What Is Financial Anorexia?

What is financial anorexia? Financial anorexia is a type of spending disorder. People who suffer from the eating disorder of anorexia may obsess about food and the number on the scale. People who suffer from the financial disorder may obsess about money and the number on their statement(s). For those suffering – and it is indeed suffering – from financial anorexia, they never believe they have enough to enjoy what they’ve got.

According to Ken Donaldson, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor in Seminole, Florida, “Anorexia is characterized by a distortion of perception.” Someone suffering from the eating disorder believes they still need to lose a few extra pounds, when to everyone else it’s clear they are harming themselves. Someone suffering from the financial one believes they still need more money, when it’s clear they are depriving themselves.

While the eating disorder of anorexia can be fatal, financial anorexia can be dangerous to mental health, friendships, and family relationships. Think about how it feels to be with someone engaged more in extreme deprivation than in enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Where Does Financial Anorexia Come From?

Anorexia is fueled by isolation – the more the sufferer depends upon their own distorted perception, the worse their condition becomes. For example, Ebenezer Scrooge (in the beginning of Dickens’ tale), is an isolated penny-pincher and money hoarder. He is the stereotype of the financial anorexic.

Additionally, our culture still worships conspicuous wealth and Twiggy-like figures. “You can’t be too rich or too thin,” sums it up.

Most people understand the “too thin” part, but “too rich”? Is it possible to be “too rich”? Financial anorexics typically accumulate an abundance of resources. Their wealth does not come from a healthy relationship with money. Rather, fear is at its root. They might be “too rich” for their actual needs. Further, the more they have, the more they have to lose, or fear losing.

What are they afraid of? Fears might include:

  • that it will disappear tomorrow in a catastrophic world event;
  • a very expensive health issue;
  • hyper-inflation;
  • becoming dependent upon adult children;
  • “spoiling” family members; or
  • that self-worth will fall in lockstep with net worth.

Certainly some of these things can and do happen. Yet our societal messages, and brains wired to look out for danger, emphasize catastrophic scenarios past the point of their actual probability. At some point in life, many financial anorexics realize, to their immense regret, that they worried more about what might happen, and didn’t, than enjoyed what they actually had.

What Can Be Done About It?

Exposure to new information sources is one method of help. According to Donaldson, “New information will disrupt the pattern.” Support groups, a counselor, and therapy can provide external points of view. For financial anorexia, a visit with an understanding financial professional, who can provide concrete reassurance, often is a good first step.

Sometimes the new information has to come from, unfortunately, from a painful life-altering event. How did Scrooge turn around? By exposure to his past, present, and future if he continued on his course. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future showed him more to be afraid of than the fears he made up for himself.

At some point, it makes sense to ask a few questions:

What were all those years of saving for?

How much is too much to spend on seeing family or friends one more time per year? 

How soon is too soon to leave a stressful, unhappy job if it’s taking years off of your life?

What is it truly worth to take the trip (safely, of course) you have been dreaming about for so many years?

How much is too much to spend on self-care like a massage, therapy sessions, or a manicure?

What if the thing to be afraid of is completely unknowable right now and wouldn’t be solved with money anyway? What would change?

Working With an Understanding Professional

A 2017 study sponsored by the CFP Board supported the psychological benefits of working with a financial professional. The study concluded, based upon a survey of over 800 consumers, that, “Working with a CFP® professional ultimately removes the negativity consumers experience relating to their finances and instead elicits feelings of confidence, optimism, ease, and security.”

Confidence, optimism, ease, and security. Those sound a lot better than catastrophes, worry, and fear.

How do you want to feel about your financial future? Share your thoughts below.

Want more information about financial psychology? Sign up for our monthly e-letterschedule a call, or check out Chapters 1 – 3 of The Mindful Money Mentality: How To Find Balance in Your Financial Future.​

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What’s a Holiday Spending Style?

what's a holiday spending style

What’s a holiday spending style? It’s the approach you take to spending money on others.

How do you decide what to spend at the holidays, and on whom? In her program, Money Habitudes http://www.moneyhabitudes.com, Dr. Syble Solomon breaks down our money habits and attitudes into several different styles. Here are how a few of those styles might apply to holiday spending.

Spending Style: Status

After earning my first real money at 15, I made a list and a budget for each person on it. A few years later, at age 20, I looked at the list of names, each with a dollar sign beside them, and thought “Yikes!” It could appear as if each person had a price tag.

