Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

by Sarah Winfrey on 19 June 2008 3 comments
Photo: aussiegall

We all think about money.

On one hand, it's hard not to right now, with oil prices soaring, interest rates falling, and mortgages crumbling all over the place. In fact, even people who don't normally think about money are thinking about it now. Non-budgeters are budgeting, non-investors are investing, non-savers are saving. And these are all good things! Overall, people are reining in materialistic lifestyles and substituting wise, frugal ones instead. We're gaining patience and discipline with our finances that can only help us over the long run.

The problem with anthing that requires a large dose of discipline, though, is that it's easy to burn out. It's one thing to bike to work for a month, and entirely another to do it all summer, for six months, or even to make it a lifestyle. Discipline is good, but when we push ourselves too far, too fast, we tend to get tired. Since discipline takes energy, feeling tired means we can't maintain our usual pace.

But maybe you're someone who has been disciplined about money for a long time. Maybe our current economy's prospects don't shake you because you're prepared and you've weathered storms before. Even then, it's easy for your financial routines to become blah. Saving doesn't give you the same rush it used to, or investing starts to feel overwhelming, dull, or uninteresting. You know you should look into that new fund or put $50 extra into your "New Car" savings account this month, but you just don't have the energy. Managing your money feels like work, and you're not sure it's worth the time and energy anymore.  

Either of these scenarios are possible when you're managing your money with your head and not with your heart. While the idea is counterintuitive to most frugal people, listening to your heart when it comes to your money can help you create financial routines that stick with you, even through the most drastic of life's changes.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

Bear with me here. I'm not talking about making stupid financial decisons, buying on impulse, or thinking only in the short-term. Instead, I'm suggesting that you ask yourself one simple question. The answer to this question can make your finances into something life-giving, something that feeds your soul, instead of something that drags you down. It can liven up dead financial routines and give you the strength to endure toward your financial goals even when you're tired or a new HDTV sounds better than saving toward that down payment.  It can make your financial routines truly reflect you, and not someone else's idea of who you should be.

Now, I suppose you want to know the question...and here it is.

What do you care about? That's right, I said, What do you care about?

As in, what makes your clock tick? What wakes you up in the middle of the night because you care, you want it, or it's just so cool? What lights your fire, scoots your boot, rocks your world, or soothes your soul? This is the thing (or the set of things) that could motivate you to move mountains, let alone handle your money like you know you want to. 

Really, it's as easy as all that. Find out what you care about, and then incorporate that into your financial life. When managing your money well is tied directly to something you care deeply about, you'll be motivated to overcome being tired and will create financial routines that will not leave you bored.

There are a million ways to incorporate what you care about into your financial routines. Invest green, designate a portion of your savings towards that eco-trip, manage your income so you can buy organic, local, or gourmet food. Lend money via micro-loans, help out someone nearby who is struggling, save money so you can quit your job and go freelance or pursue another dream.

Seriously, the possibilities never end.

So, what are you waiting for? Give it a go, and let me know what fabulous ideas you come up with!

Tagged: Lifestyle, heart, money
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Guest's picture

For decades I couldn't find a dream worth changing my overspending habits for until I finally found out about blogging. I wanted to be a writer someday, but I couldn't figure out how I'd ever get published. Too risky to give up my 6-figure day job! Then, last year I learned about blogging, and suddenly everything clicked into place! I saw how I could get my message out to people all over the world with very little investment -- if only I could stop my mad spending and embrace the polar opposite of the lifestyle I'd grown accustomed to.

I went cold turkey almost overnight when I finally found a dream worth pursuing: spending the rest of my life doing exactly what I love. My heart was on fire for this -- whereas, previously, the only incentive to cut spending and save was early retirement, which never excited me much b/c I thought, "And then what?" Now, living a ridiculously frugal lifestyle, especially by my former standards, is a genuine joy b/c I know it's paying for my dream come true!

Guest's picture
Carol

I was never able to keep an "emergency" fund that I could keep my hands off of. I tried all sorts of tricks--putting the money far away from me, keeping a change jar, having set limitations on what constituted an "emergency" and nothing worked until I discovered gold dollar coins.

To me, the gold dollar coins (not real gold, of course) are really cool. I picture me having a huge pile of them and running my fingers through them (as if they were gold coins). I like them so much I just HATE to spend them. So every time I go to the bank, I get about $10 in gold coins and add them to my collection. And there they sit. It'd have to be a really really bad emergency for me to spend them. But they're there if I need them! Great post!

Sarah Winfrey's picture

Shanel--that's an awesome story--I love how you went for it, no matter what it meant for the rest of your lifestyle.

Carol--I love those gold coins, too, but I'd never thought of using them like that. Fab idea, girl.