If you’ve been following any of our past blog posts, you know that one of KLS Financial Services’ major goals is to help provide consumers with a solid sense of financial literacy. As someone who works in the collections industry, and as someone with a keen interest in economics and money management, I tend to read quite a lot of articles about personal financial strategy and development. Whether you’re learning how to clean up your credit or save for your upcoming retirement, the common theme of just about every single one of these articles centers around exercising balance and moderation through monetary practices. In this post, however, I’d like to take us in a bit of a different direction – more accurately, I’d like to flip all of my former financial advice on its head and give you some pointers on how to spend more of your money.
Sound crazy? Rest assured, I haven’t completely lost my mind! After reading our guest blogger Kim Stone’s post about finding your inner ikigai, I immediately began to think about those of us who happen to have a somewhat unconventionally unhealthy relationship with money. If I might snag a quote from her original piece: “All things that bring happiness are not necessarily financial. How many people do you know that have their finances in order but their lives are a disaster? How many have tons of money in the bank, but they hate their job, hate their life partners, complain all the time, and do not seem to have a purposeful meaning to their life?” Truly, if you take to the financial side of the internet, you will immediately discover a wealth (no pun intended) of readily available advice on how to save and budget, but chances are, you’ll be hard pressed to find even half as many articles geared towards the subsection of the population that fears spending, much less any articles that touch upon the highly detrimental emotional and mental ramifications stemming from a life of financial decisions governed by fear.
While it goes without saying that frivolous, reckless spending habits can have a disastrous impact on your financial state, in the end, anxiously hoarding all of your money for a potential doomsday scenario is certainly no healthier. Growing up in a financially conservative Jewish household may have instilled in me plenty of highly useful money management skills, but it also left me with the extremely difficult to shake mindset that at any given moment, the gutter looms precariously closely – regardless of how successful you may presently be. A series of unexpected financial setbacks in my early adult years only served to reinforce these beliefs, and it wasn’t until very recently that I was able to begin breaking my old toxic habits. If you exhibit any of the following characteristics, it may be time to take a few steps back and reexamine your relationship to money:
-Do you feel guilt, shame, or anxiety when spending money on yourself, even for necessities such as food or medication?
-Are your savings geared towards a specific goal (i.e, a special family vacation, your child’s college fund, or simply a comfortable cushion for a future medical or veterinary bill)? Or do you merely stockpile your earnings out of unwarranted fear of financial collapse?
-Does your reluctance to spend money diminish the quality of your daily life or cut down on the number of enjoyable activities you might otherwise partake in?
-Do you feel as though you will have never truly saved enough, regardless of how large your savings account may be?
-Have the people in your life expressed concern over your extreme aversion to relinquishing any money?
It can be very hard to admit that you have a hindering, controlling attitude towards money, and harder still to coax yourself out of long-ingrained cautionary habits. I would give the same advice to those who are learning financial relaxation as I would to those who are beginning to build their savings for the first time – start small. Allow yourself one or two impulse buys during an otherwise practical shopping excursion, treat yourself to your favorite bottle of wine on Friday, or grab dinner with a friend. Slowly but surely, reinforce the idea that you are worthy of little expenditures – don’t sacrifice your enjoyment and purpose in life for a future that may never come. Of course, financial attentiveness and intuition will always be important, but at the end of the day, money truly is not everything. Your family, your friendships, and the unique life experiences you create for yourself will ultimately be the most precious possessions you could ever hope to gain. And don’t forget – if you do happen to let a bill or two slip through the cracks, KLS will always be here to help!