At the time, I didn’t know it, but I was operating under one of Dr. Solomon’s six spending styles, the one involving “status.” In other words, I was too concerned what other people would think about my spending decisions, and as a result, I spent too much.

So next,  I made a “total” budget, and tried to keep track as I went along on how I was doing. Yet that didn’t work very well, since I could always find an excuse to break the budget on something to keep it “fair.”

Spending Style: Security

If you spend very little on others, and on yourself, because you are concerned you may need it for an emergency, you might have the “security” spending style. You might do the bare minimum necessary to get invited back to next year’s turkey dinner. Or you might find ways to celebrate other than spending money.

Spending Style: Idealist

Idealist – If you reject the materialism of the holidays, then you might give everyone something home-made, like cookies, or your own artistic creation. You have the hardest time of all styles making a spending plan, because you despise handling money matters.

Spending Style: Spontaneous

This style can’t wait to see what great ideas are presented each year by retailers. Perhaps you make a spending plan, but you have a tough time sticking to it because of all the fun temptations and opportunities to purchase the perfect gifts presented to you right before checking out.

Spending Style: Caretaker

Caretakers see gift-giving as a way to show how much you care about people. Your spending plan might be more generous than other spending styles (but hopefully not more generous than is financially wise).

Spending Style: Goal-Oriented

Your most important concern is staying within your spending plan. It may take you longer to get your shopping done in order to find the right gift-cost combinations.

What’s Your Style?

If you exhibit more than one holiday spending style, that is a good thing. The key is not to take any one style to an extreme. If you can make a spending plan that is wise for your situation, shows your love and affection for others, and still allows for some guilt-free spontaneity, you have probably found the combination that will bring you, and those you care about, lots of joy this holiday season.

For more on the psychology of money, see The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future.

Or to schedule a call to talk about money matters on your mind, click here.

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Decision Fatigue and Shopping

retail shopping fatigue

Decision fatigue is a real thing. I discovered this poignantly on a recent shopping trip. The mission was simple: Buy a spice rack. I figured the best shot was at Bed Bath Beyond (BBB); a store I had not entered in over a year, much less at the holidays. I had a specific size and type in mind, so there was no doubt BBB would provide all the choices I needed. Little did I know that trip would be the beginning of the end of my day’s productivity.

Upon entering, I scanned quickly, bypassing a cart to stay focused on the single item I wanted. Smugly, I glided past the holiday specials to the kitchen department. Lo and behold, there were spice racks. And all kinds of other racks. An embarrassment of choices.

Because I like choices (or thought I did until this day), before long, I was nose to nose with shelves and shelves of plastic, rubber, wood, aluminum, and chrome gadgets, and doodads for kitchen storage problems I didn’t even know I had. It was an assault on my single-mindedness. More than once, something other than a spice rack caught my eye. At first, I had the mental wherewithal to ignore them.

Decision Fatigue Begins

As the minutes wore on, my brain was presented with dozens of items for which a decision had to be made. Does it look like what I came for? If yes, is it the right size and type? If no, move to next item. As this process continued, some strangely gleeful part of my brain, a la Martha Stewart, said, “It’s not the spice rack, but….is it something I COULD use? Hmmmm…it looks very handy. And sleek, too! After all….maybe it could make even more room in the cabinet?” The cabinet, of course, had nothing to do with the spice rack.

“STOP IT,” another Jean-Chatzky-part of my brain, said. “You are here to get the spice rack. Move on.”

Next doodad. Does this look like the spice rack? No, not quite. Yet, the label showed the entire matching doodad set in a fantasy-organized kitchen. Then that Martha Stewart voice again, “Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if my whole kitchen looked like this doodad’s label?”

“STOP IT,” Jean intervened. “You would have to buy every doodad like it in here, which is a) exactly what you did not come here to do and b) doesn’t even include a spice rack. Next item!”

And so it went….back and forth over a dozen items for fifteen minutes. My mental wherewithal was waning.

Finally, I found exactly what I was looking for and grabbed it.

Decision Fatigue Leads to Aimless Shopping

By then, Martha and Jean had gone 144 rounds. I felt drained. So why did I feel like, oh, taking a look around? Just to see if there was something I couldn’t live without? I got to the bath side and wondered what got into me.

To check out, I had to walk the gauntlet of holiday specials again. I actually pondered chocolates. That’s how beaten-down my willpower was.

When I left the store only $8.35 poorer, I felt like Rocky – beat up, but victorious.

