Show your Life some Love: Part 2
Let’s continue talking about how to Show your own Life some Love this February.
In Show your Life some Love: Part 1 we talked about how to show up and love your mornings better. You can read about that here.
This week we are going to discuss how to show some love to your money. So get your wallet out and let’s get started!
How do we Show our Money some Love??
Having more of it sounds so good, but ironically no matter how much we get there still never seems to be q-u-i-t-e enough. Have you ever noticed that frustrating phenomenon? Or is it just me?
Last year when sheltering-in-place got started in earnest, Mr. Perfect told me he wanted to institue a spending fast. He said this with his ‘serious face’. (He saves that for when he is REALLY serious. Seriously.)
Times being so unusual, I couldn’t think of a reason to disagree. Soooooo the spending fast commenced. The rules were simple and not terribly strict.
We would primarily spend money on our regular bills and on groceries only. If there was anything else that needed to be ordered, it had to be done simultanious with bill paying, which happened twice per month. Unnecessary expenses were to be kept to a bare minimum, ideally zero.
For someone like me, who has a very special relationship with Amazon Prime, this was a little painful. It meant that if I thought of something we ‘needed’, I couldn’t just go and order it, I had to wait.
The results of this spending fast?
We saved money, yes. But perhaps the more significant result was the mental shift that occurred.
I was able to identify a few unhealthy spending habits in my life, and figure out some new-to-me ways to show my budget a little more love. Maybe you can relate.
Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should buy it.
Bad Habit #1: The Habit of Buying Spontaneously
I think the hardest part of the spending fast was having to plan my buying. I was in the habit of thinking of something we needed (ie: I wanted) and just hopping on Amazon or wherever and ordering it up! Voilá! Done and done. Usually I didn’t even need to take the time to imput my payment information.
The luxury of convenience. Progress. Whatever you call it, it was the reason my total online spending over the course of a month was a shock to me.
Because once you’ve ordered something, it leaves your mind. Which is the convenience factor at play…you no longer have to remember to order it.
But that’s also the danger. Because I didn’t realize how often I did that, I didn’t ever really understand how much I was spending.
The Love: More Intentional Spending
I started planning my spending with more intention.
1. I created a folder that went in with my bills and named it Orders. In it went anything I thought we needed (like pet meds or candles). When I pay bills I review whatever is in the folder and re-evaluate if now is a good time to afford it.
Some things get ordered. Some things remain in the folder for next time. Some things go in the trash.
2. I created an Order Next list on Amazon. Same idea but perhaps even more impactful. Now when I have a light-bulb moment of something I think we need or I simply can’t do ‘X’ until I get ‘Y’, I look it up and stick it in that list. Again, it lets me re-evaluate whether or not I really need it when time comes to order or if it can wait. Or if I really didn’t need it after all.
The ‘It’s only $5, why not buy it’ mentality has probably cost me over $10,000 at this point in my life.
Bad Habit #2: The Habit of Rationalizing the Cost
I don’t generally spend a lot of money.
At. One. Time.
I was in the habit of rationalizing purchases because they really weren’t that expensive. A $5 art stencil here, a $10 book there, a $20 shirt whenever I went to TJMaxx.
Then I started ordering everything online only once or twice a month and realized how much all those ‘inexpensive things’ added up when you had them in your cart all at once.
Suddenly some things became much clearer. Gulp.
And it wasn’t just online. My favorite places to shop are TJMaxx, Home Goods and Target. Where things generally aren’t terribly pricey. But if you start adding up those smaller purchases over time, suddenly a lot of money has disappeared.
Apparently buying four $20 shirts in the course of one month is NOT less expensive than buying ONE $80 shirt one time. I was fooling myself into thinking I was being thrifty. (And I’m using that word loosely.)
[More about the four $20 shirts vs. one $80 shirt when we discuss Showing some Love to our Stuff.]
The Love: Re-evaluate WHY I am Buying
I decided to try and think about my “why” when I am in the process of purchasing.
1. Am I buying it because it is a good deal or do I really LOVE it? Is it exactly what I am looking for or is it a ‘make-do’ solution? See: every item in my closet that was a good deal and has been worn once
2. Am I buying it because I think I must have it before I can complete/start a project…or is there some other solution I could try? See: specialty recipe ingredients/tools, meditation cushion
3. Am I buying it because it is a “New Shiny” that has caught my eye? Do I already have something like it at home? See: fun art supplies, blue nail polish, pretty notebooks
4. Am I buying it solely because I think it is lovely, fun, amazing? Do I really need to OWN it…or can I just admire it in the store/online? See: beautiful heavy sweaters (I live in the deep south), super-cute 1000 piece puzzles (I hate anything more than 500 pieces)
You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.
