Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When Money Finds Purpose

I am feeling really good about this no shopping thing. Most of the time.

I am human.

It is not that the desire to buy has completely gone away. I still want things but the decision to not buy has been made infinitely easier. I was spending so much time thinking of things that could make my life simpler but in reality, it was a huge waste of my mental energy. 

But still, it is hard not to buy things. I have come to realize how often and how easy it is to make up a reason for why we need something. A pursuit of a magical, easier, more convenient life. One that we see in the movies and want our pictures to project. One that projects our happiest dreams. 

But in reality, if I can't look around and see the magic around already, then that pursuit will never end. 

With all that said, the most staggering part of this challenge has been realizing how much money I was misusing. I had imagined that comparing December to January would result in a fair amount of money saved, but I was WAY off. I was spending three times the amount I thought.

I looked over the records and it was amazing to see little things here, a small purchase there all totally benign and insignificant but adding up to excess and wasted opportunities. I was spending money on things I like instead of investing in things that I love.

In those numbers I saw time lost. How much money that could have paid off student loans, money that could have been saved up for a down payment, money that could have been spent on a family trip. My family is the most precious thing in my life and in an effort to get through the day to day with treats or new clothes, I was neglecting a long-term perspective. I want more for my family than nice clothes. I want to spend money on things that will create memories and traditions, to develop a greater sense of unity and love.

Every now and then when I am grocery shopping I will pick up a chocolate milk or a lunchable for Max, to surprise him when he gets home from school. Lately, when I picked him up he would ask if there was a treat waiting at home. The answer is usually no (I do it once a month at most) and when Max hears that he sometimes gets upset. He wants a special treat everyday. I started to explain to Max that if we have special treats too often, they lose that special quality. They become expected and ordinary and sometimes that can be good, but sometimes if we have them less they stay more special and more exciting. He doesn't always like this response but the more I explain it, the more I feel it is true.
Just because I am not shopping, doesn't mean I am not buying things. It just means that what I buy is has either gone through my checklist of being completely necessary or obviously brings family together. Each time I go through the checklist, mental energy is spent better understanding what will actually bring gratitude into my life. Money spent pursuing goals is good. Buying a coat for my toddler is necessary. Getting a gift for a friend who is hurting is worthy. I get to decide what purpose money has in my life and the process of doing that has made each purchase more thoughtful and in reality more special.

In the end it is doing exactly what money should be doing, taking care of what what matters most to us. 

1 comment:

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