I needed a nap.

Emptying the Decisionmaking Fuel Tank

Dr. Moira Somers, a decision fatigue expert, talks about the mental energy required to make decisions, particularly ones avoiding temptation. It seems we wake up each day with a finite amount of mental decisionmaking energy, like a full tank of fuel. After exhausting our tank, it’s free-for-all shopping, chocolate, smoking, sleeping, nagging, drinking, or whatever your personal favorite fallback behavior happens to be. That devilish irrational voice, (“it’s ok to have it this time” “I won’t do it again” “I can make it up later”) is most powerful when we’re depleted.

To make it more challenging, now we have online shopping. Savvy retailers are perfecting the presentation of temptations on our phones as well as they do in stores. It’s devilishly easy (and I confess, enjoyable) to click and shop.

Finally, stress of any kind (had a little bit of that the last 2 years?) burns fuel in the tank too. When we worry, we erode the ability to resist spontaneous decisions we later regret.

How To Keep the Tank Full

Some solutions? Plenty of sleep. Meditation and mindfulness. Frequent rest breaks. Having someone with whom you can share your struggles.

Also, put fewer decisions into every day by asking whether they can be:

  • automated
  • delegated
  • eliminated or
  • date-activated (meaning putting it on the calendar so it doesn’t take up space in your head).

For more on decision fatigue, see Dr. Somers’ work at http://moneymindandmeaning.com, or Chapter 6 of The Mindful Money Mentality: How To Find Balance in Your Financial Future.

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Letting Go of Money Self-Doubt

Letting go of money self-doubt is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Sometimes these messages operate in the background, quietly driving decisions when we don’t realize it. Other times they’re front and center.

What does money self-doubt sound like? “I knew I’d screw it up.” “I’ll never be good with money.” “If I can’t manage my own finances, I’m a failure.”  “Why am I so stupid with money?”

Painful statements, these are. While sometimes spoken out loud, they are spoken silently far more often.

Money Self-Doubt Origins

Where does money self-doubt come from?  It could be one traumatic event or a repetition of harmful moments that lead to flawed beliefs about our financial capabilities. Without counterbalancing mantras like, “You’re still good. You just made a mistake,” or “You can do this,” the message delivered can be, “You’re a screwup. You’re a failure. You will never get it.”

Sondra (not her real name) is a highly educated and accomplished professional. Her parents came from Depression-era families where money was tight in their younger years. Money was never talked about in Sondra’s home, although she was given everything she needed. She grew up with the belief that her parents didn’t discuss it with her because they believed money was something she was not capable of handling.

Money Self-Doubt Results

Without realizing these beliefs exist, we allow th to influence what actions we take or fail to take. It can affect who we allow into our lives, and who we don’t. It can affect our choice of career. Or how we spend, or choose not to, on our own needs, wants, and wishes. Ironically, money self-doubt can lead to overspending with some people, and deprivation with others.

Sondra chose a career where she was assured a salary and the chance of a bonus if she worked hard enough. She worked longer hours than she wanted to. She lived minimally, foregoing many comforts and rewards of her hard work. Her dreams of having more work-life balance were put on hold because she never felt financially secure. In her personal life, she chose friends and partners who also didn’t talk about money, leaving a gap in her closest relationships.

Letting Go of the Messages

If you’ve been operating under flawed assumptions, and now you know it, you’ve taken the first step to reset your relationship with money.

What else can you do? Here are two suggestions to start:

1) Be aware of those who are too willing to reinforce doubt-based messages – family members, partners, friends, or even (especially) financial professionals. Instead, seek the company of those who say, “I am confident you can handle this,” and will work alongside you, not put themselves ahead or above you.

2) Be aware of body messages. Self-doubt, sometimes manifesting as shame, has a feeling to it – it might be tightness in the chest, nausea or butterflies. Breathe through the feeling and redirect your thoughts to positive truths. You are smart. This is something you can do. You got this, even if you have to ask for help to get started. Call someone supportive to talk about it.

After talking with a friend, Sondra decided to educate herself about money. She began to read books that explained things simply, and take online courses that took a simple approach. Patiently, she interviewed many financial professionals. The more she talked about money, the more confident she became. In the end, she found someone who prioritized her financial education and independence. She began to feel more secure, and consider a daring career move.

The Gift of Letting Go

Letting go of money self-doubt can be one of the greatest gifts we give ourselves to reach peace and security about our financial future.