Bad Habit #3: The Habit of Winging the Financial Plan
Mr. Perfect & I are financially comfortable, I think you would say. We aren’t rich; sometimes we have more month than money, just like everyone. But our bills get paid and we eat pizza on Friday nights.
However, we aren’t really budgeters. (I feel like that should be a show, like The Mouseketeers. The Budgeteers!) And occasionally things get away from us.
Up until this point we haven’t really had ‘Financial Goals’. Sorry, Dave Ramsey. If we are being totally honest, this isn’t a conversation we really wanted to have…talking about money with your spouse can be like walking through a minefield.
But it also meant we weren’t giving our money a job. So if there was money in the bank…well, then there was money to spend.
And we wondered why our savings account wasn’t getting any bigger. Ha.
The Love: Making our Money get a Job
We had the hard conversation. In stages.
1. Pick a job for the money today.
We started gently and just chose a bill we wanted to get paid off. And whatever money we weren’t spending was directed there.
Then we decided on something we wanted to purchase. And whatever money we weren’t spending was directed there.
2. Create some goals for tomorrow.
We finally started sitting down weekly and looking at where our money was going. And made a couple actual Financial Goals for 2021.
Now there is a reason to move money in a specific direction instead of letting it just lay around and watch tv. Every week I’m looking for some money to move towards a goal that we have chosen.
3. Review and Evaluate how money gets spent.
Looking together at what money was spent (and what we spent it on) each week makes us both more accountable. And we can evaluate our spending.
Do we feel good about what we bought this week? Or was there some spending that left us with a any regret? This informs how we move forward.
If you are not content today, there is nothing you can buy tomorrow to change that.
How can you use this information to Show your own Money some Love??
1. Try a spending fast.
There are so many ideas out there.
My recommendation: don’t overthink it. Just decide what is and is not acceptable spending for you.
Decide on a time limit. Knowing how long you are going to restrict yourself helps you focus in the short-term.
Decide where the money you save is going to go. Having a goal will also motivate you to say no to things not on your acceptable spending list.
2. Make a list of the things you can do that don’t cost any money.
This may seem like an odd suggestion, but if you look around, you may be surprised at how much you already have.
When I made this list last spring, I discovered I had SO many books I hadn’t read, several craft projects that weren’t completed, and a project or two that had lingered. (Hello, interenet password book, I’m looking at you.)
By making this list you re-visit things that have dropped into the back of your conciousness. We forget a lot of what we have because we are so focused on what we want.
3. Challenge yourself to find another way.
Missing something you think you need? Google a substitution! The Google KNOWS ALL. I seriously do this All. The. Time.
Or can you find what you need without buying it? Can you borrow it? Can you make it yourself?
Just asking yourself these questions before you run out and purchase something forces you to slow down and think outside the spending box.
This helps break the habit of assuming we need that one thing we don’t have in order to get something done.
4. Make yourself wait.
Insist that you wait a set amount of time before you buy something.
Even if it is just 3o minutes, sometimes if you just walk away you give yourself enough time to recognize that you don’t really need it at all. At a minimum the need to BUY IT NOW subsides and you can make decisions from a less emotional mindset.
Another way is to create a Wish List. This works on tons of websites.
Create an account and put everything you think you want on the list. Having a record of what I think I want somehow makes it easier to wait. And often when you revisit you find that there are things on there that you don’t really want, after all.
This works especially well on Amazon. I actually have multiple lists created (Order Next, Books I think I want, Sheri’s Saved Stuff). This helps me keep track of things I may want to buy in the future, as well as have a quick look at what I need to order in the near term.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.
Money isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s what we do with it that makes it so. And a lot of our attitudes and habits around money are unconcious.
So bring the unconcious forward and examine it for a minute. Does how you are managing your money bring you joy?
If not, consider changing things up a bit and see what happens.
Don’t let your money be the boss of you. Go show it some love and affection but make sure you are the one in charge. Kind-of like a puppy. Money can be the source of a lot of joy, as long as you aren’t letting it run amuck and chew up all your good shoes. (Wink.)