We should set aside money for RRSPs.
We should not have any debt.
We should have and stick to a budget.
We should be saving our money.
We should care more about managing our finances.
and then there’s real life.
Look. There is no Law Of The Universe out there that we are breaking when we don’t have it all together with our money. There is no “guilty” verdict hanging over you, or anybody. Really. If you are not saving, if you are in debt, if you are overspending, you are not guilty of anything.
Having a bunch of Shoulds in our heads about our money usually just creates a sense of failure. This is not helpful! It does not inspire us! And it incorrectly positions us in relationship to money. It makes money our taskmaster rather than vice-versa. (It can also be deadly on relationships if one partner has a set of shoulds that they believe apply to the other partner as well!)
This particular pattern of distorted thinking is pervasive when it comes to managing money. It’s time to declutter our minds of the shoulds!
Next time you find yourself feeling guilty or tense about how you’re handling your money, ask yourself what internal should you are not living up to. Then remind yourself there is no law. There is no standard. So where did the should come from? Only you can answer that. Explore it a little.
Replace that should with weighing your various options about how to handle your money in that particular area. For example, rather than I should save more for retirement your options available could include:
- Having a nest egg (or a bigger one) for when I retire would feel good and I’d probably be really glad I had it when the time comes. But living life fully right now feels better. So I am giving myself permission to carry on as I am.
- I really wish I could put aside more for my retirement. However, I am setting aside the amount that is workable in my current situation which includes paying down my mortgage, getting my kids through school, and paying off my student loan. When it makes sense, given my overall financial picture, I will increase more.
- If I do not set aside anything for my retirement, things could get pretty ugly at that time. I know that. Just because I’m not doing anything about it doesn’t make me a bad person. It will probably bite me in the ass but that still doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.
- When I really think about it, I would actually like to save more for my retirement. I could increase my contributions by $50/$100/$500 a month.
Last, do a simple bait-and-switch. Next time you have a should change it to a could. That is a word that is full of possibility. I could set aside more for retirement. I could be out of debt. I could have and stick to a budget. I could….
ps – If you’d like to get more involved with your money, pop over to my biz website, Your Money by Design. It’s still in beta and I have a whole lot of users testing it but you’re welcome to join in at this point! Because it’s still in beta it’s no charge – that will change for folks who start after May 2011, so dive in now!
photo credit: 416Style