How much money is enough? How to want what you already have!
Do you struggle with how much money is enough for you and your family? And do you want to want what you already have?
What if there is a way to reap the benefits of years of hard work right in your own home? You might be sitting among countless riches you just can’t see or appreciate anymore because they have become part of the background of your life.
The advertising messages you receive 24/7 are designed to make you feel like the grass is always greener and want more. These messages are aimed at you and your family so you think if you just had this tool/product/service/item, etc. your life would be complete.
there is no end – You Never Reach The Top
However, as anyone who has been in this cycle knows, YOU NEVER REACH THE TOP. You never get “there” – where you are magically happy with your house/car/style, etc.
So, how do you counteract all of this programming being thrown your way? How do you negotiate between those things you really do need or genuinely would like to have versus constant impulse buys?
Start Questioning Your Motives
One way to begin is to start questioning your motives. Like, do you need a white shirt because your old one has holes and is beyond repair? Or is that you just saw a really put together Mom on Instagram rocking one and you want to be like her (along with the tropical setting).
Realize Everything is a Trade
The second way is to realize everything is a trade. Every time you put down your hard earned money online, in person, etc. you have just made a trade.
In the excellent book “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, they discuss all of the trades you make in your life. Their book has many eye-opening exercises, but the first is figuring out your real hourly wage.
If you figure out that you make 15 dollars an hour and you decide to purchase a new shirt for $30.00 (on sale!), you just traded 2 hours of your life for that shirt. Only you will know if that trade is really worth it, but 2 hours is a lot for something you may only wear once or twice. Right? The idea is to be cognizant of your choices and make sure it is worth it before you hit “buy”.
Take Stock of What You Already own
The third way to figure out how much is enough, is to take stock of what you already have. If you are like most people, you probably have no idea what you even own anymore. Another exercise from the book “Your Money or Your Life”, is to take a detailed inventory of everything you own in every room of your house/apartment, including the attic, basement, garage, etc.
Once you have this very detailed and most likely lengthy list, you go through and assign a value in dollars for what you paid AND what you think it would be worth today to sell. It can take a long time to complete this assignment, but it is a fantastic wake up call.
You will soon realize how many of your hours and years of your life are linked to items you can’t even be bothered to keep track of properly! By using the hourly wage trade formula you will also know what all of these things cost you. The idea is not to shame you, but to wake you up to be aware if you want to continue this behavior,
For instance, you may find you have 10 light bulbs when you thought you had 2, and the exercise will save you money right there. By taking stock of what you have spent in the past, you will want to get your money (and therefore your life) back which is the whole point. This exercise can truly be a life altering shift in your thinking, if you let it be.
“Making Do” with What You Already Have
The fourth way is to make do with what you already have. 100 years ago people got along just fine living day to day without Amazon delivering to their house. (Don’t get me wrong – I love Amazon and the convenience). However, at some point you have to reach enoughness – where you have “sufficient or adequate” things to satisfy your needs.
You may know you really don’t need anything else and you may instead be any of the following:
- Seeking distraction from something bothering you
- Eager for the very temporary “high” a new purchase gives you
If you can picture all of the things you just cataloged, you may find yourself feeling grateful for what you already have. In fact, you may have so much “plenty” you could share with others less fortunate than you.
Remember Yankee Ingenuity used by early American settlers to make do, use it up, wear it out, etc.? Our current situation with overflowing landfills could use a reboot of this kind. We need to think about where we can re-purpose things rather than always buying new. In other words, learn to make do.
Putting it to the Test – Try a “No Spend Month”
The fifth way to make the money you’ve already spent work for you is to put it to the test. Try living on what you have for a month and not spending any money outside of what you are required to pay for your monthly set expenses (housing, utilities, fuel, etc.)
It can be fascinating to see how creative your family can be when given these circumstances. You may surprise yourself by how much fun life can be again when you are satisfied with what you have. You might even find yourself feeling grateful for it. And, your wallet, your life hours and future life self, will certainly thank you for it.
The Bottom Line
Once you take stock of all you already have, you can begin to appreciate what really matters. The things we want in our life, pale in comparison to the people we need.
By spending less time taking care of things, we can spend more time with the people who really matter – our family and friends. And, as a side benefit, it also means more time for you to practice some self-care.
“Your Money or Your Life” – Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
“31 Days of Living Well Spending Less” – Ruth Soukup
The books above should also be in your library for free, if you want to check them out. Also, if you want to try a no spend month, check out “Living Well Spending Less” for more information.