We all have a “back story” when it comes to money! I like to think of money as “the flow” of life. (Please note this is not an endorsement for this gentleman’s financial planning services…)
More on the “f” word – frugal!
Wounds from the Great Recession haven’t fully healed, making it much harder to get ready financially
Frugality – the new spendy!
Warren Buffett isn’t the only rich person that lives frugally.
Let’s go shopping! Retail therapy is a high that many of us keep returning to as our “drug of choice”. It’s all fun and games ’til the money runs down and our homes are jam-packed with more stuff than we can possibly use, much less need. And we still want more – we’re culturally primed by advertising that buying more stuff will result in (fill in the blank…) happiness, status, security, escape from problems etc. Many of us are short sighted, preferring to live it up now and enjoy life. Assuming you have a big pile of money, and have factored in the astronomical costs of providing senior support services as you age, you might be able to get away “living large”. Philosophically, being “spendy” has a dark side for us personally, as well as having a negative impact on the planet.
Figure 1 Credit Steve Snodgrass CC license via Flickr
Perhaps there is some truth to the stereotype about my heritage as a Thrifty Scot. I’ve done my share of overspending, but unlike many Baby Boomers, I try to live within my means, a terribly unfashionable stance. This is not easy, either from the pragmatic or emotional aspects, and requires a healthy dose of self-discipline and introspection. This post on TV Tropes sheds some light on the Thrifty Scot myth. Note that Wikipedia also has a reference from the early 20th century on how Scotch™ Tape got its name!
I’ve recently been inspired by a dog-eared paperback from the library, “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Rodriquez. In Chapter 6, they discuss “the American dream on a shoestring” which I found very enlightening.
Also from Chapter 6: “How did frugality lose favor among Americans? It is, after all, a perennial ideal and a cornerstone of the American character…And the challenges of building our nation required frugality of most of our citizens. Indeed, the wealth we enjoy today is the result of centuries of frugality…”
Even the word “frugal” is unappealing, as are its synonyms – prudent, stingy, thrifty, scrimping and meager. Chapter 6 continues to explore what they call “the pleasures of frugality” and state that “Frugality is enjoying the virtue of getting good value for every minute of your life energy and from everything you have the use of…To be frugal means to have a high joy-to-stuff ratio.”
A Google search for “frugality” will result in many blogs, and many world views. An early adopter in the frugality movement was The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn in the late 1990’s. As Vicki Robin says, “Frugality is the balance we seek…(it is) being efficient in harvesting happiness from the world you live in. Frugality is right-use…the wise stewarding of money, time, energy, space and possessions…We aren’t talking about being cheap, making do or being a skinflint or a tightwad. We’re talking about creative frugality, a way of life in which you get the maximum fulfillment for each unit of life energy spent.”
Figure 2 Credit John Morgan CC License via Flickr
Those holiday credit card statements are starting to arrive and sobering thoughts are turning to organizing for 2016 taxes. As one of our goals or resolutions for the New Year, many of us want to work on getting our financial houses in better order. As in “brick and mortar” houses, there is always something that could use our attention.
Our unique relationships with money are based on our upbringing and life experiences. In our working years, we exchange much of our time for money, often due to the pressures of family obligations. In retirement, we puzzle over risk tolerance, investments, expenses, providing for healthcare and long term care and living on fixed incomes in a low interest rate environment.
Days gone by, discussing money may have been considered impolite. Today, we have hundreds of authors and Internet gurus advising on the “nuts and bolts” as well as the softer side of money, such as Suze Orman, Brent Kessell (It’s Not About the Money) and many others. Financial archetypes range from “the guardian” to “the artisan” to “the innocent” to “the warrior”. We are told we need “the courage to be rich” and to unlock our emotions around money. I’m sure these provocative ideas sell plenty of books and seminars, but it takes discipline and determination to actually incorporate any of this good insight into our lives. A good place to start is the library or the Internet – for free!
In Your Money or Your Life (Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez) the authors suggest four money perspectives:
- The Street-Level perspective – banking, investing, insurance, taxes – Daily Money Management
- The Neighborhood perspective – the emotional/psychological realm, including our money mythology:
- Money as Security
- Money as Power
- Money as Social Acceptance
- Money as Evil
- The Citywide perspective – our cultural understanding of money – “We ignore intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth, having gotten stuck trying to continue to grow physically by adding more and more possessions.”
- The Helicopter perspective – personal responsibility and transformation – “Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for.”
- Other often neglected discretionary uses of life energy include your relationship to yourself and others, your creative expression and your contribution to your community.
As we start 2017, full of possibilities, I encourage you to open the door into your money personality – some may need to relax and let go, some may need to step up! As Suze Orman says, “If you expect your money to take care of you, you must take care of your money.”
(Images via Flickr Creative Commons with credit to: http://401kcalculator.org)
As we welcome 2017, I look at my own desk and my own backlog of projects with a certain amount of excitement and also a bit of guilt that some of my projects are lagging. New Year’s resolutions are full of promise, yet at the same time, we need to be honest with ourselves and realize that there is no magic wand that we can wave over our personal business and paperwork projects.
To paraphrase the quote that is attributed to Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things and expect different results.” It seems to be human nature to devote time to things we enjoy, and procrastinate on things we enjoy less. We are all “too busy” to get organized, or so we tell ourselves!
In the spirit of the New Year, I am starting this blog to present some tips and tricks I’ve learned and relied on through the years on managing projects and paperwork.