I felt like a KANJOOS.
That’s an Indian word for “miser/scrooge/stingy”.
It was a Friday night and I had gone out with friends.
We’d seen a show, and headed on to a pub after for a bit. I was acutely conscious of the fact that my wallet was lighter than a hummingbird, and that I really couldn’t afford to be out spending like I was.
Having eaten before going out and being an occasional drinker, I’d decided to conserve my limited funds – music, dancing, friends were all I needed that night.
But here was the dilemma – how could I keep this up?! I didn’t want to stop socialising completely, but I just couldn’t afford it anymore. So how to go out with my friends, to dinner, the movies, an occasional night out dancing, and not blow a hole in my already strained-to-the-max budget or be seen as a cheapskate?
As everyone around me pounded back the pints, I swayed to the music, my hips feeling as restricted as my thoughts… “Is this how I want to live my life, always calculating how much money I have left, what I can afford to spend tonight, wishing I could just not THINK about it anymore?”.
In India, when people go out, it’s quite different from the North American way. In the US, Canada, even NZ, people pay for their indulgences individually.
That way, no matter how much money one has to spend, everyone can go out and have a good time, within their personal financial constraints.
Want a $30 lobster and $10 glasses of wine? Go for it.
Can only afford a $7 quesadilla and beer? No problem.
Ultimately, you’re in control of your money, so you can have as expensive or inexpensive a night out as you wish.
Whereas in India, when the bill comes, it’s split equally. So if you have one $7 drink and everyone else eats + drinks $30-$40 worth, it doesn’t matter. You all end up paying the same. Which is great if you’re flush, but adds up if you’re skint.
If you ask to pay just for your share, you’re looked at as… cheap beyond cheap.
But that’s not the point of this wee background story.
There’s no right or wrong way here. It’s what I realised by pondering these differences, that made me write. A realisation I’d been ostrich’ing a fair bit!
OUTING MYSELF.. HERE GOES!
I saw how I’d save paisas, and blow dollahs. Spend $3000 on bargain clothes shopping one year (under $30 an item), but refuse to buy the $150 dress I’d coveted for 3 years. Spend $200 – $1000 on adventure trips like white water rafting and Everest Base Camp, but avoid spending $40 on a haircut. Loan $1500 to a roommate who couldn’t pay her rent, then let it all go instead of accepting $750 when she refused to return the full amount. Spend $100 on a fancy NYE party, but wince at chipping in $20, cos it was triple ‘my share’. Um..
WHAT the WHAT!?
Facepalm. The very definition of…
Penny wise, pound foolish.
- Being careful when it comes to spending small amounts of money, but careless when spending much larger amounts.
- Focusing on minutae, while losing sight of the big picture; obsessing over tiny inconsequential efficiencies while glaring inefficiencies are going on elsewhere.
No wonder I felt so small and petty.
‘Cos this ISN’T about money at all.
It’s about ME.
My stories around money. My beliefs about money. My perception of my self worth and deservingness. Scarcity thinking vs abundance thinking.
Yes, you see, penny wise pound foolish is not just an ATTITUDE.
It’s a belief.
And it was hurting me.
Was it really about the money? Or was something deeper at play here? Isn’t MONEY itself nothing more than life force energy?
Was I really a tightwad? Was I a frugal person who thought it was unfair to pay more than ‘my share’ of a night out and always would, no matter how much I had? Was I a generous person temporarily obsessed with the hole in my pocket? Would I be more relaxed about spending if I had more money? I, who once offered a friend all my savings to help her through a tough time (she ended up not taking it, but you better believe I meant it), who would fly across the world if someone needed me, what makes me buy the three $20 pair of shoes instead of the one $200 pair I really want?
I wondered.. who am I and what IS my relationship with money?!
For a long time, I had a great one. I made enough, saved enough, had enough, gave generously, blew all my pocket money as a kid on gifts for my parents, sponsored a child in Africa, held it lightly, manifested it like magic!
So why didn’t it last? Why the ups and downs over the years?
Because of certain other money beliefs that weren’t serving me.
Beliefs like… money doesn’t grow on trees. You have to work hard for it. Money causes families to break apart. You’ve got to watch your money or people will try to gyp you out of it. Easy come easy go. Money is fickle. I will never have enough. Money makes you selfish and materialistic. The more you have, the more you waste instead of helping people. You can’t trust people. Money isn’t that important, it’s only money. I can’t afford ___. And so on.
Beliefs that were so deep rooted that no matter how good life was, they’d pop up to create a mess and bring me back to what I was familiar with – struggle.
If you’re like me and most people, you’ve gone through life with certain money behaviours and beliefs without ever knowing why or what they are.
You’ve never examined your relationship to money. You’re not aware of how much money or thoughts of it control your life and experiences. Or you are, but haven’t done much about it.
Whether you’re rolling in it, always working for it and never having enough, coming into it easily and spending just as freely, broke and in debt, whatever your situation, if you’re happy with it, great.
If not, then do something about it. Here are 4 steps you can take today to start you off.
1) Become aware of your money stories.
This affects everything. Everything. If you don’t know what they are, how can you change them?
2) Then, be honest. With yourself. Your partner. Friends. Family. Tell the truth – I would love to go to ___ and do ___, but I don’t have the money for it / am choosing to lay low / paying off my debts etc. Authenticity, baby!
If they are true friends, they will understand and you can still do low key activities with them.
If you’re broke, remember it’s only a situation – not an indicator of your self worth. There is NO shame in admitting it. Some of the world’s richest people have been bankrupt over and over again and landed on their feet!
FYI, If someone treats you as less than because of your bank balance, LOSE them.
3) Get to work on your money beliefs – examine them, challenge them.
Be willing to do what it takes to start changing them.
When you come to love and appreciate money, instead of hating or needing it desperately, you won’t be ruled by it anymore. Instead, you’ll see it as a means to an end and change your relationship with life for the better.
4) Change your language.
Stop saying you’re not good with money, poor, broke, etc. Start seeing yourself as thriving and good with money, say you’re getting better with it if you can’t say you’re great with it with conviction! Where your words go, your thoughts follow, and from that you will act in ways that push you up or pull you down.
Money is a topic people just don’t talk about, that’s why it ends up owning us instead of vice versa. To create a healthier life, you must have a healthy relationship with money. Even if you don’t discuss it with anyone else, at least be honest with YOURSELF!
Stop being an ostrich – get your head out of the sand so you can get right with your money story. Write the next chapter of your life the way YOU want it.
And don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging there asking HOW – I’m going to help at least one of you!
If you’re ready to stop letting money be a source of pain in your life and be in charge of it, you could win a copy of Kate Northrup’s book ‘Money: A Love Story, Untangle Your Financial Woes and Create The Life You Really Want’.
Simply leave a comment below telling us your money beliefs / what you want to change, and share/like/tweet this post! Cheers!
I’ll draw a winner at random on February 10th, 2014. As for my own relationship with money, let’s just say it’s a work in progress ;).
Hi! I’m Tia. Multi-passionate Sparklepants, Life Lover, Curator of Awesome. I run this website featuring kickass inspiration to help you sparkle through life, no matter what! Click here to ignite your Inner Sparkle — that shimmery part of your spirit that says YES to courage + connection, and NO WAY to ‘shoulds’ + restrictions.
Main pic credit: Tax Credits via flickr.com.