I’ve been thinking for a few days on what I was going to write today. I have a lot of ideas in my head that I want to share with you guys, all of them centered around this one conversation I had with our own Free Friday girl Justus a few weeks ago.
So today I’ll start with the first thought that came up.
Justus and I are planning a baby shower together for one of our very best friends. We took a Saturday a few weeks ago and went to visit the site where we wanted to host the shower. On the way back to her place in Capitol Hill we started talking about the health care legislation and, more specifically, her thoughts on it. Justus is Canadian, married to an American and newly residenced in the US. She talked a lot about culture shock and very specifically around American obsession with celebrity culture.
I told her that I think the need to track celebrities is this idea that Americans are taught from a very early age and in all generations that we can achieve anything we want with hard work and perseverance. Which I want so badly to believe in. We have such great examples of this from our president to celebrities to a majority of professional athletes. But what this does is leave us with a feeling that we MUST HAVE IT ALL. NOW. And if we don’t then we’re somehow defunct or not working hard enough, or that someone else is trying to bring us down, when in fact very few people are actively trying to keep others down, but rather, as a society, we are taught to value certain things above others. Wealth, possessions are more valuable than relationships and feelings. How many times have you been told not to cry? Or, women everywhere, that you should focus on your career and forget any guy who gets in your way (what does that even mean?).
As a financial planner, my biggest obstacle is teaching people to really focus on what it is they want in their lives. Remember by 70% therapy model? This is where it all comes in. I have to have clients focus on what it is they view as their ideal life and start to pull away the crap that gets in the way. But this is very hard to do as Americans. We’re taught that we need to have big houses full of stuff, eat out a lot, travel a lot, have great clothes, new gadgets, and so we have a hard time listening through all that noise to our hearts and hearing what it is that truly makes us happy.
It also doesn’t help that we’re constantly connected to everyone in our lives, past and present, through social media sites. So other people’s priorities get in our way of establishing our own. We see pictures or statuses of someone’s awesome skiing trip and think we should ski too. Or the pictures of people out socializing in bars and think about how much we’re missing out, even if, in reality, we’d love nothing more than to curl up with our pets and a good book in the quiet of our own home. Introverts everywhere understand what I’m talking about with that later examples.
So what’s a person to do? How do we figure out what we really want?
This is the heart and soul of your financial life. If everyone knew this, I would be out of business.
So today, tomorrow, next week, take 30 minutes alone and think about what your ideal life looks like. Not what glossy magazines, TV or other friends’ expectations make you think it should look like. Think about when you are happiest, most at peace and then you will have your answer of where you should be spending your money. And then start the shedding process. When you walk past a store to buy new clothes, remind yourself that your favorite thing is your weekly happy hour with friends and turn around. Or, in my case, if I want a fancy coffee, I remind myself that my favorite times are at home with my honey and I stop so I can put money towards our down payment, or, now, comfier furniture and our plans to make our house a home.
I’d love to hear what you come up with.
And if you need additional help, I have a very exciting announcement!
TPS is partnering up with me to host 2 seminars geared specifically towards artists and lower income earners. The first is on Saturday, August 18th from 10am-12pm and the second is on Monday, August 20th from 6:30p-8:30p. Both will feature the same information so pick your favorite day and come join me!
Cost is $40 for TPS members and $60 for non-TPS members. This includes the seminar, full of great information about financial basics and some more hand-holding through the process of making your finances easy to understand and easier to manage, and e-versions of all the worksheets I tell you about to track finances that you can use or not.
If you’re interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a side note: there’ll be snackies and coffee on Saturday and maybe some wine and beer on Monday.
I’m really excited about this, but can’t do it unless I have some interested parties, so be sure to email me to get in on the action!