Do you ever feel like no matter how much money you have, it just isn’t enough? You try to tell yourself it is enough. After all, you should be thankful for what you have. But you’re struggling to pay your bills or you have dreams and aspirations which seem unattainable at your current income.
I get this.
For most of my life I have wished I had more money.
I always had what I needed—more than some and less than others. It wasn’t that I needed to shop at the most expensive stores or to drive a nicer car. What really got to me was that there were places I wanted to go, ideas I wanted to actualize, and even people I wanted to help that I couldn’t because, as I saw it, I couldn’t afford it.
Just the thought of money would give me a tremendous amount of anxiety.
That is, until recently.
To be honest, my financial situation hasn’t changed that dramatically. I do make more money now than I ever have before. At the same time, I’m still in a bit of debt from graduate school and I recently went through a divorce, and have bills and obligations, like anyone.
There are still some things I desire for which money seems like an obstacle.
But I picked up this book by Kate Northrup.
It’s called Money, A Love Story and she talks about the ways we limit the flow of money into our life.
- By denying or ignoring our current financial position
- By not being willing to admit what we really desire for our financial lives
- With our unconscious thoughts, ideas and fears around money.
She gives all kinds of suggestions to re-route unhelpful ideas and habits around money, and one that stuck out to me was to change the way you talk about it.
Specifically, she recommended that when there is something you wish you could do or have that feels out of your financial reach in the moment, instead of saying, “I can’t afford that,” you learn to say, “that’s not a priority for me right now. Currently my financial priority is… [fill in the blank].”
I’ve taken her advice and been surprised.
Partly, I’ve been surprised by how often I was saying or thinking, “I can’t afford that.” It was multiple times a day, when I was honest with myself.
I’ve also been surprised by how changing the way I talk about money has significantly reduced the anxiety I feel around it. It has given me the freedom to spend money on the things that matter most to me and in a really weird way it feels like it has expanded the money I do have to make it more valuable.
That might sound crazy, but it’s true.
Learning to reframe the way I think about money—to stop thinking about it as a scarce resource, only available to certain people, and to begin thinking about it as a renewable resource that follows certain laws of nature has changed the way I experience money in my life.
It’s made me feel like I have more of it.
Recently I have been thinking about how I really want to go on a trip to Italy. It’s obviously not a necessity, but it’s been a dream of mine for a long time, so it’s on my list of goals for the next 12 months. I checked airline tickets and they’re around $1200.
To me, that’s pretty significant.
But rather than saying, “It’s too expensive!” or “I can’t afford that!” I’m saying, “It’s not my number one priority right now. I’ll start saving and I will be able to go eventually.”
As Northrup says:
If you really wanted it you would figure out a way to get it. If it were that VALUABLE to you, you would make it happen. So it’s not that you can’t afford it. It’s just that you don’t value it enough to do what it would take to get it. —Kate Northrup
Talking about it this way takes the responsibility off of my outside circumstances and puts it onto me for my financial choices.
It allows me to be the one who controls my money, rather than the other way around.
This might seem like a small deal, but I don’t think it is.
The more I pay attention to the people I know who talk about money this way—as a renewable resource that is not fixed in space and time, but as a resource we can train and use to our advantage—the more I believe this is a key to being content with your financial circumstances, no matter what they are.
I find this simple shift to be helpful whether I’m talking about a trip to Italy or whether I’m talking about my next light bill or mortgage payment.
As Marie Forleo says, “Not enough is a spiritual state, not a financial one.”
I’m curious. What phrases do you need to stop using when it comes to money? What are your strategies for being content with what you have, rather than constantly hoping for more?
If you’re interested in more resources regarding money or any other topic I write about here, check out my Additional Resources page.
37 thoughts on “One Phrase to Stop Using If You Want More Money”
We have often observed that people ‘afford’ what they want to afford and then complain that they haven’t enough for the rest. Local culture favors big NEW pickup trucks every few years while not having enough for the rent or repainting the house. My parents were ‘careful with their money’ most of their lives but could shell out a big chunk…say cash for a new car every 10 years…if they felt the need.
“…Train and use to our advantage” is a great attitude toward money. Buy the better grade if it is a wise choice…not if it is a pride or status thing!
Paul’s line about, “My God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory…” is in the context of generosity to others–not in the context of getting and keeping more.
I find my biggest struggle with money is comparing myself to others – I’m not proud of this, and it’s not easy to say, but I feel a lot of envy when I see other people going on trips multiple times a year to their second homes in other countries and renovating their homes yearly and buying really expensive gifts for people when mine are seemingly nothing next to theirs. Almost every person at the company I work for is let’s say “very wealthy” and it makes it even more difficult when they question me about why I don’t go out more or go away more or spend X amount of money on gifts for my family and friends. So not only do I already compare myself, but the people who do in fact have A LOT more money than me judge me for the way I spend/don’t spend my money. I am really not proud to admit this, but it is the truth for now unfortunately, and not using phrases like “I can’t afford that, it’s too expensive” sounds like a good start 🙂
Krista, I hope you don’t mind my two cents, but I totally understand how you feel. I was in a similar situation at my old job. What worked for me was making friends outside of work and sticking with people that had the same financial status as me. That way I never felt left out or the need to compare.
Your writings are so insightful. They mean so much to me. I’m glad I’m able to read what you write.
I’ve probably responded to your posts with this saying more than just today, “God works in mysterious ways and speaks through unexpected individuals.” Thank you once again, as clearly you are writing my life on a day to day basis.
Grace and Peace
Good words, as always. I’ve also found it helpful to simply try to be grateful for what we do have. Though we are not “rich” and cannot afford everything we want, we have a lot of great things: a great community, health, and we make fantastic meals. Our lives are quite rich in some ways, and I want to notice and celebrate those! Being grateful for what we have has made life much more enjoyable than lamenting what we don’t.
My husband and I recently decided we were going to push ourselves to a very uncomfortable place by living on one income and paying off our mortgage in 3 years. The economy is so bad and so many of our friends are out of work that we want to strive, while we still have jobs, to remove our biggest debt. And you know what? The fact that we are buying WAY less of everything has been liberating. We not only have found out how much less we can actually live on, but what we do buy is more valuable because it is either necessary or truly of great significance. We are being more creative in meeting our needs and being more mindful of everything we do. My point is that while we could afford to do more, the fact that we are choosing other priorities right now, as you mentioned, makes this a decision rather than a hardship, and that does make a big difference in the experience.
My husband and I have had the most painful 2 years.
First I was made redundant after being headhunted for a great position. Luckily we had just sold our home so I didn’t have that hanging over my head. Then my husband lost his job.
We decided we had had enough and decided to move overseas for a more stable life. We gave up everything, only to struggle for 6 months until I found a job. I felt like finally things were turning around, only my hubby has not been so lucky – he has been unable to find a permanent position 1 year on in our new country. Last month his father died and we couldn’t afford to buy a plane ticket for my husband to go to the funeral.
Then last week I was told my company is restructuring and to prepare for another redundancy. So, here we sit – given up our whole lives to try find something better and it’s happening all over again. Honestly, I despair.
Sorry for the doom and gloom, but heck, I never knew what rock bottom really was.
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