Growing up, I observed all sorts of people’s financial habits – and still do! I’m always curious about what makes people spend on this and not on that and how they invest (or don’t) and in what. But the household I observed most was my own of course! I saw my mum and dad with vastly different attitudes towards money who came from backgrounds that were worlds apart.
My dad was never embarrassed or shy to talk about anything money-related. This was super rare, I know. For most people, the mere mention of the word money makes them squirm in their seats. So much so that my dad’s friends probably thought he was nuts telling his kids about his mortgage (I was probably 10yo at the time) but he always told us that knowing all that will help us when I grow up.
The more I understood, the better off I’d be. It doesn’t make sense to have kids that have zero understanding of this stuff. When they’re all grown-up they’ll have big issues since money is all around us and what makes the world go round. Understand how money works and it will work for you. If not, you’ll forever be working for it. (Read here 5 simple habits that can upgrade your finances in less than 1 year.)
My dad was my teacher
I’m super grateful that my dad gave me the financial ins and outs rather than a credit card like some of my friends had at high school! But growing up and being conscious of this, on my own accord, investing as much as I can into the stock market (and start-ups – read here how that might have been a mistake, or not!) I sometimes find it hard to switch off.
Maybe you can relate to this or maybe you think I’m mad but when I buy something whether it’s a pair of sneakers (yup, I now own 3 pairs of white-ish sneakers since nothing stays white forever right!) the feeling of spending lingers for a while that I even question whether I should’ve bought it to begin with. Sounds silly, I know. But old habits die hard.
Spending makes me squirm sometimes. I wish I could just swipe my card left right and centre and not bat an eyelid. But then I wouldn’t be Me. My mum’s like that. She adores spending and doesn’t think twice. Obviously that’s the other end of the spectrum but she’s definitely encouraging me to be more like her! Her fam was tight growing up and when she was newlywed her and my dad were super careful with money so that they could get on the property ladder.
Now she can safely afford to spend. She tells me she wants to enjoy life on a daily basis and not wait till she’s 80 to buy stuff. Fair enough mum! Read here why if you can’t spend now, you’ll never be able to and why it’s a bigger problem than you think.
I find it hard to switch off and to not value each £1 of purchases in future value! Say I spend £1000 on stuff (a LOT of stuff since I don’t remember the last time I spent £1k in a go apart from my Mac I’m typing on now) I’ll think how much that can grow to in 10, 20 years time. I can’t shake the feeling, much as I try.
It’s hard for me to splash out but here are 3 things I tell myself on a regular basis to help me spend mindfully and enjoy more of my money – and hopefully they can help you too!
#1 It’ll be sweeter now than later
I remind myself that spending now will give me 10x more enjoyment that it will in 10 years down the line. I know my spending will be so much more fun and meaningful now because there’s simply a lot more sacrifice and struggle that goes into my purchases now than later on, when my paycheck will hopefully be a lil’ fatter!
I tell this to myself whenever I feel on the edge about a purchase. Which happens too often! Read here why the joy of spending is greatest when you can least afford it. The paradox that if you understand will make you think so much differently about how you buy.
I hope to finally drive and when I do I might buy myself a car. You only live once and something like your first car you aren’t bound to ever forget. Live a little and don’t be so hard on yourself (talking to myself here, obvs).
#2 Money is for spending with, not staring at!
This might sound like a daft question but what is money really there for? To spend! Read here why you should put more effort into what you spend, after all that’s what your money’s really there for right?! Don’t just stare at it; learn to enjoy it! We work hard for our money and we put it to work even harder (in the stock markets) but what’s the point of all that if we don’t even get to enjoy the juice of the squeeze?
Something to be mindful of as you work towards your next money milestone is to make sure you actually get to enjoy some of that money.
When people are at the end of their lives, I guarantee you they won’t be saying “I wish I’d have spent less”. Nah. Their words will most likely be something along the lines of “I wish I’d have spent more on my kids and grandkids”.
Funnily enough, the one thing I can spend on like no tomorrow is tech. I literally don’t bat an eyelid. Maybe that’s because I’m under Apple’s consumerist spell or maybe it’s because I use this stuff all the time that it doesn’t feel excessive even though I bet many of them are! My friend has the Apple headphones and I was honestly this close to bagging a pair but soon talked myself out of it as it seemed a little overboard – even for me!
What’s something you enjoy spending on? Find it and spend on that area while saving in others. That way you get to enjoy more of the things you love in an intentional way while saving and investing for your future. It’s a healthy balance and one that works wonders.
#3 If I can’t do it now I’ll never be able to
Do you know what financial planners find the hardest? Getting their clients to spend their money during retirement!
I know this sounds bonkers but hear me out. If your entire adult life was spent being frugal; spending, investing and not spending all too much, do you think you’ll suddenly be able to splash out during your golden years?
Spending is a muscle. You have to build it. It’s not a light switch that you can simply turn on/off. It’s a way of life. And if you’ve worked so hard for your goal (aka retirement), the saddest thing is when you don’t even realise you’ve hit it.
That’s just as bad as not reaching your goal to begin with.
So whether you find it hard to spend or whether you spend too much, carefully curate your purchases so that it brings you maximum joy.
That’s what spending is truly all about.
Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment