One of the best questions Saturday was, “What is healthy budgeting?”
After a pensive pause I replied, “One that allows you to meet all of your responsibilities, reflects your values, and that doesn’t result in remorse, regret, or the hiding of purchases.”
A healthy budget is one that is proactive and responsive rather than reactive and impulsive.
Side note, June’s meeting will feature Nicole Newcomb, MHCP (Mental Health Counselor), CASAC (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor) with Explore What’s Next to talk about mindfulness and how it applies to budgeting.
We had a lengthy discussion about Facebook. While it is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, to reconnect with friends from the past, and to counteract loneliness, it fosters narcissism and certainly can be an unhealthy addiction and time-suck.
In addition, it was determined that Facebook was by-and-large the stimulant for many comparisons and prompted us to think about how we spend money, not only on clothes and cars but on travel. The group agreed that all choices have their trade-offs. One participant, within the last couple of years, decided to follow her heart and pursue her passion. This comes at a financial price, but the personal rewards are great. While some of her friends and former colleagues are enjoying lavish vacations, she’s lining up her income calendar for the next several months.
The people in our lives influence our purchases as do all forms of media (tv -with all of the commercials – movies, magazines, online or newspaper articles). I am influenced by the tv show “Little House on the Prairie,” and have recently succumbed to social pressure in buying our tomboy daughter a dress and shoes for Easter. She will wear both for roughly 9 hours after which they will find their way into a hand-me-down bag for our friends’ daughter.
It is the human condition to compare oneself with others, but “Comparison is the thief of joy.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt (at least according to Google) (I can see my library friends cringing).
Someone mentioned that, while people may not engage in conversations about politics or religion, everyone must deal with money, and most people must also deal with the emotional aspects of money.
I’d like to point out that we typically only see the positive outcome of other’s purchases and decisions, we may not see the negative consequences or, as pointed out earlier, trade-offs.
People buy things to fit in, to impress, to be (or at least to appear) generous, to escape, for the thrill of the hunt and/or the bargain, to ease loneliness and for many other reasons.
Speaking of the bargain, a few participants shared that their bargain hunting did not stop when their financial situation improved, and I see this with clients who have millions (“That’s probably why they have them,” you say) who cannot bear to splurge (or sometimes to give). The bargain can be a wonderful experience, but it can quickly lead to fear-based decisions as in “I must find this cheaper because I may not have enough [money] otherwise,” or can result in one making purchases that are unneeded simply because they’re “a good deal.”
Buy what you need and what you love.
We talked about coupons and warehouse stores (that the wise Mari McNeil called “temples of buying”) and how they influence our buying decisions. I was recently explaining to our daughter that coupons and advertised sales are good examples of aspects of behavioral finance because they are mechanisms that hope to affect our behavior and specifically our financial behavior (the company offering the coupon hopes we’ll run to the store today and but the three bottles of conditioner to save $1 instead of only buying the one bottle that we need)(yes, I know – and the company knows – we’ll eventually use the other two bottles).
It is the salesperson’s job as well to affect your financial behavior. The home shopping channels feature sales “hosts” that not only point out the features and benefits of a product but become a friend, a confidante, a supporter of your buying decision. People who are home bound and lonely can easily fall victim to this type of influence.
Our group also discussed the law of attraction/The Secret and also one’s right to pray for material things. We agreed that the more effective prayer (or visualization) is one requesting the resources needed (patience, persistence, hard-work) to achieve the desired goal rather than the outcome itself. I often wonder, what would life be if not to want? I suppose life would be a lot like a Buddhist monastery.
So who influences your purchasing decisions?
What remains from your choices?
When you look around at your purchases, what emotions do you experience?