Stop Spending and Start Investing

focus photography of person counting dollar banknotes

The list of things we waste money on in this life is outrageous.

And we’re not entirely to blame for this. Spending money is what our culture does. If I pick up a little something to treat myself here and there it’s okay, right? Everybody does it, right?

A COMPILATION OF THE LITTLE WAYS I AND MY CLIENTS *USED TO* SPEND MONEY:

  • I was always short on time. Rush rush rush = justified picking up a $6 coffee on the way to class.
  • A client was unhappy with her body, and hated the way she looked in her clothes = justified trips to the mall.
  • I DESERVED something for all my hard work at school = justified impulse purchases at the grocery store and online at any time of day.
  • A client was too exhausted by the end of the day to make a meal for himself and his family = justified ordering in.
  • I was constantly getting sick (bronchitis, ear infections, psoriasis flare-ups) = justified trips to Urgent Care to get antibiotics and other prescriptions to get better fast.
  • A client’s house wasn’t what she wanted it to be = justified trips to Home Goods / Anthropologie / somewhere with pretty things
  • I was overwhelmed + stressed = justified ordering supplements to support my gut and adrenals.
  • A client felt so overwhelmed, wound up, and unable to relax naturally = justified spending money on marijuana to calm herself down nightly.
  • I didn’t feel confident enough to stand in myself or my body = justified spending money on drinks at the bar… a lot.

We thought we were buying happiness. Trouble was, the kind of happiness that comes from emotional spending and impulse buys doesn’t last. Fast forward a few years, and we’d be looking at a lot of wasted money, and no happiness to be found.

This is so common for so many people. And things get even more (non-monetarily) expensive from there. Emotional spending comes from emotional disconnection, which breeds disconnection from family, friends, and partners, which of course lead to separation and further unhappiness.

woman sitting on bed while holding mug

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

There are a few 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 present (treat yo’ self) even if it isn’t your birthday or anniversary.

It’s a scientific fact that making small purchases and “gifting yourself” with stuff gives us a hit of dopamine – the ‘feel good’ chemical. This neurotransmitter surges when you’re considering buying something new—anticipating a reward. Sales, by the way, give us an even harder kick.

Many of us adopt the spending habits of our parents and peers. Keeping up with the Jones’ anyone?

Emotional spending is a Learned Habit. That which we repeat… we get really good at. Our brains creates pathways that engage a default response to emotional influences. So the more we respond to stress with shopping… the more we’ll respond to stress with shopping.

A collection of the above leads to one very unhappy bank account, and a sour relationship between us and our money.

 

So how do we get out of it?

WE HAVE TO GET CLEAR ON OUR VALUES.

Take some time to get clear on what you value in this one and only beautiful life. This is something I go through with people who sign up for Strategy Sessions (if you want to do one with me, sign up here).

the-habit-values-kelowna

Getting clear on our values shows us what’s really important. Our long-term goals become clear, which is important because our goals won’t be reached if we don’t start taking the (small, incremental, baby) steps to reach them.

A FEW OF THE THINGS I VALUE:

  • Life Experiences
  • Travel
  • Education
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Interpersonal Connection
  • Freedom from clutter (physical, mental, emotional, etc.)

It’s shocking how many of the purchases we make ACTIVELY GO AGAINST our values and long term goals. The only word I can think of to describe that feeling is: Ick.

 

Once you find your values, you can:

Align your purchases with those values.

 

The next thing we need to focus on is mindset. When it comes to little purchases, we have a real tendency to say:

Related image

and ignore how those little $5-$30 purchases added up in the lines of our credit card statements. But when it came to bigger purchases, we are stuck in the belief ‘I can’t afford that,’ thereby shutting the door to the real opportunities that come with investing in things we value.

This is the difference between victim mindset and responsibility mindset.

As a victim, we can’t afford the nice things, yet “needed” to spend money on the little crap that just gets us through the day.

In shifting to responsibility mindset, our investments align with a more awesome, goal-oriented version of ourselves.

One of my Yoga Health Coach friends committed to creating a practice of reviewing her purchases and bills every week. After doing this for 10 weeks, she had paid off $12,000, where for years she’d been living paycheck to paycheck. This came from literally just paying attention to her spending!

