I like stuff. A lot.
We all have that something which causes our heart rate to go up and that little voice in our head saying “just get it”. It may be the newest cell phone that you are willing to wait 3 days in line so you can get it 18 minutes before that poor guy who wasn’t willing to go hard or go home. It may be a purse that looks awesome but can only hold 2 quarters and “ah” key. It may be the latest shoes that are proven to make you jump faster and run higher (yup, that’s right). Think about it for a second and be honest with yourself – what do you have to have that you really don’t….have to have?
I am allowed to call you out because I too had a few things that I would buy before I had gas in the car or even food in my belly – Gadgets. I don’t know if it was my love for Inspector Gadget as a kid or the Sharper Image magazines that I borrowed from every flight I had been on, but I needed it. Nevermind, I wanted it. I was that guy that would buy a television and tell my friends all of the specs that I had memorized from the side of the box. “Yeah, she is a 60″ LCD with 60mHz refresher rate, fiber optic P Ram, and 6 HDMI ports”. I had no idea what any of that meant at the time, but I figured since I was going to have an intimate relationship of payments with this television for the next 18 months, I may as well get know more about her. I’m still talking about the TV.
I tell you all of this because I want to paint the picture that I wasn’t always good with money. Far from it actually. I was completely normal when my life was forever changed in 2011. I learned a lot that year – personal finance habits, how to get out of debt, how to budget, how to work on our marriage, and how to behave with our money. These were all life changers for my wife and I, however it wasn’t the most important lesson from that year. What changed us forever:
According to Webster’s Dictionary, contentment is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. LAME. It goes way beyond that! It is a shift in the way you view….everything. The way you view yourself and your surroundings. It is a shift that starts in your mind and ends in your heart. It is the feeling you have when you realize you already have it all. You realize that life is more about life and less about stuff. Think about how happy you were when you drove home in your brand new car! You were probably floating on a cloud, eating warm cookies with ice cream, and singing songs about rainbows . That was an amazing feeling, right? How was that feeling about a month later sitting in traffic on the way home from work? Stuff is awesome, but it doesn’t bring us prolonged happiness. You need contentment.
When you find contentment, you will find yourself starting to win in every aspect of your life. Your money will surely improve, but the things you weren’t prepared for will improve too. Money fights will start to go away, you will feel like a better friend, a better co-worker, and a better parent. People will gravitate towards you because contentment gives off a scent that could actually be bottled up and sold as Contentment by Peach (starting at $97 a bottle) 😎 Your happiness will increase, you start actually living, and you’ll grow 2″ – 4″ taller. Okay, that last part isn’t completely accurate, but you get the point. Here is a simple formula to understand:
Contentment + You = Awesome Life
Steps towards Contentment and Money
- Let go. I want you to have nice stuff, but I want to you have real contentment first. Once we finally let go of the desire to want new and expensive everything, we were able to relax. This is why I drive a piece of crap and why we no longer have cable. This is how we were able to really start living on less than we make and how we started to build wealth. I don’t think having nice stuff is wrong at all – but when you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, getting out of debt, and trying to get back your life and your money – let go until you get there.
- Give. We have had a green vertical line in our family room television for 2 years. We saved up money to finally purchase a line-less television! However, at the same time we came across a family that didn’t want any money – they truly needed it. I am not superman, and actually took half of a millisecond to think TV or family 😥 : In the end, we gave away our television fund and it has been one of the best things we have ever done with our money. A television or changing a family’s life forever. Hmmmmm….why is this hard again?
- Be seen. Be seen in something out of the ordinary. When contentment is worn on your sleeve, humility starts to
sweatglow from your pores, and this causes an increased level of humility. When we sold our luxury car and bought a used Kia, we became seen. Some one nick-named our car The Lawnmower. It stung a little, but today we still call it by that name. Our contentment with driving is demonstrated by The Lawnmower and our other piece of crap! In 10 Simple Ways You Can Keep More of Your Money, you’ll read how my wife spends 5 days a week on television in front of millions of people. She also wears dresses that are $25 or less and is dang proud of it too! I mention this all the time because people think it is crazy she shops at Target and Kohls when they would expect her to be at Nordstrom and Saks. Contentment is fashionable too!
- Count your blessings. Realize that money, stuff, and shiny rings will bring you extreme happiness – and then go away in a blink of an eye. It never lasts forever, so why not focus on what will. This is very easy if you have kids – “I wuv you Daddy so mach” is probably the greatest thing you will ever hear as a dad. What is the greatest thing in your life (please don’t say my TV) and focus there.
- Say thank-you. Whatever you believe or don’t believe isn’t necessarily the focus here. Just simply say thank-you. We thank God. Our life is awesome! We joke around telling our son that if we weren’t us, we would sign up to be us! I come home everyday to extreme wealth that is valued well beyond anything that money can buy. Thank-you.
Personal finance is only about 20% math, and that math is actually 5th grade math. The 80% is our behavior and I’ll say that almost all of the behavior portion is tied in with contentment. Let go. Give. Be seen, count your blessings, and then say thank-you. It is worth it – I promise.
Be good to yourself, your friends, your love, and BE GOOD TO YOUR MONEY!