In the June issue of Success Magazine there is an article which poses the question: can you spend money only on essentials for one month? As written in the table of contents “No fancy coffee. No new clothes. No eating out. Nothing fun. Do you have the self-discipline to go a month without spending money on unnecessary items?” Wow…nothing fun?
I honestly don’t know if I have that kind of self-discipline. Thinking about it, here is what I come up with as “necessary”: basic food for me and my cats, prescriptions, soap and toilet paper, mortgage, utilities, gasoline for commuting to work, and my church offering. So that would mean for me foregoing my weekly dinner out with friends; three takeout coffees per day-black, no sugar; no purchased snacks during the day; no comic books, movies, or Amazon Prime video rentals; no impulse purchases; and so on. I admit that while I don’t buy a lot of new clothes (hardly any unless something wears out, in fact) and other household items, I also don’t pay a lot attention to my “nickel and dime” expenses. As an aside, that is clearly an outdated phrase!
I’m honestly not prepared to go a whole month on a no-spending spree. I will though commit to keeping detailed track of my expenses for a week beginning when I wake up tomorrow. Care to join me?
A little bit at a time will eventually add up to a lot.
We’ve all heard it: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always gotten.” Deciding to change your habits in favor of something that is beneficial-or at least less damaging-is about as easy as it gets. It’s actually changing that is tough.
You can read all the self-help books and magazines you want, but if you don’t act then all that reading didn’t matter.
You can make all the New Year’s resolutions and other self-promises you want, but if you don’t act then they were in vain.
You can set as many goals and targets as you can imagine, but if you don’t act then the thought was wasted.
The only way to change is to actually get out there, wherever your “there” is, and do it. Nike’s well known ad campaign from years ago was simple but on point: “Just Do It.” That’s a bit blunt. I prefer what Yoda told Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: Do or do not. There is no try.” And if you need help to “do”, by all means ask for it. We are all in this together.
Some days it just does not seem like anything will go right. Even if it’s just one thing that you did wrong, that one thing can overshadow anything good that also happened. I have been there recently, and I’m pretty sure you have been there at some point too. So here’s the thing: what are we going to do about it when-not if-it happens again?
Step One: recognize that the bad thing happened, and accept that fact.
Step Two: don’t sit around wondering “why?”, that can be dealt with later. Right now, concentrate on looking for a solution.
Step Three: remember that “this too shall pass”. The overwhelming vast majority of our mistakes and problems are not world ending.
Step Four: deal with the issue as best you can, with help if you need it, and move one.
I think that we humans collectively go out of our way to make things more complicated than they need to be. I recently read a quote from a 100 year old man who was born in abject poverty and went on to become extremely successful-and wealthy as well, the two are not always the same. He said “I saw no other option than to find the simple way to do things and then just do them. No questions. Not complicating it. I didn’t know better.”
So simple (no pun intended) yet so profound. Find the simple way to do something, then do it. For example, if you are decluttering, don’t spend time agonizing over each item. Instead make 3 boxes: keep, donate, and dispose. Just go through the items and put them in the appropriate box.
In my case, I’ve become quite fascinated with the tiny house movement. I have an idea for a smallish tiny-house inspired home for myself, and I’d like to build a tiny house and see if I can sell it. But I have been getting hung up on the idea that it must be built on an expensive trailer as seems to be the “industry” standard.
The chief advantages to doing it that way is that as “trailers” they are not taxed as highly and they can be moved around at will. Since I’m planning to sell mine, these don’t really mean much to my plans. So the simple solution will be to build it on pressure treated timber skids and leave transport up to the buyer. Another plus for me is the simple solution gets me off the fence and moving!
Our lives are guided by choices, from the moment we wake until we lie down at night. Get out of bed or sleep in. Have tea or coffee with breakfast. And so on, all day long.
Some choices are fairly unimportant, like what color socks to wear today. Other choices are fairly important, like whether to cross the street against the light. Some choices work (like crossing with the light). Others don’t (like argyle socks).
The trick is, to the greatest extent possible, to avoid making careless decisions. Scarf down a couple cheeseburgers and a large fries for lunch, or engage in some thoughtful eating so you are nourished rather than just fed. Purposely set aside 30 minutes out of your busy day for exercise, or watch another half hour re-run of some insipid situation comedy.
It comes down in the end to making choices that work for the better. The better you get at making good choices, the less you will want to make bad ones. I know this because I’ve been there.