Confessions of a frugality fantatic

“I can’t spend”: Confessions of a frugality fanatic.

I hear a lot of confessions about money. So many, in fact, that sometimes I wonder what being a priest would be like. After a recent keynote, one of the attendees came up to me and nervously revealed his biggest financial challenge: “I can’t spend”, he said. And he wasn’t being funny. He knew that his lack of freedom around money was causing stress in his marriage and a lack of fulfillment in life.

Most of time we hear about people who can’t save, who get in over their heads by buying stuff they don’t need and can’t afford. But there are also those who can’t spend, even if they have the money to do so. It could be because they can’t shake the context for money that they grew up with, or they don?t feel worthy of what money can buy, or because they have a compulsive need for control. Whatever the reason, for these people I recommend the following steps:

A) Create a context for money: Specifically, answer the question, “what is money for?” Over and above “security” or “survival”, how can money be used as a tool for your life?

B) Determine what you want: Think about what sort of life you want to have, across different areas such as experiences, contribution, family, health, home, career and things.

C) Develop a plan to get what you want: Take the time to write down what actions you are going to take to achieve what you want, and by when you will take them.

D) Ask a friend or family member for help: The community of people around you can provide the support, ideas and accountability for you to get what you want. Get them engaged. Have them remind you how money can be the financial fuel to bring your goals to life.

Changing habits can be really tough. But do you really want the opening line of your eulogy to be that you “had a fully funded retirement”?