Note: This is Part Two in my My Money Rules series.
Once upon a time, I was a spendthrift. I bought things to fill a void, to make up for loneliness. I was a recent college grad, and everything was in flux. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I had started my first “real” job, my friends had moved away and I needed to make new ones. I clung to things as a way of anchoring myself. The things I owned (and wore) gave me momentary comfort at a time when I didn’t know who I was supposed to be. I spent more than I earned, and ended up in debt.
I’d been buying things in an attempt to make me fit in with whoever I thought I was supposed to be. But somewhere along the way, I started to become comfortable in my own skin. As I grew more comfortable with myself, I started to let who I truly am – and what I truly value – determine how I spend my money.
So much advice about financial management focuses on budgeting and denying yourself pleasure. I’ve taken a different tactic – yes, I know how much I need to make each month to pay my bills and my taxes and put something aside for an emergency. But it’s important that I not be stingy with the things I’m passionate about so I save a portion of what’s left over, and then spend a large amount of the remainder on things and experiences that are in line with my values.
So, what do I truly value?
My creative life.
My art is my passion. I buy art supplies. I take classes. I invested in creating a studio in my home. I make less money consulting part-time than working full-time so that I can spend more time on my art..
Aesthetics and quality.
I like beautiful, well-made things. I buy handmade. I buy more expensive items that will last, and I shop at resale and secondhand stores for most everything else. I avoid chains that entice me to buy throwaway items (you know what stores I’m talking about). I live in a beautiful apartment in a great neighborhood.
I cook almost all my own meals. I shop at the farmers’ market. I pay more for a doctor who practices holistic and traditional medicine. I (finally) have health insurance. I don’t eat fast food (except for the occasional Sausage McMuffin).
Freedom to take on the work I want to take on. Freedom to set my own schedule, take a month off from client work (or from printing) to travel or visit my family. Freedom to be focused and present when I spend time with my family, friends, and dog. Right now, freedom from a mortgage.
A disclaimer: I don’t have money to do or buy everything I want. But I rarely feel deprived. What I do have aligns so closely with who I am that I feel pretty darned rich a lot of the time.
And you? What do you value? How do you affirm this?