Oh, the money I’ve wasted!
When I think of all the things I’ve wasted money on over the years, it kind of makes my stomach turn.
I grew up as a pretty lucky kid, meaning I never really went without. My parents worked hard and provided well for our family. They were never frivolous with money, in any way. My mom probably leaned more in the direction of “tight pockets” than a “spender”.
As a young adult and very creative, stylish kid, I fell into morphing my young acting pursuits into role of costume stylist pretty quickly. This was when the film industry began to take off in Vancouver. The American companies were shooting a ton in Canada for the generous “Canadian discount” and there was NEVER a shortage of work to be had. I was great at what I did, and loved the freedom it provided me. Needless to say, I was making some GREAT moola at 21 years old.
As a young adult, making a s*** ton of money (or so I thought) and not really knowing what to do with it (investment wise) I spent it. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast, but in hindsight I would’ve done things very differently (like bought real estate in Vancouver)
Here’s a list of some of the things I spent money on:
• Trying to maintain my stylish image meant shopping for clothes, clothes and more clothes (including $600 + boots) Don’t even get me started.
• Being frustrated with my life situation post relationship, meant running away (not dealing with what was in front of me) and renting a Park Avenue apartment in NYC in the late 90’s (when my Canadian dollar was worth 60 cents US).
• Living in NYC while attending a theater school for a number of months, meant burning through my Canadian money at such a rapid pace I cannot even stomach to think about.
• Headshots, acting classes, gym memberships, expensive theater tickets and just the cost of living in NYC- duh!
• Burning the candle on both ends, justified eating out on a regular basis at very nice restaurants. Spending way too much money on nice wines can add up too.
• Always being in a rush, justified impulse buying and not keeping track.
• Working crazy production hours, often lead me to buying crap because …well …”I deserve to feel good”.
Now it doesn’t stop there…..
Once my husband and I got married, I officially moved to NYC and then proceeded to bounce back and forth between Vancouver and NYC - working there and spending here. You do the math. Never has the Canadian dollar (well maybe for a blip in 2012) been at par with the U.S dollar. Money burned! Ok….I WAS having a blast, but my financial situation was growing dimmer and dimmer. It wasn’t as easy to find styling work in NYC (now I was a little fish in a big pond) so I stuck with what I knew and it was exhausting, hard on my new husband, and just keeping me breaking even basically. However, I was still spending on things that had ZERO R.O.I. !!
So the past is the past and we all do things that may seem foolish, or a waste of time and definitely a waste of money when we’re younger. I’m sure most of you can relate in some way…or is it just me?
But, in the past ten years after having kids, moving to another big city and trying to keep up the pace, I can see clearly where I continued to waste money. It may not be on a Park Ave. Apartment in NYC but the day in and day out spending habits went something like this:
• Feeling overwhelmed with little kids meant buying myself treats daily because, again, “I deserve them- God dammit!”
• Feeling exhausted and run down justified my daily Starbucks run.
• Feeling depleted and sorry for myself meant spending money on things that were a temporary bandaid - like clothes, cute things for the kids and stuff for the house (which now I’m trying to get rid of)
• Either not working out enough, or working out too much, landed me in at the chiropractor at least once a month.
• I was stressed out, so I spent money on supplements, and the latest and newest health products and trends.
• I was feeling stuck, frustrated and suffocated. I knew I had a bigger purpose to fulfill but wasn't sure what it was. To avoid the pain it caused me on a daily basis I spent money on wine, nights out with the girls, eating out or ordering in.
I thought I was buying things that would make me happy or at least fill some void that I felt needed filling. The problem is that emotional spending and impulse buying doesn't last and surely does not fill voids.
Fast forward…a few years.
Doug and I definitely made a few smart moves financially as a team and one of them was buying and selling our sweet- as- pie Upper West Side Apt. in NYC in 2004. We were lucky to be able to play that market and then buy our home here in LA. That said, all of our expenses doubled moving to LA ie: earthquake insurance, 2 cars, 2 kids, house maintenance, health insurance and TAXES…the list goes on. Money started to become a real issue and the stresses started to compound. When I think of all the money spent on things that were suppose to solve a problem or make me/ us happy… again, my tummy churns.
Spending money is one of the easiest things to do, but spending it instead on things that actually enhance our lives is something we often don’t get a birds eye view on. The day in and day out spending habits of busy people, living active lives is often just taken for granted “oh one little Starbuck won’t hurt” or “I deserve these new shoes plus they’re on sale” or “I’ll valet instead of park because it’s easier”…the list goes on. Seriously, when we can account for every penny spent on a daily basis, it can be quite an eye opening and flat -palmed slap in the face, experience.
Listen, this is not saying that we have it all worked out… by a long shot. We still live in L.A and life is not cheap. Money is still a huge topic. That said, I know it would be waaaay worse if I was still spending money on things that mostly had no R.O.I. Not only that, I’d still feel overwhelmed and even more stressed out, Starbucks would be thriving while my kidneys were suffering, I’d still be spending $100 a pop at the chiropractor, and probably visiting more than once a month. I’d still be spending money on regular nights out and clothes I don't wear.
