After 20 years of being a financial advisor, there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty: Money is emotional. We love it. We hate it. We feel guilty about having too much or too little. We worry what others will think about our purchases. Will they agree with them and congratulate us for being a savvy shopper? Or will they sneer at us and accuse of being frivolous or unwise? And that my friends, is part of the problem. You need to stop worrying about what others think and instead worry about what you want.
My first money lessons with the girls revolved around setting save, spend and share goals. I wanted the girls to set goals so they had something tangible to work towards achieving and something to compare against when they found other things they wanted.
But goals alone are not enough. Tied into setting goals is knowing what makes YOUR heart happy. Not my heart. Not your BFF’s heart. Or the Joneses heart. Your heart.
Most of us are aware of the dangers of trying to keep up with those mythical Joneses. What we don’t often think about is the danger of putting too high of a value on the opinion of those we respect, including personal finance bloggers.
I’ve seen PF bloggers who are hesitant to share things they want or bought out of fear of being ridiculed because their purchase might break some sort of unwritten PF code. They are worried about the judgement their readers and fellow PF bloggers might rain down on them, so they immediately adopt an apologetic attitude for even daring to want something.
Maybe even something somewhat frivolous or showy.
You can’t stop people from making judgments nor stop finding things you want. It’s human nature. What you need to focus on is what makes YOUR heart happy. And while it may not be something that I might choose to spend my money on, so what. It’s your money and you get to choose how to use it.
I suggest you use it on the things that make you happy.
Goal alignment is critical to achieving them. So let’s take a few minutes to ensure your goals are for you and not to please or impress others.
You may noticed I used the word authentic, which is intentional. Too often I’ve seen people set goals based on what is expected or commonplace, rather than what they truly want. Many times they don’t even realize they did this. I can tell you it’s very hard to achieve goals you really don’t care about (just ask Tanya). Tune out everyone else and figure out what you want.
Do you know what makes your heart happy? This may seem like a strange question, but what I find is most people really don’t. What makes them happy is whatever makes others happy. You need to figure out what really brings joy into your life, long-term. Not a momentary high you might achieve from an impulse buy. But what would make you do a happy dance, high-five or pat yourself on the back over and over again? If your goal doesn’t make your heart happy, you need to question whether you set the right goal. Are you setting your sights too high or low? Or are you still subconsciously worried about what others might think of your dream to buy a brand new car, or take a 3-month European vacation or start a new business? Remember, your goals should make YOUR heart happy, not mine.
We all have different goals. And even on similar goals, such as retirement, our vision is uniquely our own. Some want to retire quite young while others want to work into the 70’s. Someone who wishes to retire in their 30’s may live a frugal life that may seem too extreme for someone who wishes to retire later in life. Or vice versa. You may be willing to forgo some luxuries today if it means early retirement that others are not. Neither goal is better than the other. Both are great goals for the right individuals. Don’t be ashamed of your goals or the things you want, nor should you judge others harshly for having different goals. Celebrate the fact that you both know what you want, however different they may be, then focus on achieving your own goals.
The bottom line is you shouldn’t be ashamed of the things you want. Just be sure the things you choose to spend your hard-earned money on are the things you truly want and make your heart happy. You want them for your pleasure and not to prove you’re better than others. And, of course, wait until you can afford them without creating debt. Trust me, if it’s something that really makes your heart happy–it’s worth saving to buy it outright.
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