Let’s be clear, spending isn’t necessarily the enemy of financial security.
When we learn to use our money to purchase things that make our lives richer, healthier and to improve the world around us we are ensuring that our future will be full of happiness.
The problem comes when we spend out of habit, insecurity, or without purpose. When we spend thoughtlessly, we are doing nothing to improve our future and reinforce negative ideas about money in our minds.
The key to safeguarding our financial futures is becoming aware of exactly how we spend out money – and how we waste it.
Learn to spend with a purpose and you’ll find that it’s easier to save money for the future and feel more at ease with our finances.
1. Give yourself a waiting period before making unnecessary purchases. Different people have different rules. One I’ve heard recently, is to wait an hour per dollar cost of the purchase. During this cooling off period, think about alternatives and what you’d have to give up to make the purchase happen. If after this time, you still want the item, go ahead and buy it. Chances are good, however, that you’ll decide that you don’t really need it or forget about it altogether.
2. Make giving to charity a priority. Again, the percentages you give are highly personal, but make a point to designate a portion of your income to charitable giving. Being able to give with a generous heart helps put money in perspective and can help rid you of insecure or negative feelings about money. Holding on too tightly doesn’t make most people feel more secure; instead it emphasizes and reinforces feelings of insecurity.
3. Try to shop with cash as often as possible. Paying with cash feels more real to most people and can make it easier to resist smaller impulse purchases. You can also help yourself stick to daily spending limits if you only carry that amount of cash with you each day.
4. Make a game of seeing how long you can go without spending. Challenge yourself to reuse, recycle, and make do or go without. This isn’t only for the sake of your pocketbook; it is also good for our shared environment and can help break an unhealthy attachment to material things.
5. Confront your fears and insecurities about money. If you are afraid of seeming cheap or poor, re-frame those negative traits as being wise, environmentally friendly, frugal, and less materialistic or other more positive descriptors. If you think that money is inherently bad or shouldn’t matter to “nice” people, challenge those beliefs by thinking of ways that money can do good or nice people that you do know who are financially secure.
6. Don’t be afraid of spending money as an investment. I’m not just talking about mutual funds and stocks but things that can be purchased with money that will make your life richer and fuller. Of course, this will require that you are completely honest with yourself to avoid “investing” money on short-lived whims or fancies. However, don’t deprive yourself of a top-of-the line mountain bike if riding the trails gives you joy and energy or a professional sewing machine if making your own clothes fulfills your need to be creative and work with your hands. Spend freely on the things which will enrich your life and cut corners on those which don’t matter.
True financial security doesn’t only come from money in the bank; it also means that you are at peace with your spending. And that you feel in control of your money, rather than your money controlling you.
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