Luxury items aren’t really a luxury any more because everything seems attainable. And when I say everything seems attainable I mean that I see more Mercedes and Coach bags than ever. And can every third person in Colorado really afford an Audi? If they could there wouldn’t be so many damn houses in foreclosure!!
Even if we can’t afford luxury things, we can sure get our hands on them. Ahem, you know that credit card debt I’m still paying down.
There was a time in my life when I paid bills and bought groceries with a credit card because I had no other way. Even when I made $9 an hour I made too much money for any type of assistance. But I worked hard and eventually paid those off.
And then I made more money and I deserved nice things.
And then I built up more debt.
The problem with nothing being out of reach is that we somehow convince ourselves that we “deserve” everything we want. And because it’s over at the mall down the street, we can head over there and just pick it up.
I was living way beyond my means. If you are using a credit card, you are living beyond your means. There might be cases where you don’t have a choice that’s a little different, but that’s still living beyond your means.
And don’t EVEN try the whole “but I get super awesome travel points when I use my credit card” because I’ve been there. Done it.
Since I have become hyper-sensitive to paying cash and not using credit cards I see so many cases of people buying things they cannot afford. If you cannot pay all of your bills and the debt that you already have and have cash left over to pay cash for the item that you want then you cannot afford it.
“But, but, but I can borrow a couple hundred from my savings…”. Wrong again. If you do not have the cash left after paying your bills to buy something, even if it is just a pair of jeans, you cannot afford them.
It is tough to change the mindset of “I want and I CAN” to “I want, but I cannot afford”.
Speaking from experience this is one of the harder things in life to do but it only takes about two months to get in this habit. It is a hard two months, but after that two months is up those cravings and those “must haves” and those emotional purchases will be a thing of the past. If you are going to become financially “free” they HAVE TO BE a thing of the past.
You may even experience a fresh emotion called buyers remorse. I wrote a post about buyers remorse over here. Check it out. It’s important to know what it is, AND how to deal with it.
The other piece of this is emotional. We want nice, expensive things because they make us FEEL important and respected. We have friends that have nice things and go on fancy trips. But guess what? It’s okay not to have the money, and to say no and you need to be comfortable in that reality.
Honestly, I have gotten to the point where I almost feel powerful, and I see visions of Superwoman with her hands on her hips, cape waving in the wind, when I say I don’t have the money. It feels fabulous to be honest. It feels so freeing because I know that I’m not going to go home and have the whole “what the fuck did I just do?” conversation with myself behind closed doors and then try to figure out what comes next.
The emotional piece is inside you and cannot be fixed with anything tangible. It takes some soul searching and deep emotional digging. Like, digging to China deep.
The first step is to start saying NO. Say no to yourself. Say no to your friends. You cannot be something you truly are not. You can’t be a millionaire unless you actually have millions so stop acting like one. I just remembered this post Don’t spend money like you are a millionaire (even if you are one) that I wrote in March 2011 and I have to say YES! (Dang, I used to write some good stuff!)
You have to stick with your budget. And the #1 rule of budgeting is BILLS GET PAID FIRST! Here is an example of the budget sheet that I use. There are several tabs at the bottom. (You can check out this post on how to figure out how and what to budget.)
I have overcome the WANT vs NEED issue by being budget-minded. In this, I have found that I don’t really have to compromise what I want. What I have to compromise is how I get it. Using CASH.
I sell things on eBay to get cash. I use coupons. I save hundreds by using my piggy banks. I shop at TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, JCP, and buy all of our shoes at Famous Footwear and flip flops at Payless, but I get what I want and am still able to feel like a million bucks.
I have a $40 purse that I bought at Kohl’s and when people that are carrying Coach purses tell me how cute it is my inner frugal girl does a cartwheel in her Walmart jeans and cute Payless flops.