For more on unspoken money messages see Chapters 2 and 3 of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future, or this 5-minute video with mental health counselor Ken Donaldson on Money Shame.

For a short online course on how to speak “finance” about retirement readiness, see Simple Finance Retirement Readiness: https://bit.ly/3p3BkXE

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Accepting Gifts Graciously

accepting gifts graciously

Accepting gifts graciously can be difficult. “Oh, thank you…but I didn’t get you anything!” How often has that awkward response ruined a nice giving moment? We are wired for reciprocity. It’s hard to accept a gift without feeling the need to give one back.

For a long time I struggled with this. Sometimes I didn’t give gifts that I wanted to, because I was afraid of imposing an obligation with my gift! How silly. It took time to realize not everyone thinks the same way. Some people can accept a gift graciously. I learned that when someone has the desire to say Thank You, Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, or Happy Arbor Day with a gift, a little gratitude is all that’s needed to make the kind gesture complete.

The Best Gifts

The best gifts, in fact, might not even arrive in a package. A few years ago, I wanted to give my Toastmasters group a gift, a final thank-you speech, to express in 10 minutes how the program and its members changed my life. The response to my going-away speech was overwhelming – appreciative tears all around. I gave a gift; and immediately, unexpectedly, got 30 gifts back. In my past, I would have said, “Thanks, but I wasn’t THAT good,” or found a way to deflect the praise. Not very gracious.

Instead, I soaked it up with as much grace, courage, and humility as I could muster. Because I allowed that to happen, the exchange felt complete. I left the speech on an emotional high, and I hope everyone else did, too.

Navigating Expectations

If I am moved to be the generous gift-giver, I check in – am I doing so without expectations, out of the goodness of my heart? There’s a saying that I bear in mind, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

On the other hand, if I am overwhelmed with someone else’s generosity – intangible, tangible, or financial – how will I handle it? How often can we graciously accept, honor the giver’s gesture, and allow the exchange to be complete, especially when it feels like a lot?

With so many messages about self-determination, independence, and not “needing” others in our lives to get by, it can be easy to forget how gift exchanges weave the fabric of our support networks – friends, colleagues, community and family – together. Handled well, exchanging grows and beautifies the fabric. When not handled so well, or not happening at all, the fabric rips or shrinks.

How Will You Handle Gifts?

Accepting gifts graciously pays rewards. Consider what giving and receiving this season will do for you and for those around you. With a plan for handling both sides of giving, we have the potential to enter 2021 with relationships that feel a little more rich and beautiful. Those are the best gifts of all.

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Independence, Emotional Intelligence, and Better Business

(Prefer video to text? See this message in a 3-minute video here: Independence, Emotional Intelligence, and Better Business)

This month included Independence Day, but it is also included Independents Week – a nationwide campaign to heighten awareness of local businesses, jobs and economic prosperity brought to a community by non-chain, non-corporate enterprises. As an independent businessperson for 10 years now, I learned that practicing emotional intelligence is one of the best skills for managing the multiple relationships that come with running a business. Following are 3 of these skills.

1) Boundaries – Being unaware of my need to please people, I took a very nice client in my first year who asked me to make house calls. She often had to meet after work, which was a 50-minute commute for me in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. The doorbell or her phone would ring, which sometimes prevented her from focusing on our tasks at hand. I violated my policy of meeting during regular business hours in my own office environment, free of distractions, because I wanted so badly for “her to be happy.” While I believe she was happy, and we got her project completed on time, I was usually exhausted, a little irritable, and resentful before, during, and after our meetings. Yet, it was not her fault – it was mine, because I made a business decision without the intelligence of setting boundaries.

2) Listening – I used to think listening meant keeping my mouth shut until the other person quit talking. That certainly works better than interrupting, which I used to be a pro at. Later I learned that repeating back what I thought I heard, followed by something like, “Have I heard you correctly?” worked wonders for my relationships with clients, vendors, employees, and, wow, even friends and family. There are as many ways to strengthen your listening skills as there are ways to strengthen your muscles. Exercising my listening ability has helped me be a better receiver of sensitive information, and deepened my understanding of where others are coming from. Whether it’s a vendor or a client, both of these made me better at business.

