This post is a participant in the Financial Literacy Awareness Carnival hosted by The Heavy Purse
I feel like I’ve done it all. I’ve read financial books; entered contests; clipped grocery coupons; and shopped loyalty points (Airmiles). I tracked expenses and cut costs. I’ve bartered stuff on Kijiji and sold stuff on Ebay. I made my budget and then remade my budget. And then did it again. And again.
Some things didn’t work for me and some things did. At the end of the day, I learned a lot and made a lot of important changes.
But my most important learning had nothing to do with money. And maybe that’s been the most surprising part of it. Now this isn’t the place where I start waxing lyrical about the colours of a sunset or about the pure joy found in a child’s smile but….
Dance in the rain quotes aside, there’s something to be said about focusing on the important stuff. Throughout my life, there’s always been urgency with my spending. It’s a grasping, breathy feeling that pushes and pulls at me to buy now. Now. NOW. Like if I don’t carpe diem (or YOLO, if you’re a Millenial) right this instant, I’m going to miss out on something and will never have this opportunity again.
I have touched on this issue before but I’ve never really put it together within the context of my spending. I always thought I just needed more discipline/more willpower/more boundaries/more control to succeed at managing my money. The problem with needing more is that it always leaves you feeling less.
In the last few months, I started doing things differently. I became a vegetarian. I cut out caffeine. And I avoid deep-fried foods (most of the time). I’ve mentioned before that I have depression and I have to take medication to help me manage the symptoms.
One of the upsides of removing caffeine from my diet was being able to halve my prescription for sleeping. I haven’t been on this low a dose since I first started taking it three years ago. So, eating well has given me more of the right kind of energy – Yay life! – and cutting caffeine has taken away some of the wrong kind of energy – Boo, hiss anxiety.
I got rid of my gym membership because I hate the treadmill and other assorted torture machines – who likes running and going nowhere? I started walking my dog because I like it. I felt like it so I did it. No more and no less.
I’ll eventually ramp up to other more demanding activities but for now, I’m happy doing what I’m doing. What’s the best part? I’m sidestepping that whole I’m-paying-for-it/I-hate-they-gym/I-don’t-use-it/I-feel-so guilty business that came with having the stupid membership. It’s just way less work than trying to force myself to do something I really, really don’t want to do.
Another thing? I love travelling but had a very narrow definition of what that looked like – think a different continent. I always thought it was something other people got to do but not me and keeping my expectations unrealistic reinforced this belief for me. To say the least, that wasn’t helpful so I revamped.
This year I have plans for camping in Western Canada (BC) and Yellowstone Park and going to New Orleans for the FinCon ’14 Conference. It is deceptively simple but making those plans for myself and family have really helped me build a better outlook for myself. I feel more hopeful and look forward to next week/next month/next year.
So what does this have to do with my big Aha! money moment? As it turns out, everything.
That breathy, grasping feeling I mentioned earlier is pretty much gone. It’s like a weight has been lifted and I have the freedom to make reasonable choices about my money. By putting myself first, I’m able to put my money first.
Do it for yourself and the rest will fall into place.