Express Your Authentic Self (to spend wisely)

When giving personal finance keynote speeches around the country, I love to ask audience members this question:

“If you received $10 million (after-tax!) and immediately after were told you’d be dead in 10 years, what would you start… and what would you quit?”

Over the years, I’ve heard thousands of answers. The most common responses by a wide margin are: “I would quit work or quit worrying.”  And, “I would start to travel and volunteer more.” If my informal straw poll has any merit, it appears as if Thoreau was right: many men and women are leading lives of quiet desperation!

What if you experienced a drastic shift in circumstances like this, what would you begin? What would you relinquish? And most importantly – would the changes make you meaningfully happier?

Photo credit: Louis Leray

These tough economic times have forced so many of us to cut back.  And that can feel depressing. But as a delightful New York Times op-ed piece entitled, Don’t Indulge, Be Happy, points out, “our ideas about the relationship between money and happiness are misguided.” Over time, I’ve come to view the current economic climate as a golden opportunity to reset our attitudes about money, happiness, living, and life.

So today I invite you to focus on the power of spending to enhance your life joy. What makes us feel most alive, of course, varies from person to person. That said, there are some general questions that can apply to us all. As my writing muse, Brooke Axtell asks,

“What spiritual and material gifts do you give – to others and to yourself – that make life worth living?”

On the surface, this is clearly is not your typical personal finance question. But don’t be fooled. A simple query like this can lead to dramatic shifts in your spending and your joy.  Here are two powerful steps you can take today to do just that.

  1. Make sure you are not wasting energy on things that aren’t you to begin with. It is easy to become distracted by social expectations, maintaining status, or acquiring things you are socialized to believe you need, but aren’t in alignment with your values. So today, ask yourself if any areas of excess that demand your time, energy and money, but don’t serve your authentic sense of purpose have crept into your life.
  2. Commit to spending your money in a way that is congruent with what you feel is important in your life. Our relationship with money is symbolic of our relationship with ourselves. So today, establish a spending plan to prioritize how you want to spend your time, money and energy. Take a moment to consider whether your current use of money is in alignment with what you value most. Then in one sentence, write out your core spending philosophy. 

For further inspiration on this topic of aligning your personal finances with your authentic self, I highly recommend reading the cult book amongst the conscious money expert set, Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominquez.

7 Replies to “Express Your Authentic Self (to spend wisely)”

    1. K – You just made my day :). I’m taking a shift in the tone of me blogs. In the past I was laser focused on on giving lots of stats and hard core personal finance tips. But what I’ve observed (in my own life too!) is that for a person to most effectively act on facts in any area of there life, it helps as they start from a centered place of authenticity. Since I can’t say I’ve found my own peace place … yet – I was thinking perhaps others felt the same. So bless you for letting me know this is helpful. And if there are any specific topics you’d like me to address in future posts, just holler! M

  1. Thank you Manisha. Your thoughts are worthwhile and I enjoy reading them first thing in the morning before my busy day starts with Aqui Santa Fe, luxury vacation rentals. Your husband is responsible for my good fortune …….I met him at Land Rover while we were waiting for our cars and he passed on your name. Have a good day!

    1. Aw, so glad you are finding these posts helpful… thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. It’s a non-traditional take on personal finance blogging so I’m eager to make sure I’m delivering content that is truly useful. If there are ever topics you’d like me to talk about just let me know. And glad you got to meet my sweet hubby; he’s my best friend & biggest supporter, not to mention one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met 🙂

  2. Great post Manisha!! It so reminds me so much of the relief I felt after first reading about Tammy Strobel and her web site in this article. 2010 NY Times article about living simply
    I love teaching privately and every time I consider getting a job because of increases in fixed health care costs I say myself But why would I give up doing what I love now to have more money for a future that might not come and be unhappy. As the death toll continues to rise from hurricane Sandy in NYC; It was a great reminder that tomorrow is never promised.

    1. So true – as someone who used to be OBSESSIVELY focused on preparing for the future I’m starting to realize that optimizing your personal finance habits to maximize your joy today — while also keep a prudent but not kooky obsessive eye — on tomorrow is a much more joy-filled approach to dealing with the only certain thing in life —> uncertainty 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *