Why Your Mindset About Money Determines Your Fulfillment With Life

In general, there are two kinds of things you can buy in this world. Things that appreciate over time and things that depreciate over time.

The difference between these two is a major one. But often, we make the wrong choice and spend our money on things which do not truly better our lives. We take our time to work and then toss away that hard earned cash on things that rot and rust.

Just think for a second about how you feel when you buy tickets to an event.

You feel excited about how fun the event will be. You are intent on enjoying the experience and being present. Afterwards, you feel happy that you went out and did something which impacted you.

This is why people go to concerts, its not just for the music. They go for the experience of being around so many like minded and high energy individuals.

Contrast this with what happens when you buy an iPad. Yeah you are happy about the purchase. You like your new toy and its fun to use. But over time it becomes just another thing you own and expect to have around. It loses it’s magic. It becomes background noise to your life. When you do this too many times, you start to end up with a bunch of useless junk.

“The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden in Fight Club

Now, I’m not saying you should skip buying things, especially if you need them. I just want to emphasize that each purchase should come after a moment of reflection. Make every purchase mindfully. Recognize that in some way, whether it be in time or money, you are trading part your life for this object or experience.

I look at it by asking myself the question, “is this purchase going to drastically improve the quality of my life?”

If I can’t answer that with a resounding yes, then it is a signal to me that should probably think twice about buying whatever I am looking at.

Now, not everything that you run through this little test is going to be an investment. You could easily spend the money to get a new iPhone, claiming it improves your life, when you really didn’t need the extra battery life. But the key here is that you are thinking about why you bought something and its implications on your life.

You will still make dumb purchases, but you can use this tool to limit them. You can also use it to refocus on things that will improve your life. When you think about how a purchase will help improve you, it reminds you to take that purchase more seriously.

So, what does this have to do with running out of money.

Well the reason why I wanted to highlight this is because WHAT you spend your money on is directly correlated with how you feel about the expense.

For example, I just spent the majority of my savings to book a 19 day trip through Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. I am doing this as a chance to learn about new cultures and better my understanding of the world.

If I had spent that money on clothes, or even a car, I would likely have buyers remorse. Because those items are the kind of purchase that degrade over time. On the other hand, my trip to Southeast Asia is an investment into myself. Its an adventure, and therefore, I don’t feel fear about the amount I spent on it. Its a search for understanding, so I learn more about the world we live in.

However, this is not the norm. Often when a person spends a lot of money, they feel unfulfilled. This is because they are buying the wrong package. Going broke for a new TV is more compelling than going broke to travel because it is immediate. The catch there is that you’re not really gaining anything long-term, because the TV is zero sum. Once you have it, thats it. Every day you own it, it is worth less.

On the other hand, the trip is an opportunity to learn and grow. It will push you out of your comfort zone and force you to learn things. Even if your trip is horrible, it teaches you how strong you are. It shows you that the worst possible situation has a silver lining. The TV only allows you to “live” vicariously through other people, it doesn’t actually allow you to LIVE. An experience is always worth more when it is firsthand.

Lets say you take trip to Japan, where you learn about a vastly different culture and your life is never the same. This trip might be a small chunk of time in the grand scheme of things. It might have been confusing to not understand the language. It might have sucked to realize that you don’t like Japanese food.

But I bet that the trip made you more self-reliant. I bet that the trip forced you to look at who you are as a person and reconcile that with how you fit into your culture, and how that culture compares to Japanese culture. Travel works like that, it opens your eyes. It reveals to you information you couldn’t get out of a book. The best part is that it always works.

Think of the last time you travelled somewhere and got nothing out of it.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The point is, when you spend your money on things that enhance your life, you don’t feel the fear of going broke so strongly. Sure its there, but its more muted, because you know the cost will be worth the benefits down the road. You are transported from the scarcity based mindset, to the confidence based mindset.

I’m not saying that you should spend all of your money irresponsibly. Just be more mindful of what you buy. If you are going to go broke for something, do it for an experience that will really be worthwhile. Do it for something you would brag about to any living person. Not for some debaucherous trip that you would be ashamed to tell your future spouse and children about.

I’ll leave you with the first part of a poem from Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee, you can find the full text here.

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and
Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and
Its purpose in the service of your people.”

 

 


If you like this content, feel free to share it. You can also engage with me on Twitter @paulrhobus, or email me at hobus.paul@gmail.com.

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