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. But you’re struggling to pay your bills or you have dreams and aspirations which seem unattainable at your current income.
I get this.
For most of my life I have wished I had more money.
I always had what I needed—more than some and less than others. It wasn’t that I needed to shop at the most expensive stores or to drive a nicer car. What really got to me was that there were places I wanted to go, ideas I wanted to actualize, and even people I wanted to help that I couldn’t because, as I saw it, I couldn’t afford it.
Just the thought of money would give me a tremendous amount of anxiety.
That is, until recently.
To be honest, my financial situation hasn’t changed that dramatically. I do make more money now than I ever have before. At the same time, I’m still in a bit of debt from graduate school and I recently went through a divorce, and have bills and obligations, like anyone.
There are still some things I desire for which money seems like an obstacle.
But I picked up this book by Kate Northrup.
It’s called Money, A Love Story and she talks about the ways we limit the flow of money into our life.
- By denying or ignoring our current financial position
- By not being willing to admit what we really desire for our financial lives
- With our unconscious thoughts, ideas and fears around money.
She gives all kinds of suggestions to re-route unhelpful ideas and habits around money, and one that stuck out to me was to change the way you talk about it.
Specifically, she recommended that when there is something you wish you could do or have that feels out of your financial reach in the moment, instead of saying, “I can’t afford that,” you learn to say, “that’s not a priority for me right now. Currently my financial priority is… [fill in the blank].”
I’ve taken her advice and been surprised.
Partly, I’ve been surprised by how often I was saying or thinking, “I can’t afford that.” It was multiple times a day, when I was honest with myself.
I’ve also been surprised by how changing the way I talk about money has significantly reduced the anxiety I feel around it. 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.
That might sound crazy, but it’s true.
Learning to 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 has changed the way I experience money in my life.
It’s made me feel like I have more of it.
Recently I have been thinking about how I really want to go on a trip to Italy. It’s obviously not a necessity, but it’s been a dream of mine for a long time, so it’s on my list of goals for the next 12 months. I checked airline tickets and they’re around $1200.
To me, that’s pretty significant.
But rather than saying, “It’s too expensive!” or “I can’t afford that!” I’m saying, “It’s not my number one priority right now. I’ll start saving and I will be able to go eventually.”
As Northrup says:
If you really wanted it you would figure out a way to get it. If it were that VALUABLE to you, you would make it happen. So it’s not that you can’t afford it. It’s just that you don’t value it enough to do what it would take to get it. —Kate Northrup
Talking about it this way 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 mortgage 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?
If you’re interested in more resources regarding money or any other topic I write about here, check out my Additional Resources page.