In his book titled “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a …,” Mark Manson points out in his crass yet poignant way that we all have money problems. He illustrates this by saying that even Warren Buffett has money problems — his money problems are just better.
As a student of the universe living a very human experience, I struggle with the importance I (Dare I say, we?) place on money. I wholeheartedly understand that money does not buy happiness, but it does provide choices. If done thoughtfully, I can make choices that help my personal development and growth. That makes my heart sing.
When it comes to your personal finances, I encourage you to consider the following:
What Are Your Priorities?
I have found that people find the time and money for important things. The problem is that we frequently prioritize what’s important without giving it much thought, and then ruminate on what material things we believe are lacking in our lives. So, I recommend folks first take an honest look at where their money is going. Forewarning — it may be uncomfortable, but it is a necessary step to move forward.
Next, take a 10,000-foot view to begin the process of prioritization. For example, do you want to travel more? Retire early? Pay off debt? Having clarity in your goals will allow you to adjust the spending that is not helping you get there. Healthy eating is one of my priorities, so I meal plan each Sunday evening. My ritual of planning our family dinners, packing my lunch and making breakfast helps me meet that goal and the goal of not overspending on takeout. It also helps keep our grocery bill reasonable by limiting impulse purchases. Win, win, win!
What Are You Really Looking For?
You may find that self-introspection helps with your prioritization process. But, again, this can also cause discomfort. One of the pieces of wisdom that my stepmom gave me is, “What you’re looking for is not in there.” Whether it’s the refrigerator, a box of new shoes or the latest and greatest gadget, it doesn’t contain the fulfillment we seek.
Many of us fill our lives with “stuff” when our soul needs nourishing. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky discusses happiness setpoint in her research-based book “The How of Happiness.” In a nutshell, we experience temporary increases in happiness when “good things” happen, including raises, purchases, etc. However, we become acclimated to having those things and then need new stuff to make us happy again. If we spend money to get that temporary high, there will never be enough.
Money is very personal, and how we choose to spend it can be deeply connected to our sense of self. I encourage you to take a deep look that connection and see if it’s holding you back from attaining your goals.