Money is a Tool

When I started my journey towards being debt free, it was because I realized that I am tired of working for ‘things’ that I often don’t enjoy and/or have the time to enjoy.

My husband works 10 hour days and many times it feels like we are passing ships, greeting each other as we go about our daily routines. We’ve had many conversations about what we want our life to look like, and none of them include killing ourselves working to be able to afford the latest new gadget or the biggest house. I like our current house, but it was never intended to be our ‘forever’ house.

I want to downsize our next house. I want to be able to pay less in bills so we can spend more on things we want – whether that is a vacation, books, a new hobby – whatever.

Our current house is a good fit for our life right now, because my children are still living at home. But once they move out, we will be getting a smaller house. My car is over 10 years old, but it is paid off, and that makes it worth more to me than a newer car with a payment. Would I prefer to drive a newer car? Sure, but I don’t want the ridiculous payment that would go with it.

I was watching a financial YouTuber and she made a comment that has stuck with me. “Money is a tool – not a measure of your self-worth.” I think I’ve gotten so used to thinking about what we’re “worth” that I forget money isn’t everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I know money is important. But it is important because having it enables me to do what I want. Experiences are always going to be more important to me than material things. Do you know what is important to you? Or are you killing yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses?

I wonder sometimes if the ‘instant gratification’ culture of today is why so many people are in debt. No one wants to spend time saving up for a purchase, they just want it right now. So what if they have to pay 25% interest on the credit card to buy it?

I’ve tried to instill in my kids the need to budget and save and to consider the future. For example, my oldest wants a new pet desperately. So I’ve had several conversations with her about how expensive pets can be. Our last pet needed back surgery ($3K) as well as the routine costs for things like shots and grooming. Even though it was HER dog, WE paid the bills. (She got him as a gift when she was little.)

While it would be nice to have a pet, I’m not ready to get another one right now. And since she still lives with me, she isn’t getting one either. Although she isn’t happy, she understands the reasoning. Her money right now is better spent saving up for when she is ready to move out and live on her own once she is done with college.

I think people would be happier if they thought of money as a tool to help them achieve their goals and desires, rather than money being a goal itself. After all, you can’t take it with you. 🙂

Facing My Fears

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Credit: Pixabay

It’s a strange time in the world right now.  However, it’s reminded me of something I forgot – your time on this earth is limited.  And no matter how much money you have, how many things you own – you can’t take it with you. I learned that lesson the hard way 10 years ago.

Since then, my focus has been on family and experiences.  Family and precious memories will keep you warmer and happier than any amounts of wealth ever will.  That’s not to say that money isn’t important – of course it is.  We all have physical needs – food, shelter, clothing.  But no amount of money can give you a hug when you’re feeling down, or make you laugh when you feel like crying.

Right now, we’re finding out just how much we as humans need that social interaction – even those of us who are introverts. 😀  I haven’t seen my sister in over a month – we talk almost every day, but we haven’t seen each other in that amount of time.  It’s crazy.

I’ve had a lot of time to think lately (probably too much), but I realized I lost sight of what is important to me.  We get so caught up in being ‘busy’ that we don’t realize we aren’t really getting anywhere or doing anything important.  We all have dreams and aspirations, but those get put on hold while life gets in the way.

I want to open my own business, but I’ve been letting my own fears hold me back.  What if it fails?  Am I crazy to launch a business in the middle of a global pandemic?  Should I save all our money instead of spending it on something that might not work?  Can I learn how to manage an online store and all the tech that goes along with it?

We want to move to Canada – our original goal was to retire there, but with my husband’s folks getting older, it seems prudent to move sooner rather than later.  That entails figuring out what my children want to do – do they want to move with us? What does that mean for their college education?  Can we all move together?  Will Canada even let us in?

Lots of questions, lots of fears, not a lot of answers.  But you shouldn’t let your fears hold you back from something you really want.  Will it be easy?  Probably not.  Does that mean it won’t be worth it?  Absolutely not.

So I am going to try and push through my own fears.  I’m going to work on getting that position I want at my current job.  I’m going to work on opening my online store.  And I’m going to work on figuring out how we can all move to Canada together.  There may be stepping stones along the way, and obstacles we have to face, but we can do it.

Fighting FOMO

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Credit: Pixabay

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ve probably heard of FOMO.  It’s a psychological quirk of humans that advertisers exploit to get us to buy ALL. THE. THINGS.

I mean, nobody wants to miss out on something cool, right?  Everyone wants the latest, greatest shiny.  How else can you assure yourself and everyone else that you’re cool and successful and beautiful?

I’ve never been one of those people.  Labels don’t matter to me, whether something works for me does.  Maybe it’s a side effect of growing up without much money.  My parents made sure my siblings and I always had what we needed, but there were lots of times when we didn’t get everything we wanted.

And guess what?  We survived.  I mean, sure, those fancy white Nikes with the red swoosh were awesome, but our Payless shoes did the job just as well.  Actually better, because once I could afford those white Nikes with my own money, I discovered the bright white didn’t last long and neither did the shoes.

