Money: the best tools for more fulfilling, authentic, exciting spending
Our country is in massive debt. Most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, experiencing high levels of depression and anxiety. However, a few simple tools will help you feel freer, fulfilled, and excited about how you spend money.
“To have an extraordinary quality of life you need two skills: the science of achievement and the art of fulfillment.” — Tony Robbins
My parents seemed poor and lived in scarcity, despite being middle-class Americans. They taught me to be frugal. They went to great lengths to get the best deals and often bought low-quality items that would need to be replaced.
Since then, I have learned some useful methods and mindsets that help me feel in control, abundant, and internally aligned in my spending.
- Develop an Inner Yardstick for Fulfillment: You have to learn what truly brings you fulfillment before you can have more fulfillment. This tool also helps you to identify unfulfilling spending habits.
- Identify Your “Money Dials” and Dial Them Up: Learn which spending areas bring you the most fulfillment. Imagine a 10x version in these areas. Pour into the 20% that brings the most value and cut the rest.
- Create a Spending System that is “Anti-fragile”: Expect stress, optimize the opportunity in failure, and remove fragility. Like the human system for building muscles, you can get stronger with each failure.
1. Develop an Inner Yardstick for Fulfillment.
“Keeping up with the Joneses” does not lead to freedom. You will never feel abundant or fulfilled when you live by someone else’s standards. By tracking your spending and asking three simple questions, you will develop an internal yardstick for fulfillment:
- Did I receive satisfaction or fulfillment in proportion to the money I spent?
- Does this spending align with my values and life purpose?
- How would this spending change if I were financially independent?
Find a quiet spot to sit with your monthly spending and ask the questions for each category, i.e., groceries, transportation, entertainment. Maybe take a few minutes to meditate and ground, listening for your intuitive responses. Mark each question in each category with “less,” “more,” or “okay.”
Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, “Your Money or Your Life,” provide a game-changing perspective on finances: money is our life energy. This classic finance book includes several proven tools that have led millions to a fruitful relationship with money, i.e., the inner yardstick, creative ways to live well for less, how mindfulness and good habits work rather than a strict budget.
“Success based on anything but internal fulfillment is bound to be empty.” — Dr. Martha Friedman
2. Identify Your “Money Dials” and Dial Them Up.
We all prioritize spending differently. Common money dials include travel, relationships, self-development, convenience, and generosity. Spend time reviewing your calendar and bank statements if you are unsure what your money dials are. People often mistype themselves.
Once you discover your money dials, scale way back in areas where you do not find great value and consider what 10x-ing your money dials could look like. You often discover that your dreams are more accessible when you get specific and authentic about what feels luxurious.
“Spend extravagantly on the things you love and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.” — Ramit Sethi
Reflect on your purchases, note where you feel the most fulfillment, and find ways to scale it up. For someone who values relationships and self-improvement the most, you might prioritize purchasing a new learning course, a private tutor, therapy sessions, a romantic dinner or getaway, or thoughtful gifts.
3. Create a Spending System that is “Anti-fragile.”
Building a great relationship with money is very challenging, and you will fail many times. You will make an unhelpful decision, buy the wrong thing, realize how much crap you own that does not bring you fulfillment. Learn to turn your failures into direct learning opportunities.
Like building muscles, human systems are anti-fragile: your muscles get stronger as a direct result of stress. Leo Babauta, Zen Habits, shares some tools for making any system more anti-fragile.
- Expect stress, failures, and crashes.
- Design a system that gets stronger with stress and failure.
- Remove fragility from the system.
- Take small risks often.
- Embrace uncertainty.
- Embrace failure.
- Intentionally inject stress into your life.
You can make your authentic spending journey more anti-fragile by giving yourself accountability, reflecting as you go, making adjustments, removing unhealthy habits, and getting comfortable with discomfort. One step at a time, you can make small changes for slow, healthy growth.
Our culture does not make authenticity easy. We are constantly bombarded with advertising messages that tell us we are not good enough, we need more, and we need others’ approval. You will never get others’ approval if you do not first have your own approval.
These tools have been game-changers for millions to cultivate a relationship with money that is authentic, fulfilling, and exciting. You will start valuing your time and energy and making decisions aligned with your purpose and values. Take a few deep breaths, get excited, and take the first step.