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Saying "This is why I can't have nice things" is Holding You Back


Continuing on with the theme from my last post of common quotes, this week I thought I'd pick another: "This is why I can't have nice things". Uttering these words can slowly eat away at not only your financial well-being but can dramatically change how you shop and value the things you buy or own. By being more thoughtful about what we spend our precious resources on we can develop a healthier relationship between us and the things we own and be able to get ourselves on sounder financial footing.

While a fairly harmless comment to make (at least on the surface) for when something breaks, gets lost or left behind, responding with "This is why I can't have nice things" can have negative effects. The typical next step is to either spend more money to replace what you've lost or give up on buying the "nicer things" in favor of the cheaper more "throwaway" quality items. The problem here is that neither of these courses of action really solve the problem. They are ways to replace whatever was lost but do nothing to fix the issue of not taking care of and appreciating the things we buy.

By being willing to accept that we cannot or should not buy nice things we are devaluing that which we buy to just "stuff" rather than appreciating what it is we are using our hard earned dollars to buy. If something could be thrown away or lost so easily with a joking turn of phrase, why was it something you bought in the first place? Was it really worth any of your money? And, how do we change going forward so we don't waste resources and are able to appreciate that which we own?

I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate. Elbert Hubbard

  1. Use the Simmer System - Be more patient when making financial decisions large or small. Think through what it is you want to buy and why. By being more patient we allow ourselves to better understand why it is we want what we're thinking of buying and then we'll be more likely to take care of it once we have it. This removes the need to re-buy as often and in the long run can save you money.
  2. Take inventory and simplify - Look through the possessions you already own. How many of them do you value? What haven't you looked at or used in awhile? What have you forgotten about? It can be hard to see what we really have through all of the clutter. Remove that which isn't adding value to your life and it will be easier to see that which is. You'll then be able to get better use out of the important things that are left thus reducing your need to buy new things in the first place.
  3. Understand the value of what you already have - Your resources are finite and should be spent on that which will make the most impact to your life. Now that you've simplified, see how much value you can get out of what is left before buying anything new. Can you get out of what you own the same value as what you thought you needed to buy?
  4. Don't get carried away - One of the toughest skills to learn is balance. Don't get too carried away with analyzing purchases or removing everything that's unnecessary from your life - that isn't the point. The goal is simply to make sure that we are making the right choices for ourselves when making financial decisions and that we make those decisions last and count for something. Additionally, stuff is still just that, stuff. Don't put too much value on the things you do own. After all, that can change quite quickly and also isn't going to have a dramatic impact on your overall well-being in the long run.

It's very easy today with so many stores a quick drive away or a few clicks on the internet, to get carried away with buying things we think we need. The speed with which we can buy makes it very easy to give in to temptation but don't let it. Find ways to appreciate other things in life besides what you own and focus on buying only that which will have a more lasting impact. You'll be surprised how little this really can be. The end result is not only a better appreciation for the things you own but also the ability to appreciate the simpler things in life and to be able to set yourself up for financial success.

Once we discover how to appreciate the timeless values in our daily experiences, we can enjoy the best things in life. Jerome K. Jerome

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