Let’s be honest, our world has turned into that focuses a lot on intuition. In a world of “follow your gut”, “trust your heart”, and “intuitive dieting”, we’ve come to understand the value in aligning yourself with what your inner voice is telling you. What’s so great about this though, and what numerous personal testimonials will speak to, is that it doesn’t just have to apply to the big moments. Your intuition, and consequential trusting of it, can result in you living a happier and more directed life in every area and in every day to day part of life.
“Truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” — Malcolm Gladwell
This included your health and wellness, your diet, and maybe most importantly to you — your money. After becoming a more financially successful freelance writer at the beginning of this year, and going through the aggressive spending phase that the pandemic and quarantine brought on for most of us, I learned a lot about what was and wasn’t worth buying. In my first semester of college, I learned the same.
Since then, not only have I curbed and directed my spending towards that which truly satisfied and fulfills me, but I’ve discovered Ramit Sethi’s guilt free spending, Oprah’s focus on value rather than dollar signs, and Will Roger’s demand for us to buy things that we want and we like.
1 || Always stay within your means
People who make a lot of money don’t need to buy things they can’t afford. They either buy something not quite as large, wait a while, or simply make more money. This seems simple, but it really is a tool the rich employ to stay on top of the game. They stay within their means, and raise it if they come across something they can’t afford.
“Buy not on optimism, but on arithmetic.” — Ben Graham
Instead of looking at bigger and better things and thinking “I can’t afford that”, they adjust their adjust their intake of money and determine instead that “I should be making more money” and take actions in step with that belief. I think this also means that you don’t buy things simply because you might have the money in the future.
Those who are truly wealthy know how much money they make — are comfortable with that number — and aren’t going to go out and purchase something that their bank account can’t handle. If you want to improve your financial situation, I would start there. Buy what you can, and if you want something you can’t pay for, make more money. It’s simple math, really.
2 || Try and pay off your debt/credit immediately
I think that this is a place that most people get stuck in. I wouldn’t go as far to say that you should only focus on paying this off, as Dave Ramsey might suggest. After all, you have a life to live and spending a whole year with no fun and no Chick Fil A and no new books sounds like a pretty sucky year.
But paying off your debt/getting caught up on your credit card should most definitely be a priority. I love the way world-renowned financial author Ramit Sethi puts it in the quote below and explains in his book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Basically the idea behind this “debt payoff date” is a date you’ve calculated based off of how much you’re currently putting aside to pay off your debt.
“Whenever you’re in debt, I always ask people: What is your debt payoff date?” — Ramit Sethi
He wants you to determine when you’ll be debt free, and to bring that date closer, if possible, by committing a little more money to that debt in the short term to pay it off sooner. This will help you get “caught up” in a way, allowing you to more freely spend money without worrying about debt you still have to pay off. Having the debt looming over you head definitely isn’t going to help your intuitive spending goals.
3 || Save up money for impulsive spending
I was listening to a Life Kit podcast recently on this topic, where the two interviewees were discussing how much they depend on the habit of setting aside money for Amazon purchases this month. Instead of feeling guilty over these purchases, they were able to enjoy them with the money they set aside.
I’ve leaned into this habit a little myself, allowing myself to buy about $50 worth of clothes every couple of weeks, whether that be a new really nice item, or a few small things from a less expensive store, as well as allowing myself a new $20 journal whenever I need them, and new books off of Amazon a couple of times a month.
“Conscious spending isn’t about cutting your spending on everything. [...] It is, quite simply, about choosing the things you love enough to spend extravagantly on — and then cutting costs mercilessly on the things you don’t love.” ― Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Again, I love Ramit’s advice in this book, prioritizing well-being and intuitive spending over the cliche fear and safety-based “financial security” tips. He focuses not just on saving money and paying off debt, but leaning into the things you truly love and allowing yourself “guilt free spending” on those things.
4 || Compare new purchases to past buying mistakes
Last year, I went through an insane Amazon clothing binge. Every week, I’d purchase some new item of clothing from Amazon. Some of it was amazing — including some of my favorite pairs of shoes and all star jean jacket. Other items didn’t fare so great in my cluttered closet, never getting used, and often making me feel bad about myself every time I put it on due to the wrong color or a bad fit.
“You can’t make the same mistake twice, the second time you make it, it’s no longer a mistake, it’s a choice.” — Unknown
Just the other day, in hopes of finding a couple items to close out my capsule wardrobe collection for a while, I went to Amazon to search for a couple staples. I found some good options, for sure, and that’s because I knew what not to look for. When I went through that Amazon shopping spree during the bleak 2019 months, I learned a lot about what fits I liked, what types of material not to purchase, and the way colors could look different in person compared to what they looked like on the website.
