or proactively. The reactive manager acts before thinking of the financial implications. He is then stuck working to make up for that action. The proactive manager is deliberate. She considers all of the implications, arranges her finances to help her and then acts. After the process is complete she is free to start something else. The reactive manager is never free because he impulsively begins another process before the first is complete.

Do you know what your money is doing at all times?

The free man knows at all times whether or not his money is working for him and how much it is earning. He knows exactly what he should and should not do with his money at the moment. The slave is impulsive. She usually doesn’t know where her finances stand. She fulfills a want then goes home to see what damage has been done. Each purchase becomes a slave driver and it loses its charm. This is why, for many people, money can never bring happiness. It instead brings slavery. If managed proactively, however, money can bring freedom, which certainly brings greater joy.

Do you pay yourself first?

Those who understand how to use money know the importance of paying themselves first. If money is a tool, then it is imperative to use it to progress. Money slaves pay everyone else first and rarely have anything left over. Paying yourself first means immediately putting some money into savings or investments. It does not mean splurging at the mall. That is just another way of paying others first.

Are you generous?

This final test may seem unusual, but it is just as important as the others. Those who fear generosity are slaves to their money, whether they have a lot of it or a little. For the slave, money is the illusion of freedom. They believe that if they start earning enough they will finally be financially free. They don’t realize it is their habits that keep them in bondage, not their money. They hold tight to the illusion. They say things such as, “I worked hard for this money and I need it” or “When I have more, then I will give.” Those who see money as a tool are much more willing to share. They recognize that the tool can always be used to create more money.

Most people in today’s society are slaves. Odds are, if you fit in perfectly with the crowd you are a slave. The first step to freedom is recognition. If you recognize the ways in which money is controlling your life, then you know what to change to finally make money work for you.

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