I remember when I was a pre-teen (probably 10–12 years old), my dad came out with this proclamation that no one was allowed to use more than two squares of toilet paper at a time. My mother, sister and I all looked at him like he was nuts and went on with our lives. I mean he had to be joking right? Two squares of even high quality toilet paper, just isn’t enough! And believe you me, we didn’t have any Charmin up in there! We had the cheapest store brand!
A few days later, he really put his foot down. The family was using too much toilet paper. It was costing way too much and he was adamant that we all acknowledge and agree that we would only use two squares of toilet paper. Every time he used the bathroom, he would take two squares and pull them off and lay them over the roll as a reminder. There were also daily usage checks. Ugh.
Slap a Band-Aid on It
I believe extremely limiting ourselves in this way, can often keep us stuck and in general, we don’t see improvement in our financial perspective or our bank balance. It keeps us from seeing the real picture and knowing where to change. In fact we put so much energy into limiting, that we miss the things that will really make a difference.
Behavior like this around money, is often also a symptom of a larger problem. For my dad, one of the bigger problems was that he would buy a new car every year or two. I share more about that story here.
The larger problem could be with managing money, but it is likely that it has more to do with the feeling that you don’t have enough money or that you are going to run out. Or simply put, you feel there is a scarcity of money in your life and the world in general.
Instead of facing our feelings of scarcity, we want to slap a Band-Aid on it to fix the problem. But the trouble is a “Band-Aid” fix most likely won’t hold; adding feelings of failure on top of the scarcity. And so the cycle continues.
Until we uncover the real trouble and get to the bottom of those feelings of scarcity and lack, none of the little budget conscious changes we make will stick.
It’s Painful So that Must Mean It’s Working
Another problem I see with extremely strict or limited behaviors around money, is that it can turn into a form of punishment. We begin to punish ourselves for not having all the money we need or want.
This punishment turns into a cycle of making ourselves uncomfortable by going without something we need or prefer, because that in turn makes us feel like we are doing what we can to fix the problem. We might do things like:
- Limit our usage of something (even something we love like a favorite perfume or essential oi).
- Limit the amount we will spend on one or two specific items (ex: buy cheap TP or store brand food products).
- Close monitoring of our electric or water usage (to the point where we are driving those around us batty by not flushing the toilet or going behind them and turning off lights).
We may not like it, but we didn’t spend as much money, so things have to get better, right? Nope. There is nothing inherently wrong about these types of choices. But if are making them from a place of lack, that is what creates an issue. And that is what leads you to feeling like you are being punished for not managing your money correctly.
That punishment only makes you feel more scarcity and lack and the cycle just keeps going.
There is Hope!
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Eunice! I don’t have the money! How do you expect me to get ahead if I spend too much money on XX (insert your thing here)?”
Hold on for a minute, Bertis. I’m not suggesting that you spend money you don’t have, or go rack up some credit card debt. I’m suggesting that sometimes…..these types of behaviors foster our own belief that there just isn’t enough. When we start to believe that, we start to exude that energy. And that energy begins to create the exact thing that we don’t want. A life with a lack of money.
What I’m encouraging you to do is look at your financial situation and ask yourself what is really causing the stress. Some examples to get you started:
- Do you feel worthy of having everything you need or want?
- Are you blaming your money situation on something outside of yourself (i.e. parents, employer, spouse, etc)?
- Do you have a pattern of saving and then needing the money for something else when it gets to a certain level (i.e. a cycle of self-sabotage)?
The way to change your relationship with money once and for all, is to really dig in and find those hidden beliefs, patterns and emotions that are tied to money for you. Then putting your effort toward fixing those things, and stop putting your energy into Band-Aid fixes and self-punishment.
The goal here is to really begin to feel like money is available for you, in the quantity that you want and need. Here are a few of my favorite ways to begin today:
- Get really grateful — write down everything you are grateful for in this moment and acknowledge that money brought those into your life.
- Gather up all your loose change and count it — I like to put mine in my piggy bank after I do this. Cha ching! I just put some money aside for another day.
- Do something nice for another person — compliment a stranger, pay for the person behind you in line, etc. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it will be super powerful.
- Do something you enjoy — Upping the pleasure you feel in your life is going to increase your ability to have pleasure. When you do that, you attract more of what you want and that includes money.
I encourage you to start this exploration today. You’ll be glad you did. And if you’d like my help, grab my money workbook!