A pair of earrings. A new phone. Something to splurge on, just because.
What thing do you want, but believe isn’t worth your money right now?
I can’t help but ponder that question as I sit with my morning coffee, reading “The Millionaire Mindset” by Gerry Robert, a book about the perspective you must embrace in order to achieve success and earn money. I am only through the first lines of the introduction yet it feels like every word was written for me, like I’m the bullseye and every word is a dart hitting me dead-on. Why? Because last month I committed myself to two purchases that, added together, cost more than my annual salary. Yikes, right? Not really, because I’m confident that I will make it all back, and much more. It is a smart business investment.
I know that I will be better than fine.
For a culture that emphasizes the importance of having money, we sure don’t like to talk about how much of it we have. In fact, we’re told that to do so if we have an abundance of wealth is classless and rude; on the flipside, we’re made to feel “less than” if we don’t live comfortably. The discussion of money can cause a lot of shame for those who don’t have it, something I know from personal experience.
It was one weekend many, many years ago, at the time of year when summer is winding down. I was a teenager doing some back-to-school shopping. Our family had moved to the United States a few years before and my parents were working hard just to put food on the table. I noticed a pair of gold earrings and I wanted them so badly. I could tell that my mom also thought they were beautiful. We asked the clerk if we could take a look at them to see how much they were. We looked at the tag: $40. My mom immediately said “Thank you.”
We walked away so fast it felt like we’d been given an evacuation order.
As we left, I said “I will earn money and buy them for myself.” And I did. In fact, I’ve been providing for myself ever since. It was only later that I learned my mom was making $40 a month at the time, and as I recall that revelation I begin to cry because I know that she would have given me those earrings and anything else in the world if she could have afforded to.
We are programmed by our personal histories to treat money a certain way. Some of us revere it, some of us respect it, some of us resent it. But what really holds us back from embracing a relationship with money and spending is us and our habitual ways of viewing our finances. Fiscal responsibility means not spending everything you have frivolously; what it doesn’t mean is holding on to everything you have and not allowing yourself to splurge every once in a while. There can be joy in spending money on things we don’t need but really want. And if that joy comes with fear, that’s okay, as long as we know deep down that the purchase won’t deplete us. If we’re realistic about how we view money instead of holding it up to standards that don’t apply to our current life situations, then we can break the cycles in which we were raised. And we should do, because we deserve to enjoy our hard-earned successes.
In life, today, to break my own poverty conditioning, I bought something for myself that cost more than my annual salary, because I am worth it.