Have you ever spent money on something that you thought you “needed”?
I just finished google searching new raincoats, because I “need” a new raincoat. In reality I have a dozen different coats, all of them that would do just fine keeping me warm and relatively dry should I be running errands in the rain. I have several awesome umbrellas that could also work in such situations, not to mention about 4 pairs of proper waterproof boots, at varying heights and styles.
So do I “need” a raincoat? No, not really. But I want one. I want one that is mid-thigh length, casual enough to take Ruby for a walk in, but cute enough to wear with jeans and one of my more stylish boots out to lunch with my girlfriends…should it be raining of course.
Do we ever really need anything?
Outside of food, shelter, and basic clothing, the answer is no.
Yet here I am googling rain coats to fill a “need” that I have actually imagined or created all in my own mind. Why? Why do so many of us do this? Why do we think we need a bigger house, a nicer car, more extravagant vacations, or an arsenal of specialized coats that will be worn less than a handful of times per year (Let’s be honest, how many semi-casual, rainy day lunch dates do my girlfriends and I actual go on?)
We do this because we lack contentment.
Contentment is the key to spending less money on things you don’t really need, to impress people you don’t even know or like.
I recently read an article that reminded me of this and I wanted to share my take on the subject with you…
I live in a state of contentment (most of the time), and because of that I’ve been able to manage my finances in a way that allows me the joy of buying a new raincoat as I wish. Bring on the ladies that lunch in the rain!
However, if I’m being perfectly honest, there are times I struggle with feeling satisfied with my life or the things that I have, as I think most people do now and then. Every time I find myself spending more money then I originally intended I stop and wonder, am I chasing some illusion I’ve created for myself? Am I practicing contentment for all I already have? The answer is usually no.
If you want to stop spending money, stop chasing a life or image you don’t really care about, or stop feeling bad about the things you don’t have, then I challenge you to practice these five things.
I promise it will change your life, and your bank account.
We talk a lot about gratitude over here, that’s because it works! Adopting a grateful mindset and practicing gratitude is life changing.
I mean it when I say practice. You really have to work on slowing down and appreciating all the things. Doing this can take you from a state of feeling like you don’t have enough to feeling overcome with emotion at the realization of how much you actually have.
The air you’re breathing right now, the eyes you’re using to read this, the glorious mind you have that allows you to comprehend! It’s all so amazing if you stop and think about it! And when you do stop and think about it you’ll realize how much you actually have right in front of you, right here in your physical space at this moment.
A good dose of gratitude will halt many purchases right in their tracks. Try it.
Focus on the things you already have
This is a more tactical practice, but I promise, when combined with practicing gratitude can really help you feel better and stop spending money!
Focusing on what you already have, means actually taking an inventory of the possessions that you currently own, or the experiences that you’ve already experienced.
In the example of my raincoat, I actually went into my closet and looked at each and every coat I owned, I thoughtfully and appreciatively reflected on which ones would do well in the rain and quickly realized that this “need” for a raincoat that I had was actually a want. Doing this will help you think twice before sending your hard earned money for sure!
Stop the Comparison
Where do we get these ideas in our head anyway? What drives us to think the things we have are inadequate to begin with? With certainty I can tell you, it’s the comparisons we make to other people we see, or other things that look better than our things.
It’s insane! It’s a waste of time and money.
If you read a previous article I wrote, Your Career is an Illusion, you’ll remember me sharing that 58% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved. These may be the people you’re looking at and thinking, man…I wish I could be living like them. That’s not a good plan.
The thing is we’ll never know if the person that pulls up next to us at the stop light, in the flashy new Mercedes, with the seriously coveted handbag in the front seat, wearing the exact rain coat that you want is broke or not! It’s impossible to tell these days, with the amount of debt people are in and the way Americans so effortlessly mortgage their lives away to have bigger and better things, you just can’t tell what’s real and what’s an illusion.
And it’s not just material things. It’s everything! I had a discovery call with a 22 year old potential client the other day and she shared with me that she had just got lip injections. And here I was thinking those plump lips were a gift from God!
Since it’s too hard to tell who is legit and who isn’t – why bother. Just stop comparing yourself to others and you’ll find out what actually matters to YOU. Heck, you may even begin to realize that you have it pretty good, just the way things are.
Mindset and Meditation
Another topic I get into a lot on this blog is mindset and meditation, the reason why, again, is because it works! We can change our mindsets, we can change our outlook on life, and we can change how we see ourselves and the world we live in.
Meditation is one way how.
I won’t get into the details of how and why you should meditate, that’s a journey you can chose to embark on when or if you are ready. Just know if you haven’t tried it you should. If you aren’t meditating daily, challenge yourself to increase your practice, and if you do have a regular meditation practice…well, you get it.
I’ve never met a single person in my life that said meditating made things worse.
What would an article talking about how you can stop spending money be if I didn’t at least mention a budget?!
Creating a budget (and sticking to it) will absolutely help you manage your finances and your life. You will feel like a new person if you can master a budget and the only way to do that is to practice.
Sure you may fail at it the first few times, you may need to adjust your budget, but sooner or later you will be able to pinpoint reasonable amounts of money to spend on things like clothing, eating out, vacations, etc. Once you do that you will feel less guilt or pressure to buy things you don’t really need, because those things are not in your budget. They are not a part of your goals or plans and it’s easy to say no to things that don’t support your ultimate dream.
A long time ago friends and I would go to this annual horse race (booze fest). If you live in NJ you will know “The Hunt” or the more proper name, the Far Hills Race Meeting. We went every year, and for a bunch of young 20-somethings the cost added up quickly to hundreds of dollars. I recall one year while I was organizing our spot, and contributions for food, and drinks (mostly drinks) one of my friends said that she wasn’t going to go this year. I was shocked…“why”, I said? She said one sentence…it’s not in our budget this year.
I’ve never forgotten that exchange between us. I was so impressed. I didn’t think she was being cheap, I didn’t think she was poor or couldn’t afford it. I thought, wow, she is so smart to be budgeting her life like this. I thought, hmmm, she must have some other cool, more important stuff to spend her money on. I loved it.
Consider a budget. Practice refining your budget, and know that you will feel amazing when you tell your friends and family, sorry, not sorry, but it’s not in my budget right now.
I want you to know you are enough, the way you look, where you live, what you have. It’s all enough and it's perfection in its own way. Putting some effort into the 5 practices I mention above, will hopefully help you see that.
I’m so curious to know if any of these things have worked for you? What struggles are you having with managing money and life satisfaction? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below if you please and I’ll be sure to check back and respond.
Thanks for reading!