Have you ever realized that your spending habits actually say something about you?! It’s true. Let me show you what I mean.
I have come to live a frugal life out of necessity. Not only do we have a large family to provide for, but we have faced our fair share of financial speed bumps along the way. You can read some about our financial challenges in Sometimes You Have to Sift Through the Dirt to Find the Gems, and you can even read about the lessons that I learned during a financial valley in Lessons Learned While in a Financial Valley over on Money Saving Mom.
If your life is anything like mine, you most likely experience various ups and downs when it comes to your finances. Things like cutbacks, layoffs, and even permanent job loss are simply a reality of the world we live in – especially the world of today, it seems.
It is because of these unexpected circumstances that we are often forced into adapting to a certain spending, or not spending, lifestyle. These adjustments can be so hard to make, and trust me, I know. These unexpected circumstances often shape us in monumental ways.
In reflecting over the past three weeks on this journey, I have spent some time examining my spending habits. I have discovered that there are reasons behind why we spend money – or why we don’t spend money. I think discovering these reasons are essential in making sure that our spending habits are healthy ones. Take a look at them and see where you fall…
We can spend or not spend money because we are afraid
We can cling to our money, gripping it tight, only letting it leave our possession through bloody fingers because we’ve lived through a time of great financial hardship. I think of those who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s. In general, those who experienced the great trials and tribulations of that time clung to what they had for the rest of their lives. Similarly, we can grip our money ever so tightly after experiencing a time of great strain. Likewise, we may spend money loosely because we are afraid that at any point in the future, we may not have it to spend. In both of these situations, fear can be the driving force behind how we spend or don’t spend our money.
Sometimes, we might spend money based on our emotions
Much like we can be emotional eaters, we can spend money in the same way. If we are feeling a negative emotion such as loneliness, depression, sadness, or even anger, we may look to quiet that negative feeling by buying things that we think will fill that void in our hearts and lives. Just as we can be emotional eaters, we can be emotional spenders.
Jealousy is something we all deal with at times, at least if we are being honest with ourselves, and it can be the motivation behind the way we spend our money
I wrote some about envy in my post called Taming Your Own Green-Eyed Monster, and I have yet to find a situation where we wear envy or jealousy well. Spending out of envy or jealousy comes back to the whole “keeping up with the Joneses” idea, and we may be spending money we don’t have in order to measure up to those around us – at least in our own eyes.
Similar to spending money in order to keep up with the Joneses is to spend money to achieve what we see as a certain status among our peers
We have be so concerned with how we look to those around us that we spend money in a way that maybe we shouldn’t. Things can never truly make us happy, and to throw money at things in order to appear a certain way is an effort that will forever be futile.
At times we may spend money or we may purchase certain things in an attempt to create the identity we desire
This is similar to buying things because we are jealous or in order to be seen in a certain light, but in this example we are seeking to create a certain status among only ourselves. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that to look to things to create our identity is greatly flawed. There is no way that we can buy any kind of identity. Our identity, when we are stripped away from everything else, is only rooted in who we actually are.
These past few weeks on the journey of Living Well and Spending Zero has left me with so much to examine and so much to reflect on. Take some time to truly examine the reasons behind why you do or don’t spend the money you have.
Once we know why we have the spending habits we do, we can adjust as necessary in order to foster spending habits that are healthy rather than unhealthy. If you’ve never really taken the time to examine much about the way you handle your finances, now is a great time to start!