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.” — Will Rogers
Since then, I’ve been a much more intuitive spender because I can recognize the potential life in the image shown to be on the massive buying-inspiring website. I see a cute girl with different body type from me wearing an item that I acknowledge is super cute on her, while in the same breath agreeing with my intuition that it won’t fit me correctly and won’t be worth the $27.99 it costs or the hassle it’ll be to send it back.
5 || Stop worrying about money
Evidence shows that worrying about money actually causes you to be a less effective and satisfied steward of it. The more worried about it you are, the less wise you’ll be in handling it on a day to day basis. And there’s one thing you need to know about how wealthy people think about money — they usually aren’t stressed about it.
“A beautiful heart can bring things into your life that all the money in the world couldn’t obtain.” — Dau Voire
In the end, just as the Bible says, nobody adds anything to their life by worrying about money. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful to be self-aware, money-conscious, living within your means, and acting from some sort of budget system. It just means that you know that it isn’t the biggest deal in the world, and if you buy something and it’s a bad idea, it’s not the end of the world.
Recently, I sold a perfectly good 2012 Toyota Corolla that was silver and had been my first car, and with that money purchased a 2010 Nissan XTerra — the closest thing I could get to a Jeep Wrangler considering the money I was making at the time. Now, as my “new” car has been in the shop for days being repaired for what will cost about a grand, I’ve been evaluating that decision and whether it was worth it.
“The reason I’ve been able to be so financially successful is my focus has never, ever for one minute been money.” — Oprah Winfrey
After I started down that track, though, I quickly stepped back — I realized that I’d already made the decision and there was no going back. I had made the best decision I could given my available options and resources at the time, and recalled that, despite its problems, I loved my new car and probably wouldn’t go back even if I had the choice now. I’m willing to have a few large unexpected expenses if it means I get to have the car I love.
And I’m just not going to worry about it, because that, as we all know, wouldn’t get me anywhere. In the end, it would appear that money is more towards the front than anything in living a rich life. It’s not about the money — it really isn’t. Any self-aware and truly fulfilled/happy rich person will tell you that.
6 || If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
If you have something that you like, don’t try and find something you’ll like better. This can be difficult, cause sometimes something’s off about your setup and it needs to be changed, but so long as that feeling doesn’t arrive — don’t aggressively look around for new reasons to be unsatisfied.
“I put zero weight into anyone’s opinion about me because I know exactly who I am. Can you say the same?” — Gary Vaynerchuk
That can only lend itself to a never ending routine in spending money that you don’t have to buy things that you don’t want, need, or even have room in your life to consume and benefit from. No matter what outside forces such as articles and books and individuals in your life may tell you, don’t allow yourself to follow the whims of whatever floats your way that day. Stand your ground, and only change course when you determine it’s really necessary.
7 || Apply to some minimalistic standards
While i’m not going to ask you to suddenly become a minimalist in your consumption, I would encourage you to take steps towards collecting and keeping only that which is essential to your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. But overall, I would say apply this to the way you calculate the spending of their money.
“A commander does not need to know the barometric pressure or the winds or even the temperature. He needs to know the forecast. If you get too caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data.” — Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, pg. 144
I’m well aware that there are probably some individuals reading this who love budgets and spreadsheets and knowing where every cent of your money lies and is spent on a daily basis, perhaps even down to the hour. But for the rest of us, myself included, not so much detail is required to properly manage money.
I would implore you, then, not just to be minimalist in what you purchase, focusing only on that which is really in tune with your values and desires and life style, not to mention your budget, but to not spend so much time figuring out exactly how to spend your money. It’s like how one shouldn’t read self-development material all the time, because at some point one must live their.
Figure out that bare bones of a budget, decide where you want to invest, determine how much money you have to spend, and go from there. Simple plans are easy to stick to, and easy to change if you find that they’re not working out the way they should.
8 || Let money prove your values
I’ve heard it set that you should spend more money where you spend more of your time, and I think that’s an excellent way to think about it. That even spills over into the idea of spending your money where your values are.
If you value your hobby of creating high quality music, then you might invest in a new guitar. If you value gift-giving as a love language for the people you care about in your life, then you should most certainly set aside large sums of money to buy special and significant gifts for those you love.
“If it’s only about money, we are hopeless. If it’s about people, we are hopeful.” — Maxime Lagacé
And finally, if travel is simply your fancy, by all means spend money doing it as often as you possibly can. Think about it — if someone looked at your credit card statement, Amazon past orders list, and receipts, what would they learn about you? What do you like? How much money do you spend at a time? What do you care about?
Let your choices breathe that out, not for anyone else to see, but for you to feel a new sense of alignment.
Hey! Thanks for reading. Also, if you’re looking for something else to pass the time/grow yourself with, go check out my book On Purpose: Discovering Who You Are With The Enneagram. I’m a freshman studying Neuroscience, Pre-Med at Auburn University with the goal of being a primary care pediatrician.