“Come on. We’re going out tonight. You and Rebecca meet us at Dave & Buster’s. We’ll be there at seven.”
You’re at a loss: You don’t want to admit you’ve blown your budget for this month and have no play money to go out with. “Uh, Becca’s not feeling well,” you say. This is immediately followed by that awful feeling of lying to your best friend, and the resentment of not being able to go and have a blast.
We’re always worried about money.
Will we have enough of it when we retire? What about our kids? I want that new Samsung watch that lets you check email. But getting it now means I’ll have to use the credit card. Do I want to do that?
We want to buy, save, and have money left to do what we want. But we rarely can — at least not without guilt or worry.
It’s a pain. We get tired of obsessing. It’s the topic of most marital discord, and it can even rip marriages apart. That’s how powerful our thoughts on money can be.
And if there isn’t enough, well, that’s salt in the wound. We start feeling resentful. Sometimes we’ll spend anyway, knowing we shouldn’t. Pile guilt on resentment, and you’ve got a recipe for mental and physical disaster.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Imagine living a life where money doesn’t haunt your every decision. Imagine not feeling the pain of having to postpone a purchase. Imagine conversations with your spouse that don’t revolve around dollar signs.
How to Live an Obsession-Free Life
You can have a life free of monetary obsession. But it takes time, effort, and patience — especially in the beginning. Here are five steps to get you started:
1. Stop comparing yourself to others
Resentment comes from not getting what you want or not having what your friends do. If you stop comparing yourself to people in commercials, or people that you know, you’ll have an easier time becoming content.
2. Be happy with what you have
Once you’ve decided to stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll find your zen. You’ll feel happy with what you have and stop lusting after what you don’t. You can look for the happiness in staying home and watching a flick with the family, or going for a picnic on a beautiful Saturday afternoon — rather than hitting that expensive dockside restaurant downtown.
3. Look long
Now that you know what you have is enough to keep you happy, taking a long look at your distant goals will be easier. You’ll no longer view your budget as punishment, but as a means to freedom. Living on a budget will become normal, and not something torturous that’s always taunting your brain.
4. Let yourself splurge
If you’re keeping yourself in budget prison, you’ll eventually want to rebel. Keep a budget, but allow yourself a few calculated freedoms — even if it’s only fifty bucks a month. It’s a great way to reward yourself for being good, and it’ll help to keep you from feeling imprisoned.
5. Only look at your finances once a month
Give your progress a monthly glance to feel your distant goal growing closer. Don’t do it more than that, as daily looks encourage obsession. And if you’re using an easy budget, like the envelop/cash method, there’s no need to worry. Once a month is plenty.
Living a life that says you’re not good enough unless you have the “right” gadgets, or not being happy with the present, sets us up for disappointment. Learn to live for the moment. Not only will you feel better about your financial situation; you’ll feel better about your life.
Do you obsess about money? What have you done to change it?