Relephant bonus: “How Shaq spent $1 Million in one day.”
I recently had to look over my credit card statements from last year, one purchase at a time.
It’s amazing how much pain and suffering one’s experiences with money bring back. I, for one, was blown away by my own ignorance and denial.
I’m sure that many of you are very good at dealing with money. My own biological father, for example, is a king of doing only what’s necessary with the means that he has, therefore creating a much more stable affair. I, on the other hand, have a much more emotional roller coaster kind of relationship with money and it has been taking all of my adult life (and probably more) to figure it out.
The world is full of financial advice and yet somehow the same world is also full of those of us who haven’t quite figured it out. Furthermore, those who claim to have succeeded are also admitting that maybe there are lots of more to learn.
It seems that no one has quite conquered this beast called money.
I read many books and blogs, signed up for courses and met with experts, but I still couldn’t follow complicated rules and statistics. Any advice needed to be super simple for me to stick to it for more than a month.
Here are my five simple realizations about my karmic nemesis—no, I mean, karmic friend called money.
1. Remember that what’s spent is spent.
There’s no need to cry over it. I bet most of you can find a dignified reason why you spent that money. So it’s okay. You made a choice about that purchase, so enjoy it. Cherish it. Don’t regret your decision to spend that money and discard the value of what you purchased.
Appreciate it—hopefully for a long time.
2. Keep a mental health fund.
Just 10 percent of every cheque should go to that cookie jar or a yogurt container or whatever you have. You will not spend this money, ever. This is just for your mental health.
Should anything happen, the idea is to comfort yourself that at least you have this. Stick to ten percent. If you get more ambitious and try to save more, it will overwhelm you and it will not last.
Never, ever, under any circumstances spend this money.
3. Freeze your credit cards in a bag in the freezer.
It reflects badly on your credit scores if you cancel them. If you ever need a loan, it’s nice to have that credit history to show that you can pay it back or you have been paying it back. In this day of age, it’s hard to purchase everything with just cold cash. So keep them but put them somewhere you have a hard time getting at.
Don’t set up automatic payments. Don’t do anything automatic. Go back to the good ol’ manual operation so it’s that much more work for you.
4. Choose life values, not monetary values.
Money lets you do things you couldn’t do sometimes, but it’s not the ultimate goal. I used to say I don’t need a car, an apartment downtown or a vitamix. Yet, I kept buying things. If it was not the vitamix, it was the $50 essential oil. If it wasn’t Mexico, I needed to go to California, you know, for a yoga training.
In fact, I could not stop buying things. Then I realised that it’s in the priorities.
I currently live in a place where there is barely 3G network, run out of water (not drinkable either) for a day or two at a time every two weeks for no reason, and pizza is a thing of luxury.
Let me tell you how exciting it is to find a blueberry muffin. I have to travel two hours to get these and they are definitely worth it!
I’m not suggesting to everyone that you move to a remote area without access to simple things. What I am trying to say is that it depends on what you choose to prioritize. Living in a different culture, meeting people from around the world with different accents and languages every day, where the daily sightings of marine life are easily possible within a five minute walk and watch the stars over a volcano from my hammock every night is totally tradable to me with all the fancy things I used to have.
But then again, that may not be your thing. You have to consider the life values, not the monetary values.
5. Be generous.
It may be slightly egotistical, but it’s still helpful for me: when I’m generous with money, I feel richer. When I get to spend a generous amount of money for any sort of art forms or services, I feel much fuller inside.
I noticed especially in parts of the world where bargain is a normal customary. If I have to bargain to get something, I don’t necessarily appreciate fully what I purchased. I usually get bored with it in a few days. I’m also well aware of the nature of my professional career as a yoga teacher.
People have no idea how much money we spend for our often never-ending, multiple life times education and surprisingly, fellow yoga teachers are often the stingiest people. Whatever the yoga class they are teaching, if I happen to go, I know what goes behind the scenes of that 1.5hour class. I don’t necessarily agree with paying $30/class to a giant chain store yoga studio but an independent or grassroots yoga studio or teachers with average price, I am quite happy to pay.
Anyway, when was the last time I could completely let go and be led? Not often enough and that itself is worth it to me. So be generous according to your own personal rules but I suggest showing sufficient respect to fellow workers in your field.
So there you have it. Clearly this is not the exclusive list but I had to start somewhere and I hope you find them useful, too.
Author: Tomomi Kojima
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Flickr/401(K) 2012
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