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That philosophy is hard for some to adopt. For them, getting a raise doesn’t mean paying off debt or saving it. It means staying on the “make more, spend more” hamster wheel, racking up even more debt.
In their best-selling book, Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, co-authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez explore the role of money in our lives and its power over us. Among their observations, the authors note that Americans “project onto money the capacity to fulfill our fantasies, allay our fears, soothe our pain, and send us soaring to the heights…. We buy everything from hope to happiness.”
Funny thing—spending as a means to achieve greater fulfillment doesn’t seem to work. Numerous surveys conclude that consumers on the higher end of the middle-class earning and spending scale are not any happier than those on the lower end.
So why do we keep spending beyond our means? Habit may be partly to blame. A daily routine that includes premium coffee, lunch, and snack purchases could have you spending at least $15 a day without a second thought. To avoid mindless spending, Robin and Dominguez encourage consumers to ask of each expenditure whether it brought “fulfillment, satisfaction, and value in proportion to life energy spent”— the hours of work it takes you to pay for a purchase. When you realize that dinner at an expensive restaurant will cost nine hours of your energy, you start to analyze your spending choices more critically.
Change your mindset that views spending as a reward and saving as deprivation. Instead, realize that overspending can deprive you of the freedom to choose how to live and work, and see living beneath your means as the path to peace of mind and financial independence.
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