3) Customer Focus – I used to think if I advertised or discussed my credentials, picture, achievements, or experience, then I would win people over. Instead I found that the more I make it about them, the happier everyone, including me, is. I find other people’s stories and tribulations far more interesting than my own. Besides, business is not the best place to get my needs met. I have a support network of friends and family who gladly fill that role. My website, my marketing materials, my message, and my meetings may include personal stories, but their purpose is an attempt to provide a direct lesson or benefit for my reader, my client, or my vendor. These interactions focus primarily on what they have told me is most important to them (which is generally not my credentials, picture, achievements, or years of experience) – it’s their unique issues and struggles.

Investing in emotional intelligence education is one of the best I ever made. It has helped me remain independent in business, but also helped me grow as a person. (For one provider of emotional intelligence in the workplace, see www.kendonaldson.com).

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Give Yourself a Break With Your Money History

When I was interviewing for my first job out of college, one of the vice presidents who interviewed me was Joy Turner. A woman on the move in her 30s, Joy seemed highly respected by her peers at the bank. She had a calm demeanor, and while reviewing my resume’, she noted my GPA was 3.2. Immediately assuming she disapproved, I blurted out, “Yes, I could have done better.” Her expression softened as she supportively responded, “Well, 3.2 is not bad, and considering you went to Davidson, don’t you think it’s actually pretty good? We don’t always want people with perfect 4.0’s.” I exhaled, relieved. I got the job, and later she became one of my favorite mentors.

No matter how good the financial statements look, many people I have met come in and say, “Yes, but, I could have done better.” When I ask, “Why do you think so?” the three most common reasons I hear are something like:

“I panicked and sold everything in 2008.”
“I trusted that financial person before I did my homework on them.”
“I haven’t paid enough attention to this stuff.”

I understand where they are coming from. It’s common to think we can always do better. I am just as bad at looking at my mistakes, my humanness, and blaming myself for not being “better,” as the next person.

But over time I have learned to reframe the question. Rather than play the “What if I hadn’t made that mistake” game, I can take inventory of many things I have done right that have led me to the life I have today. Why waste time inventing a future that never happened, where I had a 4.0, got a different job, or didn’t buy Enron in 1999? All you can do is resolve to be better and make better choices, now that you know the difference. Why not be glad that now you know the difference?

I am guessing Joy Turner thought someone who had learned that lesson, and was ok with it, would make better decisions in the long run. Try treating yourself the same way, and see if you don’t make better decisions, too.

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Financial Success: Too Hot to Handle?

Have you ever known someone who spent or gave away a windfall, seemingly believing they didn’t “deserve” it? Or were they scared to have more than they ever had?

In a recent meeting, a client shared stories of times when she committed financial self-sabotage. When she was on a tear, making what she considered to be “a lot” of money, she began to slow down. The success felt uncomfortable.

T. Harv Eker, author of The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, talks about an “inner-money thermostat,” an inner upper limit we have set on financial success.  According to Ken Donaldson, LMHC, an emotional intelligence expert in Seminole Florida and author of Marry Yourself First , the thermostat is set by “history, events, programming, parents, institutions and cultural messages.”

At one point in my banking career, my thermostat got too hot, too. I was in line for a big promotion that involved a panel interview, and I blew it. People who worked with me couldn’t believe the same Holly showed up for the interview who showed up for work every day. Instead of feeling pride and confidence in the opportunity, I remember discomfort and anxiety. It made no sense.

Because I thought I might be given the opportunity again, I spent the following year working on the internal and external sources of my thermostat. I improved my inner confidence by joining Toastmasters; and I improved my external messages by consciously surrounding myself with people who gave me joy and support. It worked: the next year, I aced it, and got the promotion.

What if you know someone who seems uncomfortable with what they have either earned or been given? Try asking five questions:

1) What money messages do you remember from childhood?

2) Imagine you freely embraced all the financial success that comes your way for the next three years. When that occurs, how will you be spending your life?

3) What would you think about keeping a journal of every unexpected windfall and success you experience for the next 12 months?

4) What one thing could you focus on for those 12 months that would go the farthest toward your financial success?

5) What could you change in order to surround yourself only with people who bring you joy and support?

With awareness, time, and the right support network, financial thermostats can be reset so that no matter how hot it gets, you’ve got it handled.

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The Slippery Slope of Rationalization

At a financial planners’ conference I attended last week, a dinner conversation turned to the seedy side of the industry. Namely, we were discussing the bad apples who spoil the whole bunch: those who steal their clients’ money. Ask anyone with experience in defending or prosecuting these liars, and almost to a person they will say the culprit “thought” they were acting in their clients’ best interests, or at least started out that way. Criminals such as Al Capone reputedly have said they intended to do what was best for those they had murdered, by putting them out of their misery.

