I’ve already hit a stumbling block in my pursuit of things that I daydream about. This might sound like a problem, but it’s actually what I hoped would happen: I wanted this project to teach me about myself and the barriers I put up to prevent me living my ideal life. When I started out, I thought the biggest thing holding me back was my self-consciousness. But actually, the thing that I’ve been coming across again and again is the voice inside my head that says: “You can’t spend money on that.”
I’ve always felt guilty about spending money. Interestingly, I don’t think this has made me a particularly good saver. All it’s done is made me continually deny myself big things I want and exciting opportunities that come my way, while I fritter away all my money on little “treats” (coffee at the station, a chocolate bar at work, a magazine for a night in) that I tell myself I deserve because I’ve been driving the same car forever and not been on a holiday for over a year.
But recently, I’ve started to evaluate my relationship with my finances and what I choose to spend my money on. Before this, thinking about money just made me panic. I felt like I was constantly reacting to things that came my way and spending a lot of money without consciously ever making a decision about what I wanted to spend my money on. Without ever thinking about what is important to me.
Now I’ve realised that if I’m going to keep crossing things off my list, I need to stop being afraid of spending money to do so. Instead of feeling guilty about spending money I’m going to appreciate how much value spending money can add to my life – if I spend it on the right things.
So I’m going to stop money fears holding me back and start spending. But before I do, I’m going to ask “What value does this add to my life?”
There are a lot of things that I’ve always wanted or wanted to do but have been held back by how much it costs. I need to stop worrying that the product or experience itself may not be worth the money, and realise that the real value is to have tried it anyway. Some things are worth spending money on so I can stop wondering what they might be like, or stop wishing that I was brave enough to do it. To this end, today I’ve pre-ordered a Versalette; something I’ve been lusting after for years. Why don’t I deserve one, if I want one? It might be more than I usually spend on clothing but it’s something I can actually afford.
Sometimes you have to spend money on something once to discover that it doesn’t add long term value. For instance, just over a month ago I dyed the ends of my hair bright pink. It was fun for about three days but I don’t think I’d bother again. However, I’d been thinking about it for so long that the joy of finally seeing it happen was definitely worth the money, even if it wouldn’t be worth the money a second and third time around.
One thing that’ll always be worth the money for me is visiting people. Last week I travelled to London to meet some fellow Alivers for dinner and a drink. I have to admit that one part of my brain was adding up the cost of getting to London, getting across London and paying for a reasonably pricey dinner (in was London after all) just to spend a couple of hours in the company of some pretty awesome people. But wait, what do I mean “just”? Spending time with awesome people is one of the best things that life has to offer – far more important that having a bit of money sat in a bank. If I was too afraid to spend money socialising, all I would do is sit and home and feel lonely. I’d never meet anybody new, never feel that connection that you feel when you talk to someone who gets you, and risk never making another close friend.
Before you think it, this isn’t all an excuse to spend money. This last week I also took the difficult decision to sell my car because it wasn’t adding as much value to my life as it should have been considering how much it was costing me to run.
Likewise, I’m often tempted by things that, on reflection, would not add that much value to my life. Even though I quite fancy them I know that I don’t need:
- A kindle, because carrying a paperback in my bag isn’t that heavy, and I can buy them cheaply from charity shops and re-donate them when I’m done.
- A newer bike, because mine gets me from A to B.
- Magazines, because I only ever flick through them, and I’d get the same experiences from looking at blogs on my phone.
Sometimes value is about timing. For instance, I would love to learn a language but there’s no point doing it right away because I have no immediate plans to travel. When I do learn a language I want to be be able to use it every day so I don’t forget it like I’ve forgotten all the French and German I learnt at school.
Of course, what people value are so different, and that’s what makes the world interesting. Let me know in the comments what you consider worth spending money on and what you could sacrifice to make way for more value in your life.