If your finances are not stressing you out, you can freely mute this and the next emails. However, I encourage you to stay as I think you’ll learn something new anyways.
Before we start, I’ll sum up yesterday’s email. No relaxation technique will help you in the long term with your financial situation. The only thing that can remove the stressor is to fix the cause, aka your debt. And, that is almost more important, you have control over that. You are not a victim, you have control, and you can change anything for the better.
Now, let’s move on, but instead of telling you what to do, I’ll show you how I deal with it. And no, that is not a story about how I went into thousands of dollars of debt and came back as a millionaire as most of these shitty stories go. Between us, they are there for selling you easy money making shit anyways. And sorry, for the shit word, but I get upset by these schemes.
Nope, my life went differently as my parents taught me one thing regarding finances. And I simply adhered to it.
You can not spend money you do not have.
Sounds easy, and yet many fail at this point. It seems easy, but it is not easy to do. There are so many distractions and temptations out there to spend money. And when you see all the other kids around spending more money than your monthly allowance, it gets even harder.
Yet, I had to accept it, and I did. My monthly allowance wasn’t going to rise, and printing money was out of the question. So, there was a limit. Today I am glad that it was there.
So, what happened when I wanted something, I had to save for it to buy it. And when I saved up enough money, I often did not buy the thing anymore. Because two things happened.
First, my desire to own it was gone, and thus my willingness to pay for it.
Second, as I had to save for weeks or months, I wasn’t eager to spend it anyways. My mind kicked in debating if I really want to spend this hard-earned money for an action figure or whatever.
When I started to deliver newspapers, my behavior got even more stricken. Now I had worked for the money. I loaded my bag, walked a long time, and put papers in mailboxes. All with a deadline. Once I got the papers, I had to deliver them. There was no “I am not in the mood of doing it now” or things like that.
And with that came the second thing I learned:
Is the thing I want to buy really worth it to me that I want to spend the money?
Most of the time, it was a definite no. And sometimes I stood awhile in a store and thinking about it. Like I still remember as I was in a bookstore and found some programming books on sale and was still agonize if I should buy them or not. Today, I laugh about that, but it also taught me to build up my impulse control. Cutting off this shopping impulse and impulse buy and then consciously deciding what to do.
Impulse buys are deadly to your finances and your storage space and your mental health.
You’ll regret them, and with each impulse buy, your regrets will grow… I know I did.
Which brings me to my last tip for today.
Why do I want to buy it anyway?
Do I want to buy it because I just saw it and it is cool? Or am I sad and want to lift up my mood by purchase something? Do I want it because my neighbors got it? And plenty of other questions. Many times it is just mood-related, and you want to treat yourself or lift yourself up. Wrong reasons to buy anything.
The other major downer is just buying anything because your peers, friends, and family or the Johnses next door got it. No, no, no. Never do that.
It takes practice and self-observation to tackle this question. I’ve been consciously observing myself over 2 decades now, and in recent years I could narrow it down to a simple ruleset for myself. 1. Don’t buy on the first impulse. Walk away first. 2. Buy only when it’s a “Yeah, great stuff I want it.” Regardless of what it is and if you need it or not. Need a new pair of jeans? Only buy the great pair, none of the other ok-ones. Want this LEGO mini-figure? When it sparks joy and delights you and does not violate the other rules, buy it and move on. 3. Never spend more than you have. Got 3000$ in the bank, don’t buy a car for 10k. Got 20$ left in the pockets; don’t go out for diner. 4. Do not regret any purchase if they passed the previous rules. Life is short enough. Don’t waste it with regrets. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
Does it always work for me? Nope. Sometimes I am a bit off, sometimes not. The only rule I do not break is ” Never spend more than you have,” and IMHO nobody should break. But we are human, and this still can happen. So, next time we’ll see what you can do once you fell into the debt trap.