Someone’s always trying to convince you that you need the latest this, that, or the other.  But I think people would be a lot happier if they would stop and think about what they actually need.  I mean, if you have unlimited funds and can buy whatever you want without worrying about the cost, then sure, avoid FOMO and buy all the things.

Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot of people (or any, really) who are in that situation.  Most of us only have a certain amount of money to spend on wants AND needs.  I want a new car, but I need water and electricity.  I want a new iPad Pro, but I need to pay tuition.  I want to travel to Europe, but I need a roof over my head.

I could let my FOMO rule my spending, but will I be any happier for doing so?  Probably not.  Don’t get me wrong, I certainly can fall victim to FOMO as easily as anyone.  Right now, my weakness is anything to do with planners.

Because I’m working on launching my sticker business, I’ve been trying out different things to see what I like, what works, and what doesn’t work for me.  So I currently have a basket full of stickers and other supplies I’ve purchased sitting around taking up space, because once I got them, I realized I either didn’t like them or they didn’t work for the way I plan.

I know that FOMO is hard to combat, but it can be done.  Honestly, you miss out on stuff every day.  There’s no way for everyone to experience/own everything.  And that’s OK.  Focus on what really matters to you, and forget everything else.

What is Enough?

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Credit: Pixabay

What is enough?  This question has been on my mind a lot lately.  With an ever-growing gap between the haves and have-nots, is there a point where you have enough?

I think people would be a lot happier if they would stop and think about what it is they truly want.  Not what society tells them they should want, not what ads tell them they should want – but what they actually want.

I mean, I could say I want a million dollars, and that sounds great, because I currently don’t have a million dollars.  But is that really what I want?  And would a million dollars be enough?  What about 2 million? 10 million? 10 billion?  How much of anything do you actually need?

Now, I get that there’s a difference between need and want.  We all need a safe place to call home, to have our physical needs met (water, food, sleep, etc.), and love in our life.  But how much of the other stuff in our lives is because we’ve been convinced we need it when we really don’t?

I think this occupies a lot of my thinking because I want to move and downsize.  My current home is not a mansion by any means, but it’s still too big for the people who live in it.  There’s a large room in our home that doesn’t do anything but hold furniture.  We use it on the odd holiday, but other than that, it’s just a place that dust gathers.

I have a closet full of clothes, but I probably only routinely wear about 1/4 of it.  Our kitchen is full of gadgets we’ve used once and then forgotten about.  We have a treadmill, an elliptical, and an inverter table that no one uses.  (We got rid of the punching bag and the weight set.)  They, too, gather dust.  You know, for that day when suddenly we all become fitness fanatics.

When I’m older, I don’t want a huge house to take care of.  I don’t want to spend all my time cleaning things I never use.  I don’t want to tie my money up in useless things and then sit surrounded by those useless things.  I want to be able to travel.  I want to be able to stay home.

When I think about what I want, I need to be honest with myself.  For example, I’m an introvert and while I like to travel and see new things, traveling is hard for me.  It’s a lot of ‘new’ getting thrown at me, a lot of social situations I’m uncomfortable with, and if I’m not careful, the traveling wears me down and I end up spending more time in a hotel recharging than I do getting out and doing the things I want.

So while I’d love to travel, selling everything and traveling the world for a while, while certainly possible, is not at all something that would suit me.  My husband and I are fascinated with the tiny house movement and have often talked about buying a tiny house or RV and traveling the country.  It seems like a great idea for me – I can travel and see things, but I have my own house/space to recharge in when I need to.

I don’t want to travel forever, however, and I will eventually want another house.  A much smaller house, though.  Two bedrooms, two baths – enough room for guests when we have them, but no so much space that I spend all my time cleaning.

I think for most people, it’s not that we want to necessarily be rich.  It’s just that, generally speaking, if you have money, you have less to worry about.  Some people will argue that point, but I think for the most part it’s true.  Having money means you don’t have to worry about a place to live, putting food on the table, or having a medical issue sending you spiraling into bankruptcy.  And I think that’s what we all want, really – to not have to worry.  Money doesn’t solve every problem, certainly, but it solves a lot of them.

Of course, marketers and social media are very good at making you feel like you need ALL. THE. THINGS.  Have an iPhone? Great – is it the newest one?  If not, then girrrl, you need to get on down to the Apple store.  I mean, who doesn’t need to spend $1000 on a new phone?  Am I right?

And once you get it, don’t forget to let everyone on social media know you have one.  What?!  You don’t social media? Gasp of horror! How will you know your self-worth if you don’t have total strangers on the internet directing your self-esteem and validating your existence with likes and shares?!

Ok, that was probably a tad over-dramatic, but hopefully you get my point.

So, what does enough look like for you?  Do you need a million dollars? A billion?  A huge McMansion?  A sporty supercar?  A closet full of designer label clothing? Vacations all over the world?  What is it you truly want out of life?