What is your relationship with saving money? And I don’t mean how many dollars and cents you save (or don’t save) every month. It’s more- How do you feel about savings? What doesn’t feel good about saving? What about saving is the “hard stuff” for you?
One of my favorite bloggers and all around delightful person is Havi Brooks over at The Fluent Self. Yesterday she wrote about money and savings and why it feels so hard to do something that is for all intents and purposes really good for you (and future you).
She talks about Conflicted Wanting- wanting something or wanting to DO something, but simultaneously having a part of you push back and try and prevent you from achieving it. Relationships are complex, and our relationship with money is draped with all sorts of confusion.
Our relationship with money sometimes feels like a zero-sum game, all or nothing, win and lose. When you save money your future-self wins, but it feels like you are losing something right now. You save $50 for the down payment on a new car, but even if you’ve worked your budget so that saving isn’t impacting your daily life, it still feels like there’s something else you could have done with that money today.
And it’s okay to feel that way. To quote from Havi’s post
We [can] practice giving legitimacy.
It is not unusual to think you want something with all your heart and still have parts of you who resist it.
It is okay to want something and not want it at the same time.
We all self-sabotage like crazy. We all have residual doubt and experiences of pain that accompany desire. I remind myself: This is normal and human and nothing is wrong with me.
[Julie’s note: pain such as… I really want to buy this grill for summer, but can’t afford it because I’m saving for a car OR pain such as… last time I tried to save I had to use it for emergency medical bills instead of my real goal: paying for a community college certification program OR you fill in an example]
We [can] ask curious, loving questions.
“Are there any potential negative consequences that I can imagine resulting from this thing that I want?”
“Who gets hurt if this happens?”
“Which parts of me are not on board with this?”
(Thanks, Havi, for the above quote!)
To have a relationship with our money we have to treat ourselves and our conflicted thoughts with respect, not be overly critical of ourselves (WHY CAN’T I JUST SAVE? WHY AM I SO BAD AT THIS? SHOULDN’T I HAVE GROWN OUT OF THIS BY NOW?), and ask ourselves what that voice is trying to tell us.
Make a list of what makes you feel good about saving.
Make a list of what makes you feel bad about saving.
And then respectfully to yourself try and reconcile the two sides. You can work towards not only saving the amount you’ve determined you need to save to meet your goals (3 months emergency savings, money for a car, home, education, or even money for your son’s 16th birthday), but also work towards feeling better about the idea of saving in general.