Don’t Let Your Money Spend Itself – Build The Clubhouse!
February 22, 2017
Let’s start with a story about spending money:
My little-but-taller-than-me brother and I had our first joint venture planned when we were approximately 13- and 12-years-old. We had some money saved up and were earning more money toward our dream of building our very own clubhouse behind our main house on Star Lane.
If I recall, we’d drawn it out on paper—in great detail—and even scoped for the materials needed. We priced out lumber, cement, sheetrock, and the other supplies and were on track to really make this happen. [With any luck, said tall brother will read this post and let me know if I’m off-base in any of my recollection.]
But before we broke ground, I spent my part of the money. On what, I cannot tell you. Based on the consuming habits of my adolescence, I can almost guarantee a portion of it was spent on sugar (treats), some of it went to cheap clothes, and some to the “critical” entertainment needs of a fun-loving teenager.
It’s possible it went toward admission at the sketchy parking lot carnival which came to town during our State Fair and other events like the CNFR rodeo. Both of these were big deals in our Montana town, at least to me. I vividly remember several rides on “The Zipper”, a germ-infested, death contraption I wouldn’t get in for any amount of money now.
Basically, during my younger years, I squandered my money and likely the clubhouse money on dumb stuff, Often I spent just to do what my friends were doing. Never-mind that said friends were likely being funded by their parents. My still-forming frontal lobe didn’t think of such things. I just wanted desperately to keep up with their spending habits.
Regardless of what actually that money went toward, I know it was not noble or substantial. I know because I still remember feeling guilty that I was the main contributor to the collapse of our dream.
We let our money spend itself:
This might seem like yet another pointless story. However, you should be getting to know me pretty well by now and know that I love allegories/parables/life-lessons-from-stories. I would hate to disappoint, so, here comes the life-lesson.
We are all like adolescent Emily in that we have big things we want. We have figurative “club houses” which might translate to building a realhouse, buying land, starting a business, retiring early, traveling, starting a non-profit, or donating heavily to charity. We can so easily, however, get caught up in letting life live us and letting our money wander away toward proverbial crackerjacks and Zipper rides.
How we lose it, little by little:
We find that our dream funds never start or are depleted by…who-knows-what. A little bit of your money slips away as you spend like impulsive 13-year-old Emily would’ve done. You over-order at a restaurant, you impulsively add something to your cart on Amazon based solely on reviews and a “justified” emotional need, you don’t realize that your internet bill was higher than usual and then don’t feel like making the effort to get it straightened out.
Or, maybe you don’t plan out your groceries very well and end up overbuying and overspending. It’s $6 here and $25 there and a $13 in the middle and maybe an unexpected $50 tomorrow. These small amounts of money really, really add up. And at the end of 6-months, your dream or goal is as far away as ever.
And when this continues to happen, you trust and like yourself and your spending patterns even less. And you add a tally mark to your mental blackboard under the heading of “I am terrible with money and this is the way I must live forever.” I agree with you that that is quite the heading!
Spend according to your life goals
None of the above feelings are happy feelings. At all! Budgeting is the answer. It is what respects your life goals and is the plan for you to spend accordingly. Remember, a budget goal is something you told you that you want. Budgeting is having a purpose to your life and spending accordingly, not boringly.
Emotional spenders spend according to their emotions (shocker). We spent to impress people who don’t matter or who actually don’t care about our spending or debt load. We buy stuff to make us feel less bored or less lonely. Or, we try to suppress guilt about overspending by buying stuff. Don’t you think emotions have had the reigns of your money long enough?
There is a part of you that knows what’s best for you and has some pretty incredible things in life for you to accomplish. This part of you can drive the chariot a lot straighter and more directly to your goal. What’s that awesome adage?
“Never let what matters most be at the mercy of that which matters least.”
Something like that. Well said! And if what matters most to you is actually building a clubhouse with your brother, drive on and let it be awesome.