We love to judge how other people spend their money. One of the biggest hesitations people have about talking to a Financial Planner is that they are going to be criticized. The other day I went to a book signing where people were asked to admit what they love spending money on. Several people shouted food, travel and online shopping. Hearing people proudly talk about what they love to buy made me think – who are we to say anything is a waste of money when we have no idea how that person feels?
My Latest Purchase
When I was a teenager I had braces for a little while. Due to some financial and business related reasons I wasn’t able to finish my treatment. This led to some pretty expensive dental issues that may not have happened otherwise. An advertisement in Back Bay Station for Candid caught my attention and I decided to check it out. They are a company that makes clear aligners for teeth for under $2000. They have a location in Boston so I stopped in to check it out. They put a mouth stretcher in that looked like something out of the movie SAW and took pictures of my teeth. After about a week I got an email back saying I’d be a good candidate treatment. It also showed me 3D images of my teeth now and potential results after 20 weeks. My not quite perfect teeth have been bothering me for over 20 YEARS. A measly 20 weeks is nothing compared to 20 more years, right? So, I decided to go for it.
What Are We so Afraid of?
Even though I was pretty excited about this I didn’t want to tell anyone. No one wants to hear someone they love tell them they made a stupid decision. There was no hiding the giant box of aligners that showed up at the door so I had to fess up about my purchase. This made me think of what I heard Mel Robbins say recently:
If you have a problem that can be resolved by action, it isn’t a problem.
With that in mind, this is how I explained my decision to my husband. My smile has made me self-conscious for more than half of my life. I’ve decided to finally fix this and found a way to straighten my teeth in less than six months. There may be some other great side effects from it too. Since I will need to wear them 22 hours a day I will have to meal plan better and snack less. I also will need to stop drinking coffee all day long. I’m so excited to get started. While he might not have thought I needed this at least he understood where I was coming from. It also makes it harder to say something is a waste of money when you know why it isn’t a waste to them.
What I Consider a “Waste of Money”
One way to find room in your budget to do the things you really care about is to take an inventory of your spending. Identify the places you spend that:
- You don’t love
- You don’t use
- Matter to other people but not you
Do you “donate” to a gym that you never attend – but maybe haven’t cancelled because they make you do it in person? When you go out with your friends do you spend more than you want to and hate yourself the next day? Those are areas you can take control of now. Think about what you want your life to look like and address the spending that is sabotaging your progress. Once you start using your money to support your goals it will become easy to say no to the things that don’t matter to you. Read this for more on how I make those decisions.
What is your favorite thing to spend money on? Have you ever hidden a purchase from someone you love because you were afraid they would judge you? Let me know how you handled it in the comments!