One of the things that transpired when I met the lawyer working on selling the property in North Bulgaria was that I needed the original of a particular document which I had left at home in Manchester; somewhere! I am not entirely deprived of virtues but patience has never been one of them; so, I got on the phone and John started looking through the piles of documents we have managed to cram into the filing cabinet.
To cut a long story short – a story that took John couple of days actually – the document was found and this is very good news indeed about finalising the sale. What was even more interesting, John found many old financial statements that made a fascinating reading.
Looking through these statements two things became clear:
- We have paid PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) on one of our credit cards for couple of years in the 1990s which we need to reclaim – we certainly never agreed to this. Why I am telling you this? Because of two lessons: a) never assume that ‘you are smarter than that’ but check – you may find you are not that smart after all; b) understanding is not enough and to manage your finances well you need information.
- Money used to flow through our lives like water on very dry land: without nourishing it. We finally saw where all the money we had earned went: the financial statements revealed that we went to restaurants, all five of us, five-six times a month; we also spent close to £500 ($770) every month on food and I remember throwing most of it away.
We will claim the PPI insurance protection and this may be as much as £1,000 ($1,500): this also will be the first time ever that my impatience is paying off handsomely.
What I found more interesting is thinking about spending and the ways in which money nourishes – or not – our lives.
Many would have us believe that spending is THE problem; in fact this message is in the foundation of a whole sub-niche of personal finance blogs, and a very popular one it is – the frugality blogs.
What I believe is that spending – just like expending energy on moving, working and playing – is one of the inevitabilities of life today.
Spending is not a problem; spending that doesn’t nourish your life is a problem!
In our case, spending money on food we threw away didn’t nourish our lives; going to restaurants as a matter of course didn’t bring uniqueness to our lives; going on holidays we didn’t really value or enjoy was ultimately wasteful.
Three strategies to make sure you money nourishes you life
There is little point to money if it doesn’t nourish our life; but to make sure that it does we ought to focus not on money but on life itself.
Starting here, I can think of three main strategies to ensure that our money nourishes our lives.
Strategy 1: Value
Have you noticed that many of us go through life accepting what they can get rather than focusing on what they really consider to be of value? Well, I have! And I hear more and more often that ‘now that we are fifty, we should get what we can’.
Not me! I learned to get what I want and am determined to keep it that way!
Over the last four years or so I leaned to look for value in its three guises:
- I seek what I consider of value;
- I consume in line with my values that have gone in direction opposite to ‘consumerism’; and
- I aim to get the best value for money.
Strategy 2: Desire
We live in a world where desire is rarely allowed to develop because our ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ are satisfied in ‘the bud’. Even people my age, people who used to dream about a toy for months before they got it, or not, have started getting what they want when they want it. I remember my Dad noting that in our house all that we wanted appeared immediately like in a fairy tale.
Well, I have been changing that. Lately, I make it a point to wait so that real desire – be it for an adventure, a book or a pair of shoes – can blossom. I am not going to call it ‘delayed gratification’ because it is not about gratification: it is more like a test of how much something will enrich your life. If desire unfolds it is worth spending on X; if desire withers away it is obviously not something I really want in my life.
Strategy 3: Savour
I often go to restaurants on my own when I travel; and I always bring a book. This gives the message that I’m there just to ‘put something in my belly’ but it also means that most evenings I don’t remember what I’ve had for dinner.
This is pretty much the mechanism through which we make sure that money we spend doesn’t nourish our lives. The way to change is to make sure that we savour every action, every bite and every experience.
Does your money nourish your life and how do you make sure that it does?