If money is freedom, what if you lived like you were already free? Sounds kind of new age-y, but I’m going for something more concrete than a concept. I’ve been playing with breaking down the thought, “if I just had ___ dollars for ___ activity, I could be happy.” What if I just did the activity? Could I save money? Is it possible that, if I did what I truly wanted to do, I’d spend less?
In my observation, people spend like they eat, out of emotion. Could it follow that if we’re doing things we’re emotionally fed by, we spend less? I’ve observed that, if people are doing what they really want to be doing, the activity is usually nurturing in some way. And it is most often in relation with other people. For the next seven days, I’ve decided to do what I absolutely love to do at all times, and see how it changes my financial picture.
There’s a trick here, though, so I’m digging a little deeper. I love to go out to eat. But if I spend seven days doing that, I’ll go into debt $600. So I’m asking, “What do I love about going out to eat?” I love spending the time with my girlfriends or my husband. I love luxuriating in each other’s company, and I love eating good food. It’s the luxury of time and connection I crave.
Fulfill the Desire Affordably
For the next seven days, when I get the urge to go out, I am going to consider what craving I am trying to fulfill, and then will try to find a way to achieve it without spending on dinner. Instead, I’ll head to the market to pick up cupcake mix, and invite my girlfriend over to make cupcakes together. Or we can pack the cupcakes and take a walk to the park that overlooks the ocean. Or we can skip the cupcakes and head to a hip hop class together.
The exercise is to question, what do I really want to be doing? To actually go out and get served at a restaurant and pay money for it? Or to connect?
I may run into a few realistic obstacles. For instance, what I would really love to do on a sunny week day afternoon is take my kids swimming at the university pool. It would cost me $0, and would be time well spent. What I would likely end up doing instead is close the laptop, go to Peets, buy coffee and a cookie, later, buy chips and guacamole for the office meeting, and then pick up food for my family’s dinner on the way home because I’m running late. Easily $100 more than I would spend at the pool.
Do the Life Math
I wonder if my colleagues would mind my absence? If you can’t leave your commitments to do what you’d rather do, tabulate the numbers. It may be time to introduce some balance into the equation if it’s costing you more to be where you don’t want to be … maybe with that other concept I hear all the time, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” That sounds like freedom. What if you lived for one week as if that were really true?
Originally published on GreenSherpa