Are You Making Sense Out of Dollars?

My private practice office is a safe space for all types of conversations with patients. I hear the good, bad, ugly and sometimes awkward. The conversation that brings up the “cost” of living can be one of those awkward times.

It’s interesting to hear about somebody’s new boat, car, beach house, shiny watch, the shirt they just bought at Nordy’s or extravagant dinner enjoyed the weekend before, yet in the next breath tune-in to, “but organic food is so expensive” or “I can’t afford my supplements.” Really? Really?

I guess this is the week to talk perceptions and beliefs-probably a good time of year to do so as we all attempt to mold our behaviors for the “good” of our well-being and health in the new year ahead. How we perceive the flow of money in our lives is directly related to what we believe to have “worth” to us. Last week at the coffee shop I heard a woman talking to her friend about buying all the guys in her office several rounds of drinks at the bar. She followed up by asking her coffee partner if she’d like to see a movie that afternoon. When the friend said she couldn’t really afford it after the holidays, the same friend who’d treated all the guys to three rounds of drinks didn’t even offer to take the friend to the movies and only replied that maybe they could go another time when she could. Now, I might be reading between the lines on that one and drawing my own conclusions, but imagine how that made the friend feel after hearing the story about her generosity toward a group of people she barely knew? While I’m sure she didn’t expect her friend to pay for her at the movies, it likely made her wonder about how her friend prioritizes money matters.

How Money Matters

1. Make a list of everything you M U S T buy this week. Now go back to review that list. Did you omit anything? On the edge of your paper, list your ommissions.

2. On the reverse side of this list, write down everything you purchased in the past week. Drink at the convenient market, gum, coffee, a new shirt… maybe nothing at all. Whatever it was list it. At the bottom of this page make a numbered list that reads like this:

* I need the gum I bought because…….
* I need the shirt I bought because…..
* I need the x, y and z because………
* I need to go out for lunch because….

Now put down a guestimate of what all of these things cost. Let’s say it was $100.

3. For the last written part of this exercise, go back to your omitted list. Ask yourself why you omitted those items. Could you not afford them? Could you go another few days until you got paid again? Or, is it that you have a belief attached to that product or service related to your personal needs? Make notes about what you explore to come back to later.

Looking At Dollars And S E N S E

If a new shirt costs $45 dollars, but you omitted a $3 bag of organic lettuce, ask yourself why you value a new shirt more than a bag of lettuce. Is it that you believe your new shirt can make you feel better than a salad that offers your body nutrition? I’m not suggesting that you should or shouldn’t, only asking you to consider your choices related to your beliefs surrounding the shirt and the salad.

If you totaled $50 in going out to lunch this week, omitted a $3 bag of salad, a $6 package of organic chicken and your $12 bottle of supplements, why? What about going out for lunch three times was more important than providing yourself with enough healthy, organic food that would likely make you five salads, a dinner and an extra lunch? Those items still cost less than your spending on going out to lunch, but for some reason, you believe they aren’t as important as purchasing something that will yield more “product” for less money and likely provide more health benefit to you.

Beliefs And Spending

Bottom line is it is never too late to look at how our goals and beliefs match up to how we spend money. If you’re playing victim, crying, “I can’t afford it, I can’t afford it,” but going out on the town, buying new cars and then not purchasing the services and goods you actually need to sustain everyday living, it’s time to take a look back. The “real cost” of goods is reflected in the ways we invest into our futures and that includes our health almost more than anything. If you need help learning how to budget, ask for it. If you bought a new car last week and now aren’t sure how you’re going to afford your groceries, health care visit or supplements, it might be time to take a closer look at how you prioritize your spending.

If you can afford it all, great! That’s awesome! But if you are frivolously spending on items that hold little future value, consider the items that could yield more than their price tag the next time you pull out your wallet. Remember, how you think and believe is directly related to how you feel.

Learn more about money myths and the real cost of health food from my visit to Juli Novotny’s blog, Pure Mamas.

Have tips of your own? Share them with readers here in the comments section.

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