Do you ever feel like no matter how much money you have, it just isn’t enough?
You try to tell yourself it is enough (after all, you should be thankful for what you have, right?) but maybe you’re struggling to pay your bills or you have dreams and aspirations which seem unattainable at your current income.
No matter how many “you’re blessed” pep talks you give yourself, it doesn’t eliminate the frustration of limited finances.
I get this. I didn’t grow up with a ton of money.
I mean, it’s all relative I suppose. I always had what I needed. I had more than some and less than others. But we didn’t shop at the fanciest stores. We didn’t eat out much. We didn’t drive brand new cars.
When people talked about buying things or going on nice vacations or spending money on experiences, just the thought of it would give me anxiety.
The things I wanted always felt a bit out of my financial reach.
That is, until recently.
To be honest, my financial situation hasn’t changed that dramatically. I do make more money now than I did when I was in college or graduate school (obviously). Plus, I’m married and we don’t have kids yet, so with two incomes, we have a little wiggle room in our financial life we didn’t have before.
At the same time, I’m still in a little bit of debt from graduate school and we have bills and obligations, like anyone.
We still don’t drive fancy cars. We probably eat out too much. But I look for coupons and sales. For the most part, we are pretty conscious about where our money goes.
There are still several things we desire to do for which money seems like an obstacle.
That said, something really specific has changed about my financial life—and that’s the way I talk about money.
Talking about money differently has significantly reduced the anxiety I feel around money, it has given me the freedom to spend money on the things that matter most to me and in a really weird way it feels like it has expanded the money I do have to make it more valuable.
I know that seems impossible, but stay with me.
There is one particular phrase I’ve stopped using when it comes to money.
The phrase goes like this: “I can’t afford that” (or “it’s too expensive”)
It’s not that this phrase is never true in its own right. But learning to reframe the statement has helped me reframe the way I think about money—to stop thinking about it as a scarce resource, only available to certain people, and to begin thinking about it as a renewable resource that follows certain laws of nature.
So, for example, I really wanted to go to Italy for our anniversary this year. It’s obviously not a necessity, but we never went on a big honeymoon and it’s always been a dream of mine. I checked airline tickets and they’re around $1200 each.
To us, that’s pretty significant.
But rather than saying, “It’s so expensive!” or “We can’t afford it!” I’m saying, “it’s not our number one priority right now. Maybe next year.”
This simple change takes the responsibility off of my outside circumstances and puts it onto me for my financial choices.
It allows me to be the one who controls my money, rather than the other way around.
This might seem like a small deal, but I don’t think it is.
The more I pay attention to the people I know who talk about money this way—as a renewable resource that is not fixed in space and time, but as a resource we can train and use to our advantage—the more I believe this is a key to being content with your financial circumstances, no matter what they are.
I find this simple shift to be helpful whether I’m talking about a trip to Italy or whether I’m talking about my next light bill or rent payment.
As Marie Forleo says, “Not enough is a spiritual state, not a financial one.”
I’m curious. What phrases do you need to stop using when it comes to money? What are your strategies for being content with what you have, rather than constantly hoping for more?