My favourite phrase in life use to be, “I can’t afford it.” It did not matter what the request was or how much I would have enjoyed it, I was conditioned to just blurt out, “I can’t afford it.” It was kind of a knee jerk reaction, someone would invite me on a trip, and I would just say, “I can’t afford it.” Regardless of whether or not I could afford whatever was being presented to me.
This continued for years, even for things I could afford. I would refuse certain things and justify my choice because, ‘It just wasn’t in the budget.’ This was my problem, I was frugal, but I am working on enjoying the money I earn more now. This can seem like a really nice problem to have, but for some people, spending money on themselves can be really difficult, and I encourage you to work on this, if you have a similar issue.
On the other hand….there are a lot of people on the other side of this fence. As I am trying to become more comfortable spending money on things I enjoy, there are many people who are not able to do the things they would like to because they do not spend the money they do earn wisely. They burn away their hard earned cash on impulsive wants or by not being in control of their life, so unexpected costs, fees and bills crop up for them, seemingly out of nowhere.
We all have enough money to live a fun, fulfilling, exciting life, but many of us are haphazardly spending money, rather than strategically. If you spend your money wisely, you will be able to live the life you want, but not all at once and not like Beyonce.
Some (difficult) thoughts to consider:
- Have you ever sat down and actually tracked where you spend your money for a month? By tracking, I mean each transaction, cash withdrawal, credit card expense and placing it on a line item in an excel sheet. This process removes the, ‘I spend about one hundred dollars on eating out a month’ and makes you stare at the harsh reality that you spent $359 on eating out this month and there is two weeks left of the month.
- How much money are you spending on your mortgage or rent? If you are spending more than 35% of your income on where you live, you are living to pay for your accommodations, which is terribly stressful.
- Do you have a big, beautiful home that everyone gushes over when they come over and it makes you feel wonderful? Are you also the same person who fights with their partner about the mortgage payment or expenses at least once a month? Is the big ass house really worth it? From where I am sitting….it is not.
- How much money are you spending on your car payment? 10% of your income should go towards your car payment.
- Are you driving a super cool car because you are a super cool person who is spending forty percent of their super cool income paying for that cool car? You are not cool; sell the car and decrease the stress.
- Are your car payments coming to an end? Do not go out and buy a new car; the end of the car payment schedule is not an indicator that your car is ready to be traded in, it is simply a blessing — you are one bill less a month!
- What do you wish you had money for, but seemingly never are able to do because you are too broke? If you wish you could travel more or have more money for the hobbies you love, ask yourself where your paycheck is going. If a majority of your paycheck is going to take-out because you are so stressed from your job that you don’t have time to cook, you have a problem.
- Do you save some of your paycheck? Don’t lie…Did you know you are suppose to be saving 20% of your income for savings? Are you? We all should be.
- What would you do if you had to shell out $5,000 for an emergency right now? How would that impact your life? Seriously think about it and if the answer is that you would pull that money from a line of credit or borrow it from a family member, you need to re-evaluate your life choices.
If there is one thing I have learnt in life, is that I sure as hell don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. I genuinely don’t care if you house is bigger than mine, if you car is newer than mine and if your jacket is fancier than mine. I couldn’t care less if you go on a cruise every year, get your nails done once a week, or have a housekeeper 24/7. Your life is not my life and my life is not your life; it is not a competition.
One thing that I do know is that I sleep very well at night because I live within my financial means. I can travel. I can afford to buy things I want (fairly) easily. My mortgage does not keep me up at night, whispering sweet stresses into my ear. I don’t have a car payment (thank God, they’re the worst) and I do not plan on accruing a new one anytime soon. I don’t have debt. I spend money, but I spend money that I already have earned.
I also am not trying to emulate someone else’s life. I am living my life, within the financial parameters of my current situation.
I have had more than one job for most of my life. Why? Because I like certain things or situations or events which cost money, so I have to earn that money before I spend it.
Live realistically, and maybe my mantra of, ‘I can’t afford it,’ is not the sexiest thing you have heard today, but it is a pretty good mantra to go by. Slow down; you will buy and accumulate everything you want, in good time, but what I hope is that when the time comes, that all those wants and wishes are attainable, you will realize how invaluable they are.
Do not stress yourself out. Learn to say no. Learn to have financial boundaries. Learn to love living within your fiscal means and you will sleep like a baby.
Depending on which side of the spectrum you are on, you should adjust. If you are too frugal and not living a life you would enjoy, because the idea of spending money hurts your stomach — fix it. Challenge yourself to spend your hard earned money on things which make you happy and do not apologize to anyone for it! Buy that bag! Go to that fancy dinner! Book that international trip!
Now….if you are on the other side of the spectrum…the advice is not as fun. Make an appointment with a financial planner and get your finances under control. Stop using credit cards and lines of credit, mentally praying that you win the lottery before bankruptcy. Be strict and create a budget to get yourself out of the financial pithole. There will always be an excuses as to why next month would be a better time to start…do not avoid the inevitable because the longer you ignore it, the more it grows and the longer it will stay and cause stress in your life.