In the financial world, a bad guy or gal typically crosses the line after they get in a bind with a promise or debt they cannot fulfill. They intend to “borrow” client funds, sometimes without telling them, and sometimes by offering an “investment” in a related entity which pays an attractive, but usually not exorbitant, return. They “intend” to pay it back as soon as all the chips fall back in line. But the Peter-robbing to pay Paul has begun, and as complication grows to cover the lies and promises, a Ponzi scheme is born.

Perhaps these headline-grabbers attract our attention because there is something about rationalization that strikes close to home. Maybe we rationalize a behavior that doesn’t hurt anyone but ourselves, or maybe, over time, it is the kind that rocks a relationship to its core. The clients of the criminals often state they thought their best interests were being served. They trusted the words they heard. Delivered with sincerity, they read the right intent into them. Perhaps because what was said was what they wanted to hear, they did not question whether the actions were matching the words.

Maybe we have been on the receiving end of a rationalIzation that sounded good, and chose to ignore that inner voice that told us to second guess. This is its own form of rationalization, too. Both parties want to ride the denial carousel, because getting on or off involves short-term pain or conflict. That foregone pain, though, simply compounds, whether financially, like interest on too much debt, physically, like ill health practices, or emotionally, like small slights leading to anxiety, depression, or anger. The longer we live in deferral and denial, the greater the imminent pain, and the harder it is to stop.

Only those with courage will stop the rationalization before it begins, and stand up to their own consequences. It takes similar courage to call the duplicity on the carpet the moment the inner voice discovers it and whispers in our ear. If you ever find yourself on one end or the other, remember, the degree of pain to call it, and change now, may pale in comparison to the pain you will save yourself later.

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At What Tipping Point Does Less Become More?

A reader recently discovered a terrific online financial resource – www.mrmoneymustache.com. Mr. Money Mustache controverts conventional thinking (or rather, lack of it) about spending and saving. The co-authors, husband and wife, reached financial independence at the age of 30 by saving aggressively in their 20s. They are raising their kids and spending time as and where they wish. They are by no means “deprived.”

Of course, “deprived” is a self-determined definition. Related to our self-definition of “deprived” is our self-definition of “enough.” What is enough for some might be deprived for others. What is enough at one point in our lives might be deprived at another.

However, even for those who by everyone else’s standards seem to have “enough,” defining the tipping point between enough and deprived remains one of the toughest parts of constructing a useful plan for their financial future.  (Our calculations would be so much easier if we only knew on what day we were going to die, and how. Once the human genome is mined sufficiently to provide that, financial planners will be out of business.)

In fact, the more work we do on becoming mindful of what is “enough,” the richer we become.  One reason is that our society encourages us to confuse consumption of “more” (more money, more stuff, more status) with the pursuit of enough. Unfortunately, enough becomes like the end of a rainbow – the closer we get, the farther it seems to move.  Was there a point in your life where you were on the path of acquiring “more,” but stopped and realized you had “enough”? Did you change direction? If so, did you then feel deprived? Or, was it not so bad, maybe even better, after all?

Ironically, our pursuit of more can often be accomplished by doing with less. Let’s look at three money behaviors and see how this applies.

1) In spending: Examining what fulfills needs, what fulfills comforts, what fulfills luxuries, and what becomes clutter. The tipping point between luxuries and clutter is where more unhappiness is caused to acquire, own, maintain, insure, upgrade, or sell something than happiness is created by having it.

2) In investing: Understanding the unhappiness caused by taking unnecessary risk, or costs and fees, in order to reach for return. The tipping point between appropriate and inappropriate risk happens when “enough” return has not been clearly defined and maintained with discipline.

3) In sharing: Discovering the satisfaction of having helped another human, free of expectations of reciprocity or thanks. The more we stretch to share in this way, the better we feel. The tipping point between a mentality of scarcity and abundance is one of the most difficult to define, which makes it one of the most gratifying to discover.

Finding our tipping points can be a little scary, like stepping onto a tightrope and wondering if there is a net. When we think about it, few opportunities to stretch ourselves come without a fallback plan. But many opportunities come with rewards we can’t yet fathom.

Share your “less is more” experiences in the comments here, or email me at holly@hollydonaldsonfinancialplanner.com.

Continue ReadingAt What Tipping Point Does Less Become More?