Sometimes I get seriously wrapped up in my everyday expenses. How can I spend less? How can I optimize my happiness while edging out my consumerism? These are pressing questions for me each and everyday. Then every once in a while all my big expenses occur in one month and I tend to want to freak out. What do I do? I surrender.
When I took control of my financial life I went through a surrender of sorts. We think of surrender as a giving up and giving in, but in this sense it was relinquishing my old ideas about money and taking on an entirely new relationship with money.
I write often about the relation of money to control. Having money equals security and power, whereas not having money equals instability and uncertainty. Frugal people know how empowering it is to have lots of money saved and not feel lost in a black hole of debt. Spending money can either make you feel empowered or it can make you feel out of control, it all depends on your perception.
I used to be very much concerned with what I thought I needed. Separating “I need this” from “I want this” has to be one of the most empowering ways I changed my mind about money. When I embraced this surrender a lot of things I thought I needed dropped away and I was free to spend my money on things that truly improved my well being instead of things I thought would make me happy.
I still spend money on plenty of things these days— the difference is I don’t feel like money is being stolen from me through monthly subscriptions or pointless payouts like loan interest. My money can go towards my interests, travel experiences, and necessities. The trouble is, necessities can seem like luxuries when they cost a lot. As a frugality nerd I’m always asking myself “do I really need this?” For the most part these days the answer is yes. I’ve done a wonderful job of cleaning up my spending habits and I’m mostly left with what’s necessary.
So just as I originally surrendered to how I thought about money, today I surrender to things that have to be paid. My big expenses seem to all happen at once. This month I paid $700 for six months of car insurance, $700 for new tires, $300 to find out the dog has liver cancer, and $250 for six months of cell service. This spending is effectively 380% of my usual monthly spending. Yikes!
I want to mention that expenses usually aren’t terribly regular or even predictable. This is exactly why we figure out a monthly budget by averaging out yearly spending over months. My car insurance costs $1400 a year so my monthly budget allowance towards car insurance is $116. This is a great way for me to see what I actually spend vs. what I think I spend per month. I simply don’t think about those expenses that come up once a year. My spreadsheet keeps me in check.
For a cheapskate like me that 380% can hurt. Anytime I see money going out a little voice inside my head says “excess!” “spending!” “wastefulness!” These sorts of thoughts are completely useless. When you have necessary expenses you just have to pay them and dwelling on necessary expenses just fills up my brain with fear. When I’m a tightwad with money I manifest the same power struggle I had with money back when debt ruled my life. So what do I do? I surrender. These days I always have the money to pay for what I need and I’m privileged to pay the bills.
I want to make the distinction that there’s a big difference between surrender and denial. Denial is not wanting to look at the credit card balance. Denial is not paying attention to your spending because really, you’ll have time to save later. A financial surrender is being aware of your financial truth and not giving into fear and anxiety. Any decisions or attitudes that come from a place of fear are not going to turn out well. Instead, you face your finances in spite of fear.
A financial surrender is the best way I know to combat the classic money struggle. Money saving always comes back to controlling what gets spent. Trying to control anything, including money, is a fruitless pursuit. If you do succeed you will most likely come out at the other end pretty wrecked and anxious. Of course to be financially fit you have to reform your money spending and learn how to save, however you don’t have to do it worried, concerned, or anxious. I come at my finances from a calm place. I breathe, relinquish my fears about controlling every cent, and I make good choices. It’s through many financial surrenders that I’ve saved, and will continue to save, many thousands. I hope all my readers follow my path.