When your inner child throws a tantrum over the new budget you set, give her a time-out; instant gratification is for economic booms. If you’re still stuffing feelings under the pleasure of spending—i.e., retail therapy—guess what. It’s time to deal with them, especially if the pleasure of spending means the pain of having overspent.
There is a feeling people crave, when they spend outside their means, which is not about “I want that item.” They want a desire filled. They want to feel sated by the freedom to spend without constraint. And for a while, buying stuff allows that feeling. Until the bill comes due.
There is a better way to get peace around money: Stick to your cash flow plan.
How is a cash flow plan at all freeing? When a budget feels like confinement and domination, over your life, your choices and your freedom to have what you want, how do you get over the resentment? Step one is a reality check. Step two is a re-working of what freedom feels like. And step three is to create a cash flow plan that clearly incorporates everything you want.
Everything. You want to feel satiated. You want to allow yourself the knowledge that you can have everything you want to have. So allow it. But ask this key question: “Of what?”
Know What You Spend
If you want to spend $3,000 on a computer, put it into your cash flow plan. If you want to have a clothing allowance of $400 versus $200, great. Put it into your plan and see how it works out. Instead of spending on a whim because you feel constrained by your budget, create space for the items you want, and deal with them in a real, concrete way. Keep your budget fresh: Re-set your monthly allotments to match your priorities and preferences as they evolve.
Spending with a cash flow plan is about being 100 percent aware of your money 100 percent of the time. When you enter the items you want, and see that you’ll be negative $1500 for the month, you can create an action plan around it. What is important to you? On what will you spend? When you follow your plan, you recognize items you now will refuse to buy because they hold less importance than your priorities.
Get Ready to Feel
Here’s the kicker. When the feelings start to flow, you have to take that temper tantrum out for some air. If you are breaking the habit of spending blindly, get ready for the upset, feeling deprived, feeling really uncomfortable, and know that it’s part of the journey. It won’t last for long. When the rebellion hits and you want to spend outside the plan, go on a run. Take a walk. Get some air. Take a dinner break. Get out and do something to handle those feelings. Acknowledge them. Let them flow out of you. Then come back to the plan.
It’s like starting a diet in the morning, and by night you want to binge, you’re so mad at the constraint. You don’t know the experience yet of losing the five pounds, so you’re looking for the instant gratification of a cookie. But if you just wait, handle those feelings as you go along, and stick to your plan, you’ll feel much more satiated in the long run. You will experience a different sense of exhilaration: pride, accomplishment, the satisfaction that comes from providing for yourself.
It is not immediate. It takes about three to six months to get comfortable with your plan. But remember that it takes time to get used to any plan. Feeling uncomfortable is not indicative of the need to quit. It means you’ve been stuffing those feelings, and they are finally coming up.
Spend What You Want
When you take out the polarity of good behavior-bad behavior around money, it just is. Give your desires a concrete plan. Give room for your feelings to come up, and then redirect them. The ultimate goal is freedom, and knowing with absolute certainty that your financial needs will be met.
Originally published on GreenSherpa