Many people view shopping for what are typically classed as “non-essential” items as frivolous or wasteful. And in many instances, they would be right. But when you take the time to really understand what is important to you, and what brings you pleasure, you can shift your mindset. Developing a healthier outlook on your expenditure is an important step in your financial journey as you learn to align your spending with your intentions for life.
How many items of clothing - no matter their price - do you have hanging in your wardrobe that never get worn? These are the kind of things that drain your finances, and also act as negative energy in your financial life. They do not serve you well or bring you joy – their very presence, hanging there jauntily with the tags still attached – can trigger feelings of financial guilt or shame.
On the flipside, how many things do you own that you would absolutely be lost without? They could be cheap or expensive – the cost is not the point here. It’s about building an awareness around the kind of accumulation that brings real value to your life.
The Difference Between Price and Value
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffet
“How much does it cost?” – Me, like all the time.
It is so important to ask this question. We don’t ask money questions often enough. But I am going to tell you something very important here that may come as a big surprise: sometimes it is the wrong question.
I have had to learn this over and over again. I have a tendency to buy things on sale, regardless of whether I really need it. Why? Because I love a deal. I have a drawer full of untouched, unloved make-up I bought on sale to prove this. You see – even us financial advisors are not immune to the lure of a good markdown!
Conversely, many luxury brands prey upon people who have lots of money with the hope they can use “cost” or “price” as a sort of compass to guide them to the good life. A Rolex makes you successful. A family Viking cruise makes you special. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to rewire your heart. Most of us know this, but still succumb. Why? Because we are human.
Give Yourself Permission to Want Things
Here is what I think: You know your life. You know what you value most and the personal history that drives you. Do you align your spending with what you value in life? Once you’ve got a sense of what your values really are, you’ll know what truly makes you happy. So the next question to ask yourself is whether spending that money is going to add positively to your life, to your values and your goals.
This is how you become truly wealthy. How much does it cost then ceases to be the question you ask. Is this outlay of money actually going to enhance your quality of life, or the quality of life of your loved ones? Do you really need to make that purchase, or are you doing it out of habit? Does that particular purchase make your life more fulfilling, or make the people you care about feel loved?
You can buy something that on the surface seems over (or under) priced, but to you, it is totally worth it.
How to Align Your Spending with Your Intentions
Here is a trick: I want you to think about your favorite purchase from the last month. From the last three years. From the last five years. Here are mine:
- One month: Iced coffee concentrate
- Three years: A ticket to Greece
- Five years: Great running shoes
Let me confess, I would have paid far more than I actually did for each of these purchases, and one had a pretty high relative price to begin with (on the other hand, one was only $8 from the amazing Three Story Coffee in Columbia).
What do you really love to spend your money on? Shoes? What if I gave you permission to triple the amount you spend on shoes? If you have just $50 to spend, you might think, ‘Wow I can buy three pairs of shoes for the cost of just one of the kind I really, really want’. This is how I think most of the time.
But if running is what you love, saying yes to a pricier item with no guilt attached is actually the right thing to say yes to. My running shoes are not cheap, but the miles I have run in them (and the connection I have with the friends I run with) are priceless. They have had a wonderful side effect of making me healthier, too.
Feel Good About Spending with Intention
Just bringing this kind of conscious decision-making to your financial life can have untold positive consequences. Not only will you find that you have more money available for the things that really matter, but you won’t have that listless sense of dissatisfaction, knowing that you’ve spent money on things you didn’t need, and in truth, didn’t really want.
Make purchases that improve your life, even if it costs more than “other people” think is reasonable. Ask instead: What is it costing me because I don’t put my money where my values are? Focus on your values, not what others perceive as valuable. It’s just that simple.
If you’d like to talk shopping with a friendly ear, and learn how you can spend your money with confidence and purpose, I’d welcome the opportunity to chat. Schedule some time on my calendar for a complimentary discovery meeting and let’s dig into the things that bring you true happiness.