Posted on June 17, 2009
IT’S A RICH MAN’S WORLD
When Peter Griffin’s welfare cheque on Family Guy was accidentally written out for $150,000 instead of $150, he built a moat around his home and rented the Statue of David. The kids of The OC spent cash like it was going out of style and were seemingly in constant competition with each other. Al Bundy dressed the part of a man made of money when his bank account temporarily swelled on Married… With Children.
So what’s the deal with our compulsion to spend-spend-spend instead of save-save-save?
A few months ago I wandered into Chapters looking for a book for women on financial management. I was starting from the ground up, so I knew that a little bit of leadership in my budgeting goals would be necessary. It’s easy to say “I’m going to stop spending money and start saving it,” but we all know that actions speak louder than words. One thing the book emphasizes is that understanding why we spend is the key to learning how to stop.
The last man in my life that I was constantly trying to impress – whether subconsciously or not – had incredibly particular tastes and expectations. Though unspoken, it was implied that my hair always needed to look somewhat luxurious, my nails needed to sport a specific type of manicure, my clothing needed to be as stylish as the labels in the seams, a tan was preferable and I wouldn’t dare go to bed at night without my legs shaved. Ghosts are tough to compete with.
Feelings of inadequacy or insecurity can reveal themselves in countless ways, but in women they generally rear their ugly heads in the form of spending. Whether we’re trying to impress a man, stay neck-at-neck with our girlfriends or keep up with the Joneses, the results are the same. “Retail therapy” provides a quick fix, but the high often crashes as soon as it starts. And sadly, until we can identify our personal reasons, any changes we attempt in an effort to better our financial situation will come back like a boomerang and knock us upside the head. This applies to women and men, and can concern alcohol abuse, unhealthy relationships, drug use or sexual habits.
While only a week into my strict and self-imposed budget, I have quickly realized how much I actually enjoy this new lifestyle. It’s become apparent to me how much I craved a structure I simply didn’t have. While I initially assumed living within a tight budget would cause me great stress, I’m surprised to learn how stress-free it has instead made my life.
Reaching a place of understanding, self-acceptance and personal peace in my life has given me an incredible freedom that’s causing a ripple effect. Does this mean I won’t still purchase so-called finer items? Certainly not. But if and when I do, the only person I’ll be purchasing them for is myself.
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