It’s weird how big of a deal we make about personal finance…
We make a big deal about what we spend our money on. In the end, the way we spend our money is just a minute detail in the grand scheme of how we spend our life. Don’t get drug down in the details unnecessarily — especially if it doesn’t help you grow in your personal finance journey.
You don’t have to have an impressive spreadsheet, an aggressive budget, or even a detailed plan to spend your money well, get the bills paid, and buy what you want.
1 || Buy whatever you want
As a college student and a nerdy one at that, I’m always on the hunt for the next big tech steal, whether it be on Amazon or FaceBook marketplace. Recently I was contemplating buying an iPad Pro, an Apple Watch, and a monitor to split my laptop screen onto.
All in all, this would cost about $1,000, if not more. While all of these are reasonable purchases that would greatly enhance my life as a gadget junky, student, and business owner/writer/researcher, there was a voice in the back of my head telling me not to.
“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.”― Jackie Mason
While I love my mother very much, her voice is also the one that would follow me into any store as a kid (literally, not metaphorically) and tell me not to ask for too much. While as a kid this made sense, given I literally didn’t have space in my bedroom to contain all of the LEGOs and American Girl Dolls I wanted to own, I no longer need this voice telling me to spend less.
I’m now an adult who can make reasonable and satisfying choices about what to spend my money on. And if I have the money, the means, and the muster to do something productive with what I purchase, there is nothing and no one to say I can’t and shouldn’t.
2 || Actually save
One thing I learned pretty early on in high school was that I was going to have to start saving, for real, if I ever wanted to buy something bigger. If I wanted to buy a $30,000 car, I would either have to have $30,000 at one time or save until I had that amount set aside.
“The results aren’t the magic; we’re the magic. We’re the source of any result that comes into our lives, so we can stop falling in love with results and start falling in love with ourselves.”
― Kyle Cease, The Illusion of Money: How Chasing Money Is Stopping You from Living
I also had to learn that saving isn’t a poor person’s thing to do. Even rich people, doctors and lawyers, and businessmen who make millions of dollars might have to wait and stockpile money before purchasing something if they don’t want to extend beyond their means. Saving, either by literally putting money away or setting a goal to make a certain amount of money at a certain time, is a good habit of someone.
3 || Invest the way you find the most productive
Investing is the thing that will make you rich — just about every finance book, finance guru, and wealthy businessman will tell you that. But the problem is, high-profile investing isn’t for everyone. Maybe you simply don’t want to figure out how to do that, don’t want the added stress of it, or don’t have enough discretionary income to invest great sums of money.
Whatever your reason, I want to let you know that there’s still someplace you can invest. There are great apps that let you make returns on your money, small businesses you can help out in small ways, and people you can hire to do your investing for you if you’re interested in getting higher in the game.
“The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” — Phillip Fisher
To learn more about different types of investing and where you can get started, I’d recommend reading any of Robert and Kim Kiyosaki’s books, doing a free consult with a reputable financial consultant either in your hometown or online, or find apps you know to be reputable and profitable that will help you invest whatever money you have.
4 || Don’t mindlessly consume
One of my favorite points made in the Netflix Documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things, is the distinction made between consumption and compulsory consumption. In our fast-paced consumer culture, we often don’t even think about things before we buy them. We simply want them, and so we get them.
“If you think you need something for you to be happy, you make that thing your god.”― Kyle Cease
We don’t think about if they’re sustainably sourced, or whether it’ll really add to our lives, or if we already have it. The second point in that film I’ve always appreciated is the distinction made between materialism in the traditional sense, and materialism in a literal sense.
“Never use the word “cheap”. Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans — it’s up to you.”
― Karl Lagerfeld
In short, we don’t see our things for what they really are. We don’t see them as tools that we’re supposed to control, not the other way around. We need to realize that things aren’t going to give us happiness and joy, they’re just going to be tools in our journey, helping us to do whatever thing they were designed to do. Mindless consumption doesn’t get us anywhere — and mindful and minimalist consumption, only purchasing what has real utility for us, is the key.
5 || If you want more, make more
The sky’s the limit when it comes to how much money you make. At some point, you don’t have enough time, space, or attention to consuming all of the things you purchase. You could buy an endless amount of food but have no time or space in your stomach to eat it. You could buy a house with four stories and 76 rooms and never see the basement. You could buy a dozen laptops you never have the chance to use.
“It’s more important to get started than to spend an exhaustive amount of time researching”― Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You To Be Rich
We’re not looking to have all of the money in the world — just enough to buy us what we want. If you want to buy more things, then aim to make more money. That seems really obvious, but it’s not talked about by a lot of people.
Many people often believe that if they’re not rich, then they can’t afford certain things. While technically that’s true, and you shouldn’t buy things beyond your means in most instances, there’s always another option — make more money. When you believe that you can purchase anything you need/want, then you’ll find a way to make that much money, or set aside enough money for it.
6 || Be proud when you spend money
We’re often made to feel guilty when we spend money. But spending money is oftentimes exactly what we need to do to take our next steps in the world. When I bought a Masterclass pass earlier this year, a $180 commitment that was a big deal for a broke college student, when I purchased a class pass for my campus rec center, paid for a gym membership that was expensive but the most convenient option, I tried to be proud of myself.
Not only had I made the money to pay for these things, but I had been wise and discerning enough to spend money on these things — all of which were incremental in growing myself in one way or another, and are things I use and benefit from to this day. Money is a tool, a marker of an exchange of energy. Be proud when you’re able to use it, trading in your work and effort into something you want, need, will use, and benefit from.
Katie is a freshman studying Neuroscience at Auburn University with the goal of being a primary care pediatrician. She is the author of On Purpose: Discovering Who You Are With The Enneagram, runs a professional Instagram @intentional_enneagram, and maintains a profile of work on LinkedIn — you can follow her here.
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6 Things Your Parents Never Told You About How To Spend Your Money was originally published in The Capital on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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