The same thing happened for that Yoga Health Coach’s sister. For years, she had a victim, or scarcity, mindset. She talked about going on vacations, but always ended up coming to the same conclusion: “I can’t afford it.” But as she started to change her habits and shift her mindset, she decided she would put a vacation on her credit card, and immediately set to paying it off in weekly payments. Whatever she could find. She took a look at the ‘stuff’ she was buying, and cut out some of the purchases that didn’t align with her values or her goal of paying off the trip (check out this fun calculator to see how much you could also save). She paid off $3k in just over a month. And now, she’s no longer accepting the old belief of “I can’t afford it.” She wants to experience life.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPENDING AND INVESTING

There’s a difference here. Spending doesn’t align with your values. Investing supports your goals and your growth. And the best investment you can make is in….

Yourself.

If the most successful investor in the world said so.... it's probably accurate.

If the most successful investor in the world said so…. it’s probably accurate.

THINGS I NEVER KNEW I SHOULD INVEST IN:

  • Body integrity + connection with my body
  • Habit evolution
  • Mindfulness
  • Movement
  • UNDERSTANDING OF SELF.

There’s nothing tangible there. It’s not a comfy couch or necklace. There’s nothing to show off… or so it seems at first.

But the returns on investing in myself in this way have been greater than any other gift, thing, or accomplishment.

  • Improved immune system = no more supplements, prescriptions, over-the-counters, or visits to the doctor
  • Optimal energy levels, clarity of mind = ability to perform & succeed = ability to make more money!
  • Feeling grounded, responding instead of reacting, and not taking things personally = more wealth of relationships
  • Healthy routines automated in my day = more time in the day. The ability to create new habits like meal planning & prep = saved on groceries
  • Acceptance of what is. Appreciation for the things I have = LESS Emotional spending = ACTUALLY SAVING MONEY

And wow, there’s something to show for it. I am a totally different friend, partner, and family member. I’m so much more present. I can offer so much more value to everyone in my life.

MY SPENDING HABITS NOW ARE AS FOLLOWS:

  • Buying things that align with my values
  • TRAVEL. Life experiences
  • An emergency fund, so I have the money for when the hot water tank or refrigerator breaks down
  • And yes, creature comforts are still there. But, going back to the values part, I take time with my partner to talk out purchases, and ensure we’re buying from a place that isn’t feeding an emotional shortcoming. We’re buying things and experiences that bring us an incredible amount of joy, and help us in reaching our goals. Recent investments include:
    1. A personal + business development retreat in Mexico
    2. Surfing lessons 
    3. A ski trip to Utah (with free lift tickets courtesy a friend who works there!)
    4. A trip home to see my family
    5. A gym membership

So ask yourself: Am I in a victim mindset, or a responsibility mindset?

It may be time to shift your mindset in terms of money and what it’s worth. In my Happy Healthy Habits program, we do a ton of work in shifting mindsets. Let this be your first practice in engaging a solutions-oriented mindset.

One of the best ways to do this is to talk to people who are already there. Who in your life has invested in themselves? Coaching, education, mentoring, learning… what is the feedback these people have for you? You can check out some of the feedback from my clients here.

silhouette photo of group of people on mountain

AND ONE LAST THING – WHEN YOU INVEST IN YOURSELF, MAKE SURE THERE’S A COMMUNITY ATTACHED TO IT.

There are a lot of courses out there that give you a lot of information. But information doesn’t equal transformation – and goals have an 80% higher chance of being reached when you work with others. Get into a community of like-minded individuals. Support others and be supported. The change happens so much faster. And you don’t want to miss out on those big, beautiful goals!

 

This post adapted from How to Waste Money by fellow Yoga Health Coach Carly Banks

4 thoughts on “Stop Spending and Start Investing

  1. Nicole Lyon says:

    This is so interesting! I always talk with clients about emotional eating and the dopamine response that we receive from food. But I have not considered the same response could come from the reward we feel when we get a sale! Very interesting read, I enjoy hearing your view on life 🙂

    Like

    • hadleegarrison says:

      Thanks so much Nicole! Yes, we get a lot of the same responses when we’re eating and when we’re buying new stuff — it’s all just for that temporary happiness hit. That’s why we have to work on finding other happiness hits that don’t actually decrease our happiness in the long-term! 🙂

      Like

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