The emotional, and impulse buying came from an emotional disconnect. It came from wanting to make myself “feel better” by putting a bandaid on it. Even as someone that was teaching and practicing yoga on a regular basis, I still disconnected from that part of myself that maybe I was too afraid to listen to. The part of myself that was screaming to be heard and taken care of. It was easier to blame my circumstances on my husband, my kids, the cat and the weather, then take full responsibly for my own health, happiness and life.
How does this happen?
There’s actually a number of things at play here:
We live in an age of instant gratification. Unlike past generations, for us it’s considered totally normal to go out for dinner or buy yourself a l’ll some’thin, even if it isn’t your birthday. Spending money, means getting what we want- NOW! Our kids are learning this as “normal”- place the Amazon order and it shows up on your doorstep in 2 days - like magic.
It’s a scientific fact that making small purchases and “gifting yourself” with stuff gives us a hit of dopamine - the feel good chemical. The neurotransmitter surges when you're considering buying something new—anticipating a reward. We get excited at the idea of having that “thing” in our possession, our closet or in our house. We imagine how it would potentially make us feel or how others would view us if we had it (that new car or gym membership) Buying sh** can become a drug that we get addicted to. There’s an imagined promise that it will make our lives better in some way.
Many of us adopt or reject the spending habits of our parents and peers. Our money habits have been imprinted on us from when we were small in many ways ie: money = reward, status, value/ worthiness or money = fighting/divorce, sadness, loneliness, pain and suffering. This is a loaded topic, books have been written about it and lives determined by it. Another common theme is “keeping up with the Jone’s”….buying more toys to maintain a certain imaginary “status”.
Emotional spending is a learned habit. The more we repeat a habit, behavior or thought pattern, the more we re-enforce it. Your brain creates pathways that engage a default response to emotional influences. So the more you respond to stress with shopping… the more you'll respond to stress with shopping.
A variety of the above led to one very unhappy bank account, and a sour relationship between me, my money and my honey.
Just recently, I’ve had to get clear on a few things- my VALUES!
Getting clear on what I value in this one and precious life, is an exercise I’ve put myself through, and continue to do. If you haven’t done a values exercise, I highly recommend it. Your core values will most likely stay the same, but through the seasons of your life, sometimes what’s most important changes.
(Click here for a VALUES EXERCISE. Print it out and fill it in).
For example: family over career, freedom over responsibilities, experiences over material possessions, relationships over having to be right, doing what makes you happy over what you think you should do…….. What do you value most?
Beauty, Freedom, Financial security, Family, Friendship, Travel, Adventure, Love, Care, Nature, The Environment, Health, Art, Connection, Community, Abundance, Prayer, Joy, Inspiration, Fun, Truth, Honesty, Integrity, Entrepreneurship, Simplicity, spirituality, Wisdom, Justice, Perseverance, Prosperity, influence, HEalth, knowledge, laughter, self- expression, FAME…
Clarifying my values has been a pretty powerful exercise for me. It’s helped me to get crystal on what’s truly important at this point in my life. In doing so, I have a better idea of where I spend my time, my energy and my money.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT MADE MY TOP OF LIST:
Health and Wellness
Family/ Friends/ Community
Financial freedom doing what I love
Education- always be learning
Adventure, travel and life experiences
I wasn’t completely NOT investing in myself. I’ve spent lots of money on yoga teacher trainings, acting workshops and classes over the years. Looking back though, I don’t think the mindset was that I was investing in ME. Rather, it was one of, “I’m a yoga teacher/ actress and I need to always be learning more to become better. I was investing in my business and at that same time, I was learning and applying all the knowledge I gained to my own life and practice…and still do. As a yoga teacher, I’m lucky, as it’s really all part and parcel. As an actress, we never know if it’ll “pay- off”.
When I consciously began investing in myself was when I realized that I had to make some changes. I wanted to feel and experience my life more fully, more in integrity and with more connection to my desired future.
WHAT I WANTED WAS:
• Better daily routines and habits.
• Deeper body/ mind and spirit integrity.
• Less stress, overwhelm, and anxiety
• More clarity around purpose and dharma
• A deeper meditation practice
• Community of like minded people and inspiring conversations
• Less stuff- more quality over quantity.
First things first:
Let’s get some clarity on what truly matters to you. Often we have a vague idea and think we already know and assume that it’s already the way we’re living our lives. When you do an intentional practice around this stuff it actually gives you an opportunity to reevaluate and shine some light on it.
Click HERE to do a Value’s exercise so that moving forward you can:
Align your purchases with those values
Next step, is really to get down and dirty with how you think about spending. It’s so easy to rack up that Target bill with a bunch of s*** that we reaaalllyy don’t need or even want. “Oh what’s $10 on a new nail polish” or “I could use more Xmas crap in my house- the kids love it”. You know what I’m talking about. All these things ADD UP and when that credit card statement shows up every month, as it has a tendency to do, we don’t even remember what the hell we spent money on. We’re left staring at a whopping balance, and a possible battle with the spouse. On the flip side- when it comes to more expensive purchases that actually might really make a difference in our lives, our response is, “Oh it’s too expensive or I can’t afford that”. So what’s happening is we’re slamming the door on opportunities that might actually add real value to our lives and be investments that have some return value over the long term.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VICTIM MINDSET & RESPONSIBILITY MINDSET
This can be super uncomfortable for some of us to hear- I get it. As I write this article there’s uncomfortable feelings around a lot of this. If I take responsibility I have to actually face the truth of my finances and bring it to the table with my husband and get down and dirty. Does it mean that I can never treat myself again, or every penny I spend has to be accounted for to my partner? Not necessarily. The thing here is that we want to get a real handle on WHAT we are spending our money on and if it aligns with our values. Listen, treating ourselves sometimes is one thing, but on a regular basis, is another. In the end, we’re left with a depleted bank account and without funds to spend on the things that really and truly matter. When we do this, it’s easy to fall into “victim” mindset and feel that we can’t afford the price tags of things we might need that add value to our lives like education, experiences, travel, and investing in our self growth and evolution.
I read somewhere that if we don’t teat money like someone we care about- with respect, attention and appreciation it will not care to spend time with us. If we take it for granted, give it away easily and ignore it, it will pass us by and move onto the next person that does care. What’s your relationship with money? This is a LOADED topic and one that we will not delve deeply into here. Just start to ask yourself the “hard” questions. What do you want, but feel you can’t afford? What experiences do you want to have? What do you want to learn? How do you want to change and what do you need to do? Who do you want to spend time with? Pull out a journal and start writing. I’m doing this right next to you, always refining.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPENDING AND INVESTING
There’s a big difference here. Spending does not align with your values. Investing supports your goal, dreams and growth. The best investment you can make is in YOURSELF!
A FEW THINGS THAT I DIDN’T REALY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTING IN:
• Integrity with my body and how I want to age.
• Habit evolution and that I could change my habits that directly affect my life.
• Having a much better understanding of myself through a daily meditation practice.
• My own ability to evolve and realize my full potential.
• Being in a community of like -minded people that support my goals and are evolving together.
• Communities that reflect my own potential and I learn from everyday.
The returns in investing in myself in this way have been greater and had more long term impact than any other gift, purchase or even accomplishment I’ve had or done.
Here’s a brief list of a few of them:
• Confidence and trust in myself to take charge of my health, my relationships, my time, my career, my present and future.
• Healthier daily habits that support my body energy, clarity of mind, and connection to my own dharma (purpose).
• An understanding that I can be the kind of person I want to be by designing my habits and what I do everyday
• A deeper feeling of groundedness and less reactive to everyday life circumstances- a bigger perspective of my life.
• Connection to a greater source and what that means to me.
• More time -automation and awareness around healthy routines ie: meal planning and prep frees up time and saves money.
• A new found community of true friends and relationships that priorities growth and evolution and holds me accountable.
It’s from this place that I choose to move forward and show up differently in my relationships, my career, as a parent, in my community and beyond. The payoffs are SO MUCH better and have way more longevity and lasting impact then a new handbag (there’s also a place for a new handbag, don’t get me wrong :) or the latest new car or technology.
What I now choose to spend money on
• Buying things that align with my values!
• Helping others, supporting charities that align with my values.
• Learning experiences, classes, courses and coaches that broaden my insight and knowledge of myself and my potential.
• Experiences that enhance mine and my families lives and help us grow individually and together.
• I still love beautiful things, beauty is a value, but now my level of discernment around what those things are is much much higher. Quality over quantity.
• Putting a little extra money towards the boring stuff (mortgage, cars etc.)
• Of course there’s still spending on the creature comforts but they’re not as random. Instead they’re discussed, researched and chosen for quality, function, longevity (not including my new sheepskin rug in my bedroom- Xmas gift from mom) and that which brings us joy AND helps us reach our goals.
So ask yourself- are you in victim or responsibility mindset/?
Maybe it’s time to shift your mindset about money, spending and it’s worth.
In my “Be BOLD & THRIVE” program, we do a TON of work around changing our mindsets, and taking small steps towards shifting our perspective on many levels and in many areas of our lives. Let this be your first practice in working with a solutions- oriented mindset.
A good way to start is to talk to people that you know who already do this. Notice what people are spending their money on. What are their values, that you can see? Who do you know that is investing in themselves, not just their businesses or their families? Who is spending money on self -growth, coaching, mentoring and education. Ask them for feedback. Ask them why and what they’ve gained from investing in themselves. I can guarantee that they will be happy to talk about themselves and what they’ve learned.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…WHEN YOU INVEST IN YOURSELF, MAKE SURE THAT THERE IS A COMMUNITY ATTACHED TO IT.
The world is overflowing with on-line courses, it’s crazy!!! You can get information anywhere these days. Remember though, that information does not equal transformation. Taking notes, does not equal, taking action. Completing a course does not mean implementing the materials. Believe me I know. I now take part ONLY in online learning platforms that have a community attached. The importance and power of a community that shares, holds each other accountable and are desiring similar results, is the difference between money wasted or money invested. It’s proven that we are 80% + more likely to succeed when we are in a posse of like minded folks that have similar goals.