When it comes to spending, how often do you feel an uneasiness in your stomach? How many times do you find yourself wishing you had a better or different lifestyle? Even worse, do you often find yourself comparing your income to your siblings or closest friends?
Don’t worry, you’re no different than anyone else.
For the most part we all struggle with these feelings. It’s been going on for thousands of years and has only been magnified by living in a world driven by social media and advertising that constantly tells us what we “need” before we even know we need it!
The good news is, there’s an answer. What am I talking about? It depends on your principles. Living by sound principles directs your life choices, the way you raise your family, how you save your money and how prepared you are for your future.
Think about that for a minute!
Frame the Right Picture
The most important thing you can do is understand the importance of keeping the right frame of mind when it comes to your assets, income, and how and where you spend money.
Because in the end, your frame of mind is what drives your lifestyle.
What is that frame of mind? One word… contentment. If we can’t find contentment with where we are today, then it’s going to be tough to find contentment with where we are tomorrow. What we have today is what we have. So, based on what we’ve been given in this season of life, how do you live the best life possible with those resources?
How do you take care of your family? How do you properly give? How do you enjoy what you have? How do you find contentment with where you are today?
Now, I want to be very clear, I’m not saying don’t aspire. I’m not saying don’t aspire for more income, a job promotion, a bigger business, whatever it may be. In fact, John Wesley famously said, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” I am 100% with John Wesley on this. Can you imagine what a blessing increased income and resources will be if you can figure out how to be content with what you have today?
If you are content today and you get more tomorrow, you will be more content. If you aren’t content today and you get more tomorrow, you probably won’t be content tomorrow either.
That’s because more income, more resources, more stuff doesn’t make us content.
The real question is… how do you live the best life possible, given the amount of income you make and the amount of resources you have today?
Start by being grateful. By virtue of living in America, you are probably in the top 15% wealthiest people in the world. Not a bad starting place!
Then have a plan. I didn’t say the dreaded “B” word… budget. I said plan. A plan brings confidence which leads to contentment. Spending and lifestyle decisions are tough for everybody, but for those with a plan, it’s usually much easier. Along the way, we feel guilty for spending money but we shouldn’t as long as it’s within the limits of our income and it serves to maximize our lifestyle or those around us.
Know Where and Know How:
Know where your income is going before it ever hits the bank, and don’t let your credit card statement tell you where it went at the end of the month. Instead of getting nitty, gritty on a budget, I think a better way to go is to think about your income in terms of percentages.
- Sharpen your Pencil.
- Pick what percentage of your income you want going to each of the 5 Uses of Money. Start with giving and saving, then taxes and debt servicing.
- You’re left with living expenses. Now you know what you have left to spend on necessities and wants.
- Sharpen your Pencil.
You might say, well that sounds easy but how do I even get started? How do I know what percentages to use? Where do I begin??
Start With Principles
- Answer the question, “What is it you want?” The decisions we make today will impact tomorrow and ultimately affect how we, and others, spend eternity.
- Ask the question, “How much is enough?” We can’t be content if we don’t know what it takes. Decide now what you and your family are going to live on and then save or give away the rest. If you don’t put a limit on it, every time your income increases your spending will increase with it. Until the day your income doesn’t increase!
- Understand that money is a tool, a test and a testimony.
- Money is a tool… to provide for your family, to create life experiences.
- Money is a test… there will be rewards and consequences to how we use the money we’ve been given.
- Money is a testimony… Your kids, neighbors and colleagues are watching how you spend money and what you spend it on. Do you want to be the light of the world, or be just like everyone else in society? There is a decision to be made.
- Think long-term. Are you making decisions today that will hurt or help you three years from now, five years from now, and so on?
- Have goals. To make good spending decisions you need to know what you and your family are trying to accomplish. I suggest you have 3 or 4 overarching goals as a family. These goals should be specific and with a time frame attached to them. Once you have these goals, spending and lifestyle decisions become a lot easier because you can now run the decision through the grid of, “does this move us closer to or further away from our goals”.
Stay The Course
Spending and lifestyle decisions can be difficult. Finding contentment is tough. We live in a world of comparisons and in a world that programs us to believe the person with the most “stuff” usually wins. It’s hard not to play that game, but playing along and trying to compete is never a good idea.
Don’t fall into the trap of the fake American Dream… consumerism. We need to understand the forces we’re up against. Understand the manipulative nature of technology and advertising.
There is an old quote that will hit home for a lot of us. It goes something like this… “Too many people spend money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t even like.” Sound familiar?
Finding contentment in the lifestyle you have today makes saying “no” a whole lot easier.
No matter where you stand on the wealth spectrum, you should strive to find contentment and honor in all of your decisions.
Can You Answer...
… these two questions when it comes to lifestyle and spending?
1. How can you make the best of what you have?
2. What impact are you trying to make?
If you get these two right, contentment is just around the corner.
Ready to go deeper? Get started today, by better understanding your risk tolerance level and how that fits with the investments you currently hold.
Kane McGukin serves as Senior Data Strategist for Archetype Wealth Partners. He is passionate about technology, financial markets, and helping people progress. Archetype exists to help families thrive across generations by connecting their money with their purpose.
Disclaimer: Our intent in providing this material is purely for informational purposes, as of the date hereof, and may be subject to change without notice. This article does not intend to constitute accounting, legal, tax, or other professional advice. Visitors and readers should not act upon the content or information found here without first seeking appropriate advice from a trusted accountant, financial planner, lawyer or other professional.