OK, so a weird thing has been happening to me lately. I simply cannot think of anything to buy.
Like, I got my tax return money and thought about spending 10% on something fun (as per my dad’s rule). Couldn’t think of anything.
And then I realised it’s because I just don’t care about ‘stuff’ at the moment. I’ve been dealing with some heartbreak, and doing a lot of self-care as a result. Practising yoga, reading poems, listening to spirituality podcasts, spending time in the garden, going on bushwalks, and watching birds.
I don’t know if I sound more like Gwyneth Paltrow or the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons. Either way, I am focused more on the internal, not the external.
And then, one of the abovementioned podcasts captured it for me. There is some sort of inflection point we reach with money.
We spend a lot of time making it, thinking about it, wanting to buy things with it, worrying about it and generally caring about the good things money can bring. This is important for our security, opportunities and lifestyle.
But there is another piece of work we need to do, which is teaching ourselves not to care about it.
I mean, stripping back its role as a signifier of other things.
Learning not to equate our self-worth with the brand of our handbag. Accepting that people simply don’t care if we bought our leggings at K-Mart. Being ok with the fact we can’t afford some nice things that other people have. And learning when the stuff we already have is … enough.
In my own lockdown life, I have been rotating the same six black t-shirts and three pairs of leggings, Steve Jobs-style. It’s surprising how much I don’t care about this, after a lifetime of telling myself I need variety in my wardrobe to feel satisfied.
What money can’t buy
I know there is an element of privilege to this. I already have my own property, a good income and nice things. I’m not throwing shade on anyone who is focused on working towards those things. They are all good and valid goals.
What I am saying is that in the end, being content with yourself can make you feel content with your financial situation.
It relates to the Mindful Spending approach that I bang on about all the time. It’s about seeing money as a tool to add value to your life – not as a way to measure your success or value as a person.
Believing this actually requires a lot of deprogramming, because we’ve been raised in a capitalist society. We are taught from a young age that money equals worth. That rich people got that way because they deserve it. That if we don’t have nice things, we mustn’t be nice people.
Well that’s all BS, which you can see when I write it down. But along with a bunch of internalised misogyny, we inhale these ideas from the air around us as we grow up.
Some of our inner work as adults is to question it, hold it up to the light and see which bits we want to keep or throw out.
I want to throw out the belief that we need more stuff to feel good.
I know, this is a blog about money, and I’m telling you to care less about it. It’s a nuanced idea.
I want us to care about getting the financial foundations right, giving ourselves security and choices, and maximising what we receive for the work we do.
But I also want us to see that once we’ve done this, money doesn’t matter as much. What matters more is the relationship we have with ourselves. That our value comes from being a living, breathing human on this earth.
And here’s the great thing: loving yourself doesn’t need a discount code. You don’t need to wait for Black Friday. It doesn’t depend on payday.
You can love yourself every day, totally free of charge. How awesome is that?