Ask Ms. Dollar Wise
November 15, 2016
Dear Ms. Dollar Wise,
I’m feeling stuck in a cycle of envy and jealousy. Many of my friends seem to have money to spend, drive fancy cars, eat out a lot, and go to expensive events. I want this lifestyle as well. I end up spending money I don’t have on stuff I don’t need and putting it on credit cards; I feel myself sinking lower and lower in debt just to keep up. Instead of feeling happy doing things with my friends, I’m feeling overwhelmed with how to balance my personal financial situation with those of others. How can I break this cycle of comparison and enjoy my friends again?
Dear Wanting More,
Break the cycle now before it’s too late! Please cut up your credit cards today and make a vow to never use credit again to finance your lifestyle.
The key word in your question is “balance.” Living within your means calls for doing a monthly budget before the month begins. Scrutinize where every dollar is going. Give every dollar a name. By doing this you can see where maybe cutting out those daily visits to Starbucks will give you the extra money for that dinner out, or movies with friends. Once you take control of where your dollars are going you can start to make choices about what is and is not important to you. Living within your budget doesn’t mean you can’t do some of the things your friends are doing; it means you are choosing, among the many social activities, the ones that bring you the most joy. It’s all about balance.
I’m not saying this is going to be easy, because it’s not. Media messages are constantly telling us to buy more, do more, look like this, or act like that. With so many distractions, it can be difficult to appreciate what you have right now. But by choosing to be thankful, you can ignore these messages and embrace contentment.
Contentment is at the core of money management and building long-term wealth. No matter how much money you have or how committed you are to living within your means on a well planned budget, there will always be someone who makes more money than you or doing things you can’t afford to do. If you don’t embrace contentment at the soul level, you will never reach your financial goals and will always be comparing yourself to others doomed to a life of “stuffitis” envy. I know because I suffer from the same disease of “stuffitis”—but I am recovering and so can you. The human spirit was not created to attain peace, contentment, or fulfillment by gathering more stuff.
-Ms. Dollar Wise
Ask Ms. Dollar Wise is a column for Rio Hondo Students to ask questions they have about handling day-to-day finances. If you have a question you’d like answered in this column email [email protected]