As promised, today we’ll look at it from the other direction: Looking at the money we spend to see what qualities our choices are increasing (or decreasing).
Still with the big fat caveat
I said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when looking at how we spend our money. Our stuff gets triggered, shoulds get louder, our hindsight tells us we could have done better…it happens to all of us.
We’re just gathering information with no expectation of making changes. So that we can have some clarity around what our money is doing for us in terms of supporting our vision (or taking us away from it).
The questions (with my own answers)
Pick two or three things you currently spend money on regularly, that you believe aren’t necessities. What qualities do they bring or what needs do they fulfill?
Going out to eat and ordering take-out – I guess this brings the qualities of ease and support. It means we don’t have to cook. Perhaps it also brings luxury or, well, whatever the quality is for indulging my sense of taste.
Starbucks – Partly the taste thing again. Sometimes connection when I met people there. But my history with lattes is that they were something I picked up on my way to the office, so it was more about “making up” for the fact that I had to go somewhere I didn’t want to go.
Renting DVDs – It brings fun, sometimes creativity if the movie sparks ideas for me. Connection with my husband when we discuss the movie.
More-than-basic cable & DVR – Sometimes fun. The DVR brings ease (I guess) or efficiency (!), in that we’re not forced to sit through commercials. Connection if we’re watching something together.
What I’m noticing: For all of the items I listed above, I’m feeling like I need to defend the money I spend on them. I also notice that these things can be used for good or for evil. Yes, movies and TV can bring fun and connection, but sometimes I use them to numb out when I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes they bring dis-connection, because it’s passive entertainment.
For the qualities and needs you listed above, what other ways could you receive them while spending less money?
I could replace the ease of ordering out with simple recipes that leave us with a few days of leftovers. Bonus points if the recipe tastes really good. Usually I’m okay with leftovers (even boring ones) because they’re so easy.
I could also start working on my pattern of using TV to numb out when I’m overwhelmed. I’m sure there are much better ways to unwind and recharge, but this is a habit that spans decades, so it might take a while to unravel it all.
I could increase the fun and connection from renting movies with a board game night sometimes.
My Starbucks habit has already dropped off considerably now that I’m not going to an office. Plus, we make really good coffee at home.
Are there better ways to receive those qualities, even if it costs the same or more money?
Note: the point of this question is to encourage you to consider how you’re meeting your needs. Something more expensive might give you a lot more of what you’re wanting, compared to the cheaper thing that only gives you a very small amount.
Instead of reverting to movies and TV together all the time, we could consider signing up for a class together. Swing dancing, or painting. My sense is creating shared experiences would do a lot for increasing the qualities of connection, creativity and fun.
What comes up for you when you think about some of your spending and the ways you could change it?
I see quite a few things that I spend money on due to inertia – it’s easier to just keep it the way it is than to address it.
I’m also noticing that sometimes giving ourselves what we really need and want, rather than choosing the convenient options, is its own form of work. Sad but true.
Now that you’ve explored your spending and the qualities it brings, are there any changes that feel like a “No-Brainer” to you?
I’m definitely going to work on ordering out less, because I realize now that it just doesn’t give me that much of the qualities I’m wanting. I’d like to go from ordering out twice a week to twice a month. I can even try to find some fun recipes to try.
Until next time…
I’m thinking it might be time to talk about that elephant in the room, Necessity.
What about you?
Any aha moments from looking at the qualities your spending is bringing you? Any No-Brainer changes you’d like to make? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Oh, and feel free to share your No-Brainer recipes that you think I should try!
Enjoying this process of using qualities to direct your investments of time, money and energy? My upcoming course will be using the same approach to help you get clarity and create structure in your business. I’m offering a $200 early-bird discount until February 11. You can get the details here.