Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Conscious spending - my judgement

Economical hedonist
Good personal finance is about the healthy management of your money. It’s when you master your money and not the other way around. It’s about keeping the internal financial adviser informed about your current life strategies. It’s also having regular meetings with your operations manager – your emotions.

We spend because we feel. Our feelings dictate the kind of purchases we make and how much we spend. Spending less than we earn is the ideal as is any other good habit there is to cultivate. If we were creatures of good habit we’d be in a better place spiritually.

Oops I did it again!
Conscious spending is the new buzzword for frugality I’m told. I may not be always frugal in my spending but I am conscious in my extravagance. All the frivolous things I’ve done in the name of money have had sound reasoning attached to them – at the time.

The lace dress embellished with sequins for a black tie event now looks positively garish; the red shoes that matched a particular outfit for a royal tea party now stand idle in the cupboard; the storage boxes that preserved things I wanted to keep forever now hold items that are no longer useful; novelty cake tins that I was going to use and impress family and friends with my baking skills have rarely seen the inside of an oven; ornaments that were supposed to add that je-ne-sais-quoi-to my home now look tired and dated.

Money can't buy me wonderland
Once time moves on you find that what had meaning previously has disappeared into the ether. We are agents of change so we change our clothes, tastes and minds. Change can be so powerful and subtle that it’s unnerving to people around us. They think we’re behaving out of character and too often we spend time “in character” just to live up to other people’s image of us.

The road to conscious spending is riddled with potholes known as debt and non-money sense.
I would love to say that I’ve been frugal most of my life but it would be a lie. I was hiding my head in the sand (of a sun-kissed beach in the Carribean!) and hoping that my spending would come right in the end.

I’m not a committed frugalite and I frequently fall of the wagon…on purpose. Life becomes too monotonous when you have to count every penny. I tried keeping track of everything I spent in neat columns and it revealed that my needs and wants were frequent and plentiful.

If life is for living then living means spending. Everything I want becomes a need and everything I need becomes a want. The best way to unscramble this conundrum is to want nothing and need no thing. That’s the healthiest way to live and in the moment.

So what about food and subsistence? If we only lived on the quantity of food we truly needed for optimum health our grocery bill would be slashed. Fruit, nuts and water are the most healthful and cost little.

Consciousness to me means re-thinking and re-inventing our life styles NOT cutting down or saving a few dollars here and there. I’m intrigued by people who opt for drastic rather than frugal. Take Adam Baker of or The Dennings of They’re travelling light having life adventures instead of deciding whether to cancel their cable subscription or upgrade their TV.

My financial profile is that I’m sub-consciously extravagant and consciously responsible. I don’t need a TV, cell phone, new shoes/clothes, bread, milk and eggs BUT my family do. Due diligence in my role as a parent forces me to sift through their wants, needs and desires. Each week I do battle with the household budget to ensure that my expenses are covered. Choosing to eat less to spend on a useful object or experience is constantly on my to-do list.

Frugality, conscious spending, tight-wad, spend-thrift are all judgements and I’ve been some of them. We’re starting on a negative path when we judge others. Better that we live up to our own standards of dignity and self-respect. I’ve known frugalities who are mean-spirited in their decision making and spendthrifts who are generous – they’re my personal judgements!

I’m an economical hedonist! I love pleasure seeking – some that don’t cost a thing and some that do. I hate labels as I’m somewhere in the middle – not too far to the left or right and not on the fence either.

Diva in disguise
I encourage good financial practice. I am gentle to those who feel weighed down. I am not hard on those who fall by the wayside. Each has something to learn through hard experience.  I know I’ve learnt more from my “bad” habits than the good. I am not smug as I know how easily self-esteem can take a tumble.

 I’m more of a hero than a zero and that’s through conscious effort. My spending will come right as I do but it’ll always be a work-in-progress. Achieving at high levels requires good judgement and none of us are born with it. I’m not a guru or a wise guy…what’s your judgement on conscious spending?



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