In each of us, there is an emotional shopper of varying degrees. Some of us are better at recognizing when our emotions cloud our good judgment while others are not. I found the best way to make sure my emotions aren’t guiding my purchases is to have goals.
I happen to love goal-setting, but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Some equate goals to more stress, more pressure and the potential to fail. This is not how I want you to think about your financial goals.
My father taught me money was a gift. But when I look around, I see very few people who treat it as such. There are many negative emotions tangled with money—guilt, hate, power, greed, jealousy, etc. But I was taught to view money as a gift that I could use to bring joy to myself and others.
But, in order to do this, I needed to set goals that aligned with my values. Once I had goals, then money decisions would come easily and without regret. Money would no longer control me, and now I could use my money in a joyful way that honored my values.
What Matters to You?
Think about what truly matters to you. What are the things you want to do and would regret not doing or having? These are your goals and you should feel personally invested in achieving them. Make sure these are things you want and are not fulfilling other people’s expectations.
Too often I see people chose goals that others suggest for them or to keep up with Joneses. You should feel genuine excitement for your goals. Otherwise, you might abandon your goals when temptation strikes, because they were not important enough to you.
The Two Most Important Questions
Your goals give your money purpose and act as a barometer. When you find something you want but don’t need, slow down and ask yourself:
- Will this bring me closer to achieving my goal?
- Or am I feeding an emotion?
These two simple questions have prevented me from buying things that I would have regretted later and kept me focused on achieving my goals. Remember—you are not depriving yourself anything when you chose to honor your goals and values.
Goals = Financial Freedom
Many have successfully changed old behaviors, habits and mindsets to achieve financial freedom and others are diligently working towards it. Money is emotional and I believe those who do not recognize their emotional triggers will have a greater chance of falling back into old habits.
Financial freedom takes a lot of hard work to obtain AND maintain. Some say once they earn it, they will never return to their old destructive habits. I don’t disagree with their intent, but I also know it will be much harder for them succeed long-term without goals to balance those times when their emotions get heightened. It then becomes very easy to justify a purchase when you don’t have anything to weigh it against. If you want to be financially free, then you must have goals.
We set annual save, spend and share goals as a family and individually. Over a favorite meal, we decide how we’re going to use our family money and who we are going to share our money with throughout the year. It unites us as a family when we work towards achieving a common goal together and gives me a better answer than “no” when the girls get the “I wants”.
Financial Literacy is Within Your Reach
We all make money decisions every day and understanding where we are now, what causes us to spend or not spend and having goals helps us make make mindful choices. Becoming financial literate doesn’t happen overnight, but the end result of financial freedom is well worth the effort.
What are your goals? What motivates you to not spend your money?
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