4 Ways to Use Money As a Tool, Not a Toy

When I was teaching, kids would constantly slam the classroom door on their friends or try to hold it closed so others couldn’t get in. At some point, I started telling that them that the door was a tool not a toy.

I would then launch into musing about why they thought it was a toy-the shiny handle? The fact that it moved? Etc.

Just as a door can be used as a tool or a toy, so can money.

Money is a tool.

Money is not a toy.

Thinking of money in this way starts to get you in the mindset of using money for a specific purpose rather than than throwing it around the way you would a ball or stuffed animal-or a classroom door.

Mapped out Money has a great post on The Best Strategy to Convince Your Spouse to Budget and in it, they liken money to a tool that can make or break your marriage. It can be a clamp holding you and your spouse together. Or it can be a crowbar, prying you apart.

I love that analogy. When you and your spouse are working together and hitting goals as a team with your money, that money acts as a clamp that strengthens not only the relationship, but also your financial position. When money isn’t managed well, it becomes a crowbar, coming in between your and your spouse and increasing the distance between you.

This analogy can also be extended beyond how money works in a marriage to how money works in general.

If you use money as a toy, toss it around and don’t keep track of it, it will create a sense of chaos in your life where you don’t know where it’s coming from or where it went.

Anyone with toddlers can relate to the fact that toys come and go and get destroyed, and you’re constantly wondering where they came from and when you desperately need one (because someone is screaming for it), you don’t know where it is.

If you don’t keep track of your income or use a budget to tell your money where to go. If you’re just spending it as you feel like it. If you’re focused on things that you “deserve” or “need” or “can’t live without,” treating your money like a toy, financial wins simply won’t be there.

Treating your money as a tool to be used for intentionally for a specific purpose not only gives you greater control, but it means that your money will be working for you.

4 Ways to Use Money As a Tool:

Use cash

Using cash makes it much harder to bust your budget. If you’re using cash, there’s less to track because you just count the money in the envelope. If there’s money, you can use it. If there’s no money, then you can’t spend it.

Tackle debt

Using money as a tool to tackle debt means that you’re working your way to financial freedom. In my opinion, this is the ultimate way to use money as a tool.


I’m not an investment pro, though one of my goals is to learn more. But investing money means that it’s working for you. Watching our money make money is one of the coolest things that we’ve been able to do.

Fill up Sinking Funds

I’ve talked about sinking funds quite a bit on the blog. I think they are one of the best, and possibly underrated, money management strategies. You can read more about them in previous posts:

As you can see, I’m a big fan! Filling up sinking funds means that when you need money for an upcoming expense, it’s there.

Making sure you’re using money as a tool rather than a toy will move you closer to your financial goals!

What do you think? Do you use money as a tool or a toy???

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