Getting good with money isn’t what you think.
It’s about getting what you really want.
When you envision someone that is good with money, what do you think about? Is it someone who sticks to a budget, no matter what? Do you think about saying no to fun things like dinners out and trips to a nail salon? Do you think about putting piles of money away, sacrificing today for the sake of an ephemeral tomorrow?
You might be surprised to know that I don’t think that is what makes someone good with money, and it’s not what I would encourage you to do.
Getting good with money is about prioritizing the things you value most with your money.
It can be difficult to know if you are doing this. What do you truly value? What does that mean to you, and how can you actually implement it in your life? These are tough questions, but with reflection and good conversations, the picture can become clearer.
As an example, many of my clients value their families above everything. How this plays out in each family is different. For some families, it’s having a big house where the family can spend lots of time together. For others, it’s going on memory making trips together. Both can be great choices. Those families also might choose to spend less on eating out so they can save plenty for all the things they know that they’ll need and want in the future, too.
When you make a choice to not have dinner out, it should be because you are depriving yourself of dinner out. It should be because you are making a choice towards something. You are choosing to prioritize that family trip by eating at home. You are choosing to prioritize a comfy home when you are older.
Sometimes, in the present moment, it can be hard to remember all of the things your future self will need and want. Intellectually, we know that we’d like to be comfortable when we’re too old to work. However, what your future self actually needs is so fuzzy. What will you want and need when you are 80? Part of the work is to try to make what you’ll need in the future a bit more concrete, so you know if you really are on the right track.
Your time, money, and energy are precious resources, and there are trade offs. Getting good with money means making the right trade off between future you, current you, and putting what you find most important first.
If you are making a choice to save rather than spend, I want you to feel good about it. I want you to feel like you are living a life you love, and that you are moving towards a life you feel confident you’ll love in the future too.