I always thought my financial journey would look like my parents. Start out poor, then slowly and predictably increase my income, until I retire with my pension and retirement savings fully vested. And then I met my husband. The words slow and predictable hardly exist in his vocabulary. The amount of money we had in the bank and the amount of money we have earned has fluctuated wildly. With brokers making us broker, dot coms busting, start-ups, bad people giving us good money, and surprising gifts of cash, we are riding a much wilder roller coaster than my parents ever did. What I found fascinating is that no matter how much money we had, I always worried about it. I was under a misconception that worrying would give me control over it, so that it couldn’t disappear. Coaching people around their money fears has become a huge passion of mine. I now can see how unnecessary worrying about money can be. Some people use money fears to motivate them to take better care of their finances. I think there is a better way. Here are ten tips for staying rich in December.
1. Find Money – Every time you find money, whether it’s a dime on the ground or a ten dollar bill that’s gone through the wash, use it as evidence to prove that you never know where money will come from. Repeat to yourself, “Money comes to me in many surprising and unexpected ways“. Look for times in your past where this has been true.
2. Make Money – Return that item to the store with the tag still on it. Sell that thing on Craig’s list you’ve been meaning to get rid of. Have your kids offer their leaf raking, dog sitting, gift-wrapping services. Create evidence to prove that there are endless ways to earn money and you can always make money if you need to.
3. Give Money – Drop your coins in the Salvation Army’s baskets. Donate your canned goods to the local food bank. Ask yourself, “If I were money, would I like me?” If the answer is no, we need to talk. Money is energy, respect it, treat it well, and use it for good. Remind yourself that you will always have enough to share with others.
4. Feel Rich – Carry a crisp, clean, $100. bill in your wallet as a reminder that you ARE rich and you DO have money. Catch yourself saying “I can’t afford that” and switch it to, “I CAN afford that, but instead I am choosing to live my values. And I value living within my means.”
5. Indulge your senses. What do you love to look at? Christmas lights? People camped out at Best Buy for three nights and you not being one of them? Snow on the mountaintops? A marshmallow melting in a cup of hot chocolate? A fire in the fireplace? Mmmm. Point out the beauty to those around you and help them enjoy it too.
6. What do you love the smell of? Pine trees? A real fire in the fireplace? Chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven? Cinnamon? The fresh air after a rain? Ahhhh. Take time to notice and enjoy.
7. What do you love the taste of? Grandma’s cookies? Pumpkin bread? Egg nog? Latkes? Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles? Yummm. Invite friends over to indulge and enjoy with you.
8. What do you love the feel of? Ripping open wrapping paper with a vengeance? Warming your back by the fire? Sitting over a heater vent with a blanket? Soft, snuggly blankets? Taking warm clothes out of the dryer? Savor it.
9. What do you love the sound of? If it’s NOT Christmas music, go shopping with your iPod on and revel in the sweet rebellion. I love the sound of kids playing happily so messy craft projects, forts, and stair sliding are common sights in my house in December. I also love silence so I make sure find it in nature and yoga class, especially in December. Figure out what you love to listen to and incorporate more of it into your daily life.
10. Gratitude – Being grateful for what we already have is what we imagine rich people do every day. Funny enough, they worry about money as much as anyone else! The reason we want to be rich is because we want to have that feeling of not worrying! So why not start today. Every time you spend money, think of something you are grateful for. Make a paper chain with your kids and write down a different thing to be grateful for on each link.
When we spend time in gratitude, it activates a different part of our brain than worry. In fact, it is very difficult to be in gratitude and fear at the same time. Appreciating all our blessings and indulging our senses, is what feeling rich is all about. When we pay attention to the current moment, we have access to joy. When we worry, we are ignoring the moment and imagining a dismal future. Since no matter how much we try, we cannot predict nor control the future, why not enjoy what we have right now in front of us? It’s where joy and richness reside, and it doesn’t